Troy Lee Designs/GoPro/Red Bull KTM rider Shane McElrath took the first win in his professional career last weekend at the 2017 AMA Supercross season opener in Anaheim. A veteran of the TLD squad, McElrath has had his sights set on the top step of the podium since turning pro in 2013. We caught up with the current 250SX West points leader to get his thoughts on his first trip to the top of the podium.
Red Bull: Have you made any major changes in your program leading up to your first-ever Supercross win this past weekend at Anaheim 1?
Shane McElrath: The only big change I made was that I came in healthy and fit. My crash at Southwick was a setback for outdoors, but it gave me more time to heal up and get ready for Supercross and I used every bit of it.
Take us through last Saturday night and all of the action that led to your main event victory.
It was a solid day all around for me. I practiced pretty good compared to normal and that's what we [the team] have been working on. I just tried to apply myself every time I was on the track. The main event was tough because it was tough to think about the race itself through all the nerves and excitement, but I was happy with how I was able to handle it for the most part!
The main event was tough because it was tough to think about the race itself through all the nerves and excitement, but I was happy with how I was able to handle it for the most part!Shane McElrath
What were your honest expectations coming into Anaheim 1?
Coming into the race I just told myself I need to be on the podium to be in the title hunt. We knew that the timed format [note: rule changes for 2017 meant the length of each race would be dictated by time rather than the traditional number of laps] was going to be in the back of a lot of people's heads but we've been preparing for whatever so it didn't bother us. Freckle [Mitchell Oldenburg] and myself just tried to come in, make a statement and set the tone for the whole season.
How important is building momentum early in the season?
Building momentum early is one of the most important things, especially in the 250 class! We only have six races before the break. So it's important to be ready to go at the first one because there is not much time to make up ground.
How did you like the new timed racing format as opposed to the traditional lap-by-lap approach?
I think the timed racing really sets the standard for Supercross now. It's no longer sliding through the race onto the podium because some races are only 11 minutes. Yeah, Supercross is tough in itself, but now with the longer motos it's going to show who really trains especially as the season unfolds.
What is one specific area you would like to improve on coming into round two in San Diego?
The only thing I was fighting last weekend was my excitement and nerves of it being the first race. It didn't bother me to lead. It was just because it was the first race!
In one phrase describe what it's going to take to win the 2017 West Coast Supercross championship.
As [TLD team trainer] Tyla would say, "Bite the Bullet!"