Christian Craig Talks 2018 Supercross Championship
By Casey Davis | @air_d617
It was in 2016 that Geico Honda’s Christian Craig experienced his career-first Main Event win in the 250 West Coast Supercross Championship, and for 2018 he’s coming back! Hailing from Southern California, Craig is no stranger to the hard-packed and dry conditions of the area, so he’s looking forward to the familiarity that’ll come once Anaheim One rolls around. We sat down with the #32 at the 2018 Team Honda Intro, so check out our conversation about the upcoming racing season.
It was just recently announced that you’ll be racing the West Coast Supercross Championship alongside Chase Sexton. You have to be excited about that, as you encountered success during your West Coast run in 2016.
Yeah, I’m very excited about that. Obviously I raced the East Coast series this year and things didn’t quite go my way. I truly struggled more than ever and I just wasn’t in a good place mentally. To be racing West Coast is a very positive thing for me; especially since I’m already based in Southern California. For myself, there will be several hometown races so-to-speak, so I’m also looking forward to that. The lesser amount of travel will definitely benefit me. It’s probably safe to say that everyone on the team – including myself – knew that I shouldn’t race East Coast again in 2018 (laughs). That’s not to say that I didn’t learn anything during my time on that side of the US, though. It’s necessary for me to experience that sooner than later because one way or another I will be lining up at those races once I move up to the 450. I grew up out here in Southern California, so I’m going to be more accustomed to the dry, hard packed conditions. It’s going to be Chase Sexton and myself on the West Coast and I’m very excited about that, as I helped to get him onto the team a few years ago. I’ve been able to teach him a few things along the way and he’s also done the same for me, so I’d love to keep this momentum going through the series. He experienced a few injuries this year, which pushed back his projected pro debut, but that was a while ago, as he’s 100% healthy and been in the saddle for quite some time now. I think during that time he may have gotten a little too excited or a little too ahead of himself, which is easy to do when you’re a rookie because I’ve done the same thing. You can’t be too eager, you have to be patient and you have to wait for the right time. Chase has yet to show his full potential, so I think if he stays healthy he will be battling for podiums hopefully alongside myself. I’m really looking forward to this season!
You have to feel like you have a home-field advantage of sorts racing West Coast, right?
Yeah, and we just moved to a house that’s about 12 minutes from Angel’s Stadium, so that in itself is going to be extremely helpful. For about 90% of the series, I will be able to sleep in my own bed the night before each race. When you’re based on the West Coast and have to travel each weekend for the East Coast championship, you definitely begin to feel fatigued. Not to mention I was a little out of my element in those stadiums and on that dirt. I know exactly what to expect come Anaheim One, and I’m excited about that familiarity because it all plays in my favor. As long as I can get those starts, there shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Looking around at your competitors, you’re considered to be one of the veterans of the 250 class, but only because you’re a little older than some of the other guys. Do you think having that extra little bit of time and experience benefits you?
Absolutely! The 2017 East Coast champ is 27 or 28, and I’m only 26, so thankfully I don’t feel too old yet. The time I had away from racing a few years ago did hurt me in a way, however, I believe it helped me to grow up and mature a little bit. I think these days it’s not as rare to see an older guy in the 250 class, whereas just a few years ago that was a different story. I would love to be on a 450 racing in the premier class, but with the way my career has gone that point will just have to come at a later time, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I firmly believe this is the best path for me and I would really love to win a championship or battle for one before I get on to a 450 full-time. I want to be fully prepared when I make that switch, but for the time being I’m very excited to be on a 250, right now.
To go along with the new year, you will be piloting the all-new 2018 Honda CRF250R. Do you feel that you’ve had a sufficient amount of time to get fully acquainted with the new ride?
Yeah! Initially, though, we were having some difficulties in the engine department, but felt right at home when it came to the chassis. I think I can speak for everyone on the team when I say this, but this chassis is a night and day difference from the 2017. Now that we’ve had a couple of months on the bike, you can see the consistency rolling each week as far as dialing it in, which is exciting. We’re still not quite exactly where we would like to be, bit it’s only a matter of time because we’ve recently come up with some good settings for the motor. We’ve got the engine pretty dialed in now and it’s fit to go racing, but I know there’s room for growth. I feel like this bike has in a sense revamped the team, so hopefully can get back to dominating the 250 class again.