After two rough opening seasons to Smith’s SX career, things turned around in 2017. He chose to leave Geico Honda to go to TLD/Red Bull KTM and it seems to have sparked something in him as he has been a totally new rider this year. He has had a very consistent year which includes 2 race wins and heading into the last round at Vegas, he will be carrying the red plate.
We spoke to him after the race in East Rutherford where he got 3rd place. Here is what he had to say about the race and the season as a whole:
Moto Now: Okay, so 4th place (3rd place after the Savatgy penalty). I’m sure it’s not what you were hoping for, but take us through the ride and how you feel about your night.
Jordon Smith: Yeah, like you said, it was not what I was hoping for. I got a really good start and got bumped out a little bit there in the first turn, but I just kind of put my head down and I knew it was going to be a long gnarly race. I picked off as many guys as I could and just tried to stay off the ground. I mean it wasn’t the night that I was really wanting, but it is what it is and we will go into Vegas and do what we can.
Going into Vegas, you are 8 points down (He now sits in 1st place with a 1 point lead over Osborne and Savatgy) and still very much in this. Are you going to go in there and try and win and just see what happens?
Yeah absolutely. That’s all I can do. Just get the best start that I can and ride my race and wherever I end up I end up and wherever Joey [Savatgy] and Zach [Osborne] finish they do. I just have to get a good start and keep doing what I’ve been doing the last few weeks and we’ll see where it puts me.
I gotta ask. Savatgy crashed and then cut the track and I noticed that when he got back going you were right behind him. Did you see it at all?
No I didn’t see that he was down. I saw him right after that when I was coming through the whoops and I didn’t know what happened. I thought maybe he was getting tired or something. So I didn’t really know until I came off the track and they told me. I haven’t watch it yet so I’ll go back and watch it and see what I think about it and we’ll see what happens.
What do you feel is the fair penalty? The AMA sometimes doesn’t have the most detailed clear rules so what do you think is fair?
I think what is fair is that they keep it consistent. My teammate got docked earlier this year because he had a problem and went off the track and came back on at a point that he wasn’t supposed to so as long as they keep it fair all the way around.
I feel like this year we almost have seen a new you. In years past we have seen flashes of speed, but the year we have seen you more consistent and you seem to be limiting those small mistakes. What is the biggest difference? I know you had the team change, is that the big difference?
Yeah, I’ve kept everything the same as far my training and riding during the week. I did off-season stuff the same as I have the last couple. Really, the new team has been awesome and I’m really gelling with them and the bike and everyone is getting along good. I [also] have been healthy all off-season and during the season so that helps out a lot. You know, just gaining experience as that helps too.
They changed the rules to now it being 4 years instead of 3 years if you win the tile you had to move up. What do you feel about this change? I mean you were in the situation where if you would have won the title, you would have had to move up to the 450 class. Do you feel like that would have been too soon to push a rider out?
For sure, In my situation, I feel like that would have been too soon. I’ve had two very rough years in the 250 class and to put me into the 450 [class] in that situation would be too soon, but if it happened then it happened and I would have put my head down and never give up on anything and do the best that I could. There is going to be pros and cons to any rule change like that, It’s going to benefit some people and hurt others. It’s not a huge change, but it definitely helps out myself.
Zach was flying tonight and with just one final race to go, what do you got to do to match his speed and cut the difference there?
Yeah, he was riding really good. He was right in front of me on the first lap and I tried to latch on, but he was riding unbelievable and it’s tough to ride with someone like that. I mean you push and you just can’t quite latch on and it’s tough. You have to kind of forget about it and go back to riding your race. All I can do is get good start and see what happens. Zach is a good guy and we’ll keep it clean out there, but race hard.
You have had some pretty good battles with Savatgy this year. I’ve noticed in the heat race that you took him a little high in that corner. Is that just how you are going to ride or is that something specific with Savatgy?
In the situation that we are in with the 250 guys, the class is really stacked and everyone is going really fast so whenever you make a pass you have to make it stick because they are going to come right back at you and I know he would have done the same thing in my position. We race hard and I don’t think my pass was dirty. We didn’t make contact and I just had to be aggressive and make it stick. Some people probably look at it differently then others, but from my point of view I think It was just an aggressive pass and I also wanted to kind of send a little bit of a message and tell him that I meant business tonight. Unfortunately it didn’t work out in the main, but we’ll see.
Photo from KTM