We Caught Up with Casey Keast after Arlington SX #2
By Billy Rainford
#300 Casey Keast from Kelowna, BC just raced his second-ever Monster Energy AMA Supercross at Arlington #2 at AT&T Stadium in Texas. He qualified 37th again, was 18th in Heat #2, and then 15th in the LCQ. They’ve been pitting out of a U-Haul box van and trailer but now have their Carlson Racing MX truck and trailer for the remainder of their stay. We grabbed Casey to talk about how he felt at his second Supercross.
Direct Motocross: I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Arlington track. What did you think of the changes they made for #2? Did you like the track?
Casey Keast: I like the tighter tracks. I rely a lot on my corner speed. When there are tight corners, I feel I do really well on that. I needed that on Tuesday because I had terrible whoops speed.
It must have been tough to get up on top of those whoops right out of a corner.
Ya. It was the first time this year that they built them with a loader. You couldn’t even jump through them. When you tried to roll through them in free practice they were just straight edges at the bottom. You couldn’t double or do anything. It was so sketchy.
I tried skimming them and then crashed at the end. Everyone was crashing in free practice, in the C and B groups. The whoops were gnarly on Tuesday.
And what did you think about the way the corners rutted up? Did you like that?
Oh ya. I loved it. I like racing in this stadium.
I’ve never really rode out east at all, except for one time I went to GPF for 2 months when you were there, actually. I think it was 2017.
I haven’t really done much riding in the east in the States. Whenever I’m down here it’s just like the west coast.
Let’s talk about your first qualifier. You ended up 8th in that one. Were you able to get comfortable on the track?
Ya, I felt way more comfortable on Tuesday than I did Saturday, with nerves and stuff. I kind of knew what to expect so that helped a lot and I felt more calm while I was riding out there. I could focus on being fast instead of just kind of jumping everything and focussing on the track too much.
On Saturday, my corner speed was pretty slow because I was focussed on the sections, so I wasn’t hitting the corners fast. On Tuesday I was ripping the corners and not worrying about the sections as much.
That’s such a common story. At first you’re just thinking about actually making it through the rhythms and triples and then it becomes about how to do it all faster once you get comfortable.
I felt way more comfortable riding and not so stiff and anxious. That first qualifier I just laid down a fast time off the start. I basically hit the whoops fast once and that was it, just like on Saturday. My fast lap was just the one lap I banzaied the whoops.
And you were faster than everyone in the C Group, too, so that was cool.
Ya, I was stoked on that. I kind of know my place now. I’m feeling really positive and improving in the races a little bit too. Not anything special but, I mean, I got a better start in that LCQ and was up there for a bit.
And then what happened in the final qualifier? Your time didn’t change until the last minute of it.
The track was faster but I wasn’t faster. I was trying to get a faster time but I just couldn’t get through the whoops as good as I did in that first one.
I was kind of bummed too. I still qualified for the night show but I wanted to improve and I got 37th again. I didn’t get worse but I didn’t get better.
You got a bit of screen time. It looked like you were on a heater lap but then there was someone down at the end of the whoops.
Ya, that was the one time I tried…you could kind of jump through them but they were really squirrelly. Urky (Kevin Urquhart) was getting mad at me…well, not mad, but wanted me to buck up and hit them, so I did and that was the one lap where (Ty) Masterpool, I think, was down at the end of them. I had to chop the throttle in the middle of the whoops and that’s just the worst thing to do.
And did you make any bike changes heading into the night show?
No, I haven’t made any changes to my bike since we’ve been here. I’ve thought about dropping my forks down for the whoops and I tried practicing with it, but it just sucks in the corners. You sacrifice the corners for the whoops which is the battle that Supercross has always been. I ended up just sticking with the fork set up for the corners.
You were in the second heat race and out near the outside. You got pinched off right off the gate drop.
I got a decent jump but I wheelied a bit so I had to clutch it and that’s all it took to drop back a bit and get pinched and that was embarrassing.
Then it looked like you gave the inside in the first corner a look.
I figured everyone was going to drift to the outside and there was no use following everyone out there.
And then you basically have to just close your eyes and hit the rhythm after the first turn? How was that for you heading in there with all those riders together?
I think going up the inside and then following the inside in the next section was the best but you have to be careful because everyone is going to bunch up in the corner and cut down. That’s where you need to be careful but it’s all open track there. On the outside is where everyone is. You can’t even see the jumps because there’s riders.
Do you think you’ll just get more comfortable in that chaos?
I don’t know if you ever do. I definitely felt better on Tuesday doing it than I did at the first one. I just felt way more confident jumping with people.
And I think you were 18th at the flag.
Something like that. I haven’t even been looking at my results at all, to be honest.
And then you were out on the outside in the LCQ. You were shown up in 7th and then immediately dropped to 18th? What happened out there?
Ya, I had pretty much the same gate as the heat but I got a way better jump and just held it on around the outside and I was up there in the top 10 for sure. I saw “6th” on the pit board as I went by.
I was right behind Jarrrett Frye and we were going into the whoops and he went to cut down on somebody and I hit his back tire and somebody was coming up to pass me all at the same time and so we just got in a huge pile-up and like 6 of us ended up going down.
It was nice to get a good start and feel what it feels like to get a good start and race that fast pace right away. That’s what I want.
You could see in the first turn when everyone started chopping the throttle, you held it on and you did have a great start.
Ya, I was pumped on that. It’s an improvement from the first race so just to be up there racing and not fighting at the back in the sketchiness.
So then you were 15th in the LCQ but you were only like 5 seconds off your 2020 Canadian number 77 Jerry Robin.
Ya, I kind of catching up and then he would pull back. Me and Frye got up at the same time and got going. I was kind of following him for 2 or 3 laps. I was just holding on to him and we were catching up to Robin and then he passed Robin. I just kind of stuck in behind him.
So, at the end of the day, you were happy with your riding?
Ya, for sure. I mean, I made the night show and then I backed it up and I was up there in the LCQ battling with some fast guys so I can’t complain.
Did you stay around and watch the mains?
Ya, absolutely. I was bummed for (Justin) Cooper. He was riding unreal. You se it on TV but it’s not like in the stadium where you can watch them around the whole track. The consistency of how fast his laps are is just nuts. It was a good race in both classes. Sometimes races get boring but (Tuesday) night was not boring.
So what do you do for the rest of the week?
We wanted to try and ride (Thursday) but we got our trailer back today at like noon and then we returned the U-Haul and it was a scramble a little bit because we had to return the U-Haul at a certain time, at 1, and we got the trailer at noon. We had to just empty out the U-Haul, leave all our stuff there, and then return it, go back to the trailer and reorganize everything because we just ripped it apart grabbing stuff. So that’s what we’ve been doing all day, pretty much.
We were going to ride, maybe (Thursday), but we’re not 100% on that and it’s not looking too good.
Well, that’s great, Casey. Thanks for talking with us again. Enjoy the rest of the week and good luck on Saturday.
Thanks a lot.
Sponsors: Carlson Racing, Husqvarna Canada, Blackfoot Direct, Fox Canada, Shift Mx, Bulldog MX Training, Eks Brand Goggles, Direct Suspension, Mobius Braces, Matrix Concepts, M7 Designs.