In a bat-out-of-hell start to the 2012 AMA 250cc National Motocross Championship, which started, for all intents and purposes, with the drop of the gate at opening Hangtown National, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki's Blake Baggett has been the sensation of the young season. In fact, starting on the last lap of the first moto of the season at Hangtown, the Californian has been on a charge one with the power, force and closing rate of a 15,000-ton coal train. Now three rounds into the summer Trans-American tour, Baggett has won half of the motos and, in doing so, extended his points lead in the title chase to 16. While there are still eight rounds yet to be run - including Saturday's High Point National in the rolling Appalachian foothills in the very far Southwest corner of Pennsylvania (and a short drive from the Racer X Global Headquarters skyscraper in nearby Morgantown, West Virginia) - it cannot be denied that if Baggett is not out front in a race, those who are, will be looking in their rearview mirrors for him. (Yes, we know motocross bikes don't have mirrors).
Eric Johnson: Blake, despite some the off-song starts you've suffered through three rounds into this deal, it appears that you can slice and dice you way through the pack in all these races better than just about anybody out there. What do you attribute that to?
Blake Baggett: I really don't have that answer. I guess I'm good at passing. I don't really know. I don't think there's a trick to it or something special about it. I guess I'm just pretty good at it.
Colorado was a deep, multi-lined, heavily rutted track. Did you find a number of lines while fighting your way to the front on the Thunder Valley circuit much like you did at Hangtown?
Yeah, exactly. Same stuff. You know where you can go, and you know other places where you have to tuck back. So, I guess it's about just figuring out where you can go and where you have to tuck back and putting it all together. Like when [Eli] Tomac was behind me this last time, I knew he was there. So, you couldn't tuck back much but you had to figure out when you were going to go and where you were going to go.
You know, you had the Overall wrapped up until the last lap and Ken Roczen fell while trying to hold off Justin Barcia...
Yeah, I know. What a joke!
You have now won half of the motos in the 2012 National season. How do you feel compared to last year?
I feel a little bit faster this year and I just feel like I got a little bit smarter on the other side, too. First moto, I was dead-last - literally dead-last. I hit neutral; we started in first gear and I hit neutral. So I made it five feet out of the gate and was a sitting duck.
You don't start in first gear down on sea level, right?
No, this is the only track we do. It makes it hard though because you've got get past that neutral. I just messed up and put it in neutral on accident, jumped out of the gate and went to shift and accidentally dropped it in neutral and started in the back and worked my way to the front. I knew that I had some good lines and speed, but the second moto was pretty gnarly.
What were you thinking about when that whole Wizard of Oz wind/rain storm deal slowly came motoring up on the Thunder Valley venue?
Oh, I didn't care...
Well, you're a California boy and most people don't associate California boys with being able to ride in the mud...
Yeah. I like the mud; it's fine. I'll ride in either one, dusty or muddy. Doesn't matter to me.
So, where do you go from here? Obviously we'll head into High Point now. What do you think about that place?
High Point, rain or shine, it doesn't really matter. You never know with going to that place. But I like that place. We'll just keep going and try to add points every weekend to our lead.