TLD KTM rookie Sean Cantrell raced his first ever supercross this past weekend in Arlington. We caught up with him after the race to see how he felt about the day.
Moto Now: How does it feel to finally get that first Supercross race over?
Sean Cantrell: It feels good. I did the whole outdoor season, but this was a whole new feeling all around. It was cool. I was expecting myself to be a lot more nervous, but I was just so comfortable with how the off-season went and how I was feeling. Things went really well. Starts were good today; 2nd place starts in both the heat race and the main. Was able to ride up front in 2nd or 3rd most of the main event, but unfortunately fell in the tuff blocks in the whoop section. A lot to build on. Disappointed with myself for getting in the tuff blocks, but first supercross race riding in 3rd place with the reigning east coast champion. I’m happy with it.
Can we expect better finishes from you now that the first one’s done. Are first race jitters real?
Oh yeah. Definitely with the first one out of the way, you can expect a lot more from me. The goal tonight was to come in and lead a few laps, and get out of here safe. Get through this one and focus on the next one. Once I made it to the main it was a sigh of relief and I could focus on my ride. That we did, I’m glad we pushed today. Maybe not the best finish, but we led some laps, we were up front, top 3 for a while. Just got to keep it together.
You were within that top 10 range all day today, lap times and all. But I noticed you were just a bit off the pace compared to the top guys. Does that irritate you, or do you expect it considering it’s your first race?
Everyone is a competitor, we all want to get the fastest lap time. If we’re second we’re still bummed, want to do better. I qualified 11th today, and I was bummed. I was pretty disappointed honestly. I felt really good on the track, but lap times didn’t show. I was only 2 seconds off the leading time, and once I saw that I was like “okay, I know where I can improve”. I was losing a second in the whoops, so that was no big deal. Once it came to the main, I knew my intensity would pick up, and that I would be okay. Hopefully next weekend we can not worry about practice so much and just focus on racing.
So yeah, in the main you’re up front for a while. This is supercross, under the lights in a massive stadium, this is intense. I’m sure you dreamed of this your whole life. Does that get into your mind at all?
I remember when I was 4 years old I was watching supercross, watching Carmichael on TV. I remember my Uncle and I were watching, and he was like “are you going to do this one day?”. I was like absolutely. He asked, “What is the scariest part for you”, and I said “probably the triples” (laughs). It’s such a cool feeling, today I was able to fulfill my dream. Any 4 year old today who wants to do this one day, I just wish they can feel this experience. All the KTM junior kids who are watching us after their race, I wish they could experience this one day. It’s pretty incredible.
What’s the biggest thing you learned?
I learned quite a bit. Just focusing on myself, not worrying who’s in front of me, who’s behind me. There’s so many big names all around me, so I just have to focus on what I’m capable of doing. That’s probably what I learned the most.
You must have put in a thousands laps on the test track. What is it like coming here today and getting on this supercross track in the stadium for the first time? Is it tougher than what you imagined?
Yeah it’s definitely tough getting on the track. We only have 8 minutes of free practice to figure out all the whoops and rhythms and jumps, stuff like that. In 8 minutes we have to drop a heater. It’s definitely a tough situation we all have, but everyone has to deal with it, it’s not just me. It’s tough doing thousands of laps on the practice track, that’s why we call our buddy and try to get on their track, then treat it like a race situation. Luckily I was able to go down to Blake Baggett’s and figure out the track down there, and then jumped down to Tim Ferry’s place to treat it like a race day. So I was pretty comfortable coming into today, a lot more comfortable than I expected.
There are some more experienced riders on your team, like Shane McElrath on the west coast. Do these guys act as mentors for you?
Yeah, absolutely. Shane is really good at doing that. I’ve been on the team for a couple years now, and him, Jessy [Nelson], all those guys are really good at doing that. Shane is really good at being my mentor, and same with Alex Martin. Even Jordon [Smith] today, he was keeping me sane, and keeping me level headed and all that stuff. The team manager and my mechanic, my mechanic just killed it today, my trainer was killing it too. I’m happy with how things went today, so onto next weekend.
Cover photo from Motor Sports Newswire