Q: How does it feel to be the 2017 AMA 450 Motocross Champion?
ET: It’s pretty unbelievable. It’s going to take some time to sink in, but it has been a long time coming. The team and I have been working hard to win a title and it really feels good to achieve one of our goals. I just came in ready and fired up to get it done for the entire Monster Energy Kawasaki team.
Q: How did this win compare to your 2013 250 Motocross Championship? What are the similarities and differences in your strategy?
ET: Winning the championship in the premier class is always something special. We had to overcome some situations we didn’t want to be in and we just had to grind through it, which made it that much sweeter. My 250MX Championship meant a lot to me, it was my first professional National Championship, but in the 450MX class you have to work even harder. I have a great team supporting me and my strategy was to just stick to working on myself and trying to be better each week.
Q: Was there a specific track you were focused on improving at this season?
ET: There wasn’t really a specific track you focus on. It is one of the good things about the series and having to race in a lot of different environments. It’s really about improving my riding on a weekly basis and making sure to minimize the errors on whatever track we’re at.
Q: Did you have to make any major adjustments during this season like you did during supercross?
ET: Leading up to the Southwick race, we were kind of the dominant guys out there. Some of the other competition like Marvin (Musquin) and Blake (Baggett) really stepped it up in the second half of the season and they pushed me to work harder and to get out front from the start.
Q: Did the outcome of the supercross season light a fire in you for this outdoor season or did the great performance channel your focus?
ET: Well, we always set out to win. We had a great Monster Energy Supercross season and came extremely close to a championship. The championship is always the goal and I’m happy that we were able to bring one home this summer and we plan to keep the momentum going into 2018.
Q: Speaking of the 2018 season, how do you feel now that you will be running the No. 1 plate for the first time in your 450 career?
ET: It feels great. It’s a major boost in confidence, but I also know we will still have to work hard each week. Hopefully it’s true what they say, the first one is always the hardest.