Honda Red Bull Racing’s Andrew Short has had a tough go of it in the AMA Pro Motocross Championship series so far this year, even missing an entire moto at the Texas round due to technical difficulties with his motorcycle.
At the High Point National in Pennsylvania last weekend, however, it appeared as though Shorty found his groove again, as he battled tooth-and-nail in the lead pack all day long. While leading the majority of the second moto on a brutally rough track, Andrew exuded a new level of confidence en route to a solid 3-2 performance—good for second overall on the day.
We caught up with Andrew to find out what went in to straightening out his misfortunes in the series so quickly.
It’s been a little while since you’ve run up front like you did this past weekend. How did it feel to spend all that time out there with clean track ahead of you?
It felt really good. Just to get the feeling of momentum back on my side is a huge deal for me at this point. The season started off really rough for me, so I’m working very hard to turn it around. To have a race go in the right direction is a breath of fresh air, and very confidence-inspiring. I had a successful year last year, so to experience so much bad luck right out of the gate was pretty depressing. I’ve tried hard to turn things around quickly, though, and I hope the bad luck is behind me now.
It must have felt great to pull that holeshot, knowing that you finally had a legitimate shot at a win...
For sure. I got a couple holeshots last year, but it’s definitely been a while. I’ve always gotten pretty good starts, which is obviously key if you want to put yourself in a position to win, but that was the first time in a long time that I’ve led like that. It’s definitely good for the confidence.
You set the fastest lap time in the race, and most people thought you were going to win the moto when you began pulling away early on. Can you pinpoint what led to you eventually being caught?
Yeah, I was laying down some fast laps in the beginning of the race. I think lap four was my fastest. I felt comfortable, and everything was clicking. While out front, I was just trying to keep a positive mindset and tried to avoid overdoing it, which is typically when you can tense up and make mistakes.
My strategy worked really well for the first 10 laps or so, but then I made a couple of big mistakes and it just turned from there. I tried to regroup and push again, but I ended up making a few more mistakes. From there it just started compounding. I was close, though, and definitely plan to execute a little differently next time.
For those who don’t know the feeling, can you explain what it’s like, mentally, to be out front like that?
When you’re in the middle of a battle, it’s easier to remain engaged mentally. When you’re all by yourself out in no man’s land, though, whether you’re in the middle of the pack or leading, it’s very easy to lose focus.
When you lose sight of catching the guy ahead of you or pulling away from the guy who’s nipping at your heels, it’s very easy to start making mistakes. And when a mistake is made, it’s tough to clear your mind and not focus on the consequences of that mistake.
The more time you spend out front, though, the more you become comfortable with being there. Having the confidence to win is everything in this sport, and last weekend there was one guy on the track who was just a little better than I was.
Well, you set the fastest lap time during that second moto, so he wasn’t necessarily “better” than you, right?
Yeah, but the race isn’t just one lap. There are a lot of riders who can be a one-lap wonder at any given track, but it’s another thing to put it together for 35 minutes. That’s what it takes in motocross, and that’s part of what makes this sport so great.
You had some bad luck in Texas that was out of your control, and at Hangtown you had a few random misfortunes, as well. Are you feeling now like your High Point performance has set your series straight?
Definitely. After Freestone, I was pretty bummed because I had put a lot of work into the preparation side of things. I was really focused on trying to start the season off right. It seems like every year I have some hiccups and some bad luck that sets me back, but as the season goes on, I tend to get stronger. I really wanted to correct that this year, but unfortunately it didn’t happen like I’d hoped.
That’s racing, though. I realize that everybody is going to have those moto ups and downs, so my goal right now is to just stay focused and win races. From there, the points will come, and we’ll see where I end up at the end of the series. If I can stay up front from here on out, I like my chances of being a threat at the end.