Colt Nichols has been on fire lately! After a devastating femur injury only a few months back, he returned to the podium in Atlanta where he was our Most Impressive 250 Rider. This past weekend in Toronto, he was again riding incredibly well, and was looking on pace for another podium. A small crash prevented that from happening, but all in all, we keep seeing steady improvements from him. Soon enough, he will be on the top step of the podium!
We caught up with Colt one-on-one after the race to discuss the race, podium and championship aspirations, and his femur injury. Here is what he had to say:
Moto Now: First guy to pull out the quad… congrats! I think you were one of the only ones jumping it somewhat consistently in the main too.
Colt Nichols: Yeah that was pretty tough. On track walk we got to talking about it, and I said ‘yeah I think I can jump that’! Then during practice I think I actually was the first one to jump it. It was big, kinda scary, but I live for that stuff and it’s fun. Then during the main event, it got so choppy and beat up, I think I only did it a handful of times, but waited until the last lap to do it as well. But overall, that was definitely the toughest section we’ve had all year as far as hitting it consistently and making sure you hit your lines. It was a fun section, and I’m glad that I got to do it a few times at least.
Yeah you did hit it on the very last lap?! Why take the risk with only one lap left?
Well, at that point I was going for broke. I saw that Christian [Craig] was right in front of me, and I did not want to be off the podium! So, I was doing everything I could to try to catch Christian at that point. Once I lined up for it, I saw that I was going to be okay to do it, and I thought I could maybe gain enough ground to get on his rear wheel if he made a mistake or something. But yeah, going for broke at that point to try to get past him.
You were really close to Adam Cianciarulo for a while, right on his back. Was there strategy to try and follow him to look for a place to pass?
Yeah I was kinda just waiting, buying my time. I thought that maybe he would make a mistake if I kept pressuring him because I was on him for about 4 or 5 laps in a row. The lap before I tried to run it in on him in the same section actaully where I crashed. The next lap I thought that I could set it up on him, and I tried to, but I actually ended up hitting a line that no one had hit all day, and I just slid right over it, and I ended up jumping into the tuff blocks and crashing. I was trying to buy my time, maybe got a little impatient, but I just wanted to get around him so badly (laughs). I saw the podium was right there, but just made a few little mistakes. I probably should have taken it a little more patient and waited maybe a lap or two to have him make a mistake, instead of me making a mistake myself! You live and learn, we will be back next weekend.
Next weekend is Daytona. Any different strategy and prep work with it being a faster sand based track?
The strategy is going to be the same, just try and get starts man! We started good in the heat tonight, got a hole shot, which was really nice for me; I hadn’t pulled one of those all year. But we are going to go back home, ride some outdoors actually, and try to get some suspension settings dialed. I think everyone usually goes a little bit softer for that race. So get that dialed and get some more starts under our belt. But I’m looking forward to Daytona! It’s going to be a fun race. It has a really good vibe, so I’m excited for that.
In qualifying, it seems like your lap times are off the pace. Visually, it looks like you’re riding well, but you don’t have the fastest laps! Is that frustrating?
It actually is; I get frustrated every weekend! Especially in Minneapolis, the first practice, man after that I was like ‘I don’t even know if I should race!’. I felt like an idiot. But we keep progressing. I don’t know if it’s just lack of preparation. We show up on the weekends and feel like we’re behind the eight ball already, but we get a little bit more experience, a little bit more time, we get better and better. Honestly, I’ve never been one for practice anyway, I don’t know why! Last year, the year before, anytime we do practice I can never put down that one crazy lap. I’m always just the guy that keeps chugging along. So for me practice is always kinda a struggle. But we are going to improve, going to try to get a little more intensity under our belt, and then after that we are actually gonna go for those fast times.
You’re healing up from a pretty nasty femur injury. Is that 100% healed, are their lingering effects?
So-so. It’s 100% healed bone-wise and stuff, but as far as the effects of it being broken, we aren’t quite there yet. I need to get a little bit more muscle mass in that leg; it gets a little bit more fatigued than the other one. Just little things like that. But if there was a slight chance that I could have raced, I was going to. Showing up to Minneapolis I just wanted to get through it, I had no idea what was going to happen. I could have been first or last, really no idea where I would be. I just wanted to go race, and now we keep progressing, getting better during the week. Really the past two-and-a-half weeks has been the only time we’ve really got to do proper testing and riding and getting time under our belt. Before we were just trying to get by with the leg, so we are making progress. To be where we are already is actually kinda shocking to me too, but we will keep moving.
How much time did you have on the bike before Minneapolis?
We had three weeks. It wasn’t much time, it was literally just showing up trying to race pretty much. Get some good points and see if we could be in this thing.
Arguably you’re the title favorite on this coast for Star Racing, at least that’s what I would say. Do you feel that championship pressure, especially after that crash in Minneapolis? Where do you see yourself in this championship?
Yeah, in a way. I know Dylan [Ferrandis] is obviously very, very fast. He qualifies good each weekend. With just a little bit more experience under his belt, he’s going to be very good; the kid has got a lot of talent. And Mitchell Harrison is just trying to come into his own as well. But for myself though man, title or no title, I just wanted to be there. I just wanted to race. If I could race, I knew the results would come eventually. And they are; I feel like we’re going in the right direction. I feel like I should have been a podium guy tonight, but just made my own mistakes. As far as championship goes, I want to be in it. I want to be riding with these guys, and getting on the podium each weekend. I really feel like I should never be off the podium. So for me it’s just building and trying to chase that first win. Once we get that, we will be alright.
Cover photo from Racer X Online by Jeff Kardas