It was another solid night for Team Honda HRC at the AMA Supercross series’ second and final stop in Atlanta, with Trey Canard scoring his fourth consecutive podium finish—a hard-fought third. The Oklahoman got off the line to a decent start and advanced to second by lap seven. It looked as if Canard might be able to contest for the win, but mistakes caused him to fall off the leaders’ pace and ultimately relinquish one position by the checkered flag. Joining Canard on the podium was GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, who rebounded after a disappointing race last weekend to finish second.

Meanwhile, Cole Seely’s night didn’t go as planned, as a bad start and a mishap halfway through the 20-lap race combined to leave him in 12th place at night’s end. The premier-class rookie has had an up-and-down first half of the season and looks forward to improving his consistency during the second half.

NOTES

  • The same weekend that Team Honda HRC cleared the midway point in the AMA Supercross season, their MXGP counterparts kicked off their season halfway around the world, in Qatar. Just hours after Trey Canard finished third in the Georgia Dome, Team HRC’s Gautier Paulin did likewise at the Losail Circuit.
  • Prior to Saturday’s track walk, Seely interviewed with Fox Sports 1 for a feature called “Legendary Influence” that will air during the broadcast for the Daytona Supercross by Honda this coming weekend. The piece will showcase the relationship between Cole and his riding coach, five-time AMA Motocross champion and two-time AMA Supercross champion Jeff Ward. “Jeff and I met almost 12 years ago and have worked together in some capacity ever since,” Seely said. “I couldn’t always afford to pay him, so he would help me here and there when he could, but once I could hire him fulltime, I jumped right on it. His knowledge and experience in racing are extremely helpful. He’s been where I am and knows what I’m going through firsthand. It’s comforting having him by my side.”
  • During the daytime program at Atlanta, Canard secured the third-quickest qualifying time at 53.695, just .188 seconds off the pace of GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac, who landed second at 53.507. Seely was seventh-fastest with 54.779. For the second consecutive weekend, Canard was the fastest rider on the track during the main event, laying down an impressive 54.505-second lap.
  • With the 56th annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR race running just down the road at Atlanta Motor Speedway, many of that sport’s top drivers were roaming the Supercross pits on Saturday. Drivers Casey Mears and Carl Edwards were two to stop by the Team Honda HRC truck to meet Canard and Seely.
  • On race day, Seely’s mechanic Rich Simmons joined Brian Kranz, mechanic for Tomac, to meet with a large group of students for the local Motorcycle Mechanics Institute campus. Both technicians are graduates of the program and were happy to give the pupils a glimpse of life as a factory mechanic.
  • Atlanta 2 served to spread out the title chase somewhat. Canard gained seven points on third-place Ken Roczen, but he also lost ground to the leading Dungey, whose advantage is now 30. Meanwhile, Seely slipped one spot to seventh, four behind Chad Reed. Tomac remains in fourth.
  • With the series having cleared its halfway point, at least one Honda CRF450R has finished on every podium of 2015. Canard has six rostrum finishes in nine races, while Tomac has four and Seely one. Honda and KTM are tied for the lead in the manufacturers’ points standings, at 199.

THE FOCUS: Farewell, Ray Conway

The Atlanta 2 Supercross marked the end of an era for Team Honda HRC, as it was the last event prior to the retirement of Honda Director of Racing Ray Conway. Conway, who humbly describes his job with the team as “behind-the-scenes logistics guy,” has been with American Honda for 28 years, a period that was preceded by a decade-long stint working at Honda dealerships. Through the company’s philosophy of giving its workers varied roles, Conway worked in areas including customer relations, service rep, rider training, demos, warranty, press and of course racing.

“My favorite role was probably the press job because in several cases, I got to take something that hadn’t existed before and introduce it to the American public and media,” Conway says. “I was spoiled by fantastic engineering from the factories, and I got to deliver the message: this is what the product is, this is what it does. Then a couple months later, I got to see the result in the media: Did I do a good job? Did the correct message make it to the customer? I really liked being able to see that and think, “I did that.”

When asked to name a favorite memory, Conway recalls preparing the race bikes for and doing rider support during the 1995 Nevada Rally, a weeklong off-road race around the Silver State. “That was maybe the coolest three or four months of my career,” he says. “I would do my dealer visits around Southern California, then come to Torrance and work all night with Johnny Campbell—he built the team’s XR600Rs and I built the XR400Rs. Then I’d go home, sleep a few hours and do it all over again the next day. We won every class. That was an example of that classic Honda thing where you did your job, but you also did something extra—and you were successful.”

Though he’s leaving, Conway says he’ll always have an appreciation for his longtime employer. “Honda is a standup company,” he says. “One thing I’ve learned through all my roles is that year over year, you can’t go wrong owning a Honda. When you walk into a Honda dealership and leave with something you like, the company, dealer and product won’t let you down.”

Trey Canard 41

“Obviously, I’m disappointed with the night, but I can’t really be too disappointed with a podium. I got a better start than last week, which is an improvement, so I feel good about that. The track was really hard to pass on, so I had to work really hard to get around some guys early. I got into second and felt like I had something for Dungey, but I think I rode a little too hard and started to make some mistakes that cost me time. Then with three laps to go, I made another big mistake, went off the track and Tomac got by me. I’m down 30 points now, which is a bummer, but I’m not giving up. There’s a lot of racing left to do, and I’m going to fight to the end.”

Cole Seely 14

“Things didn’t go as planned tonight. I rode pretty well in the heat race but just couldn’t get around [Blake] Baggett or [Andrew] Short. We had a good battle going but I got the short end of the deal because I wasn’t able to make the passes. I always hate going to the semi because even if you win it, you still have a pretty bad gate pick. In the main, I had to go way too far to the inside and got pinched off pretty bad off the start. From there it was basically just damage control and trying to work my way forward. At about the halfway mark something happened and I stalled, and basically had to start from scratch again. I was able to make it to 12th. I know it’s my rookie year, and things aren’t going to be perfect every weekend, but this isn’t how I wanted the night to go.”

Satoshi Matsushima

HRC Chassis Engineer

“It was a good night for Honda, as we had two guys on the podium. To win the championship though, we really needed to get the center spot on the podium. We know our riders and bikes are capable of winning; we just need to work a little harder to put everything together. We’ll keep trying."

Rich Simmons

Mechanic (Cole Seely)

“I’m not really sure what happened tonight. Cole seemed to ride good in practice but looked pretty flat during the heat and semi race. He rode okay but didn’t have the aggression or speed he needed to. There’s a fine line between being aggressive and going down, and maybe that’s what he’s thinking about, but there are only four spots available in the heat races; you have to be aggressive. His teammate passed three guys, and he didn’t pass any. In the main, he got a horrible start and was about 21st on the first lap, but he was riding better and making passes. He was in 12th when he stalled it and had to fight his way through the same people again.”

AMA Supercross 2015
Race Round 9   Atlanta

Results Session

Pos. Rider Num Nation Points Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 Dungey Ryan 5 USA 25 Red Bull KTM KTM
2 Tomac Eli 3 USA 22 Monster Energy Kawasaki Kawasaki
3 Canard Trey 41 USA 20 Red Bull KTM KTM
4 Tickle Broc 20 USA 18 Red Bull KTM KTM
5 Baggett Blake 4 USA 16 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS KTM
6 Grant Joshua 33 USA 15 Monster Energy Kawasaki Kawasaki
7 Reed Chad 22 AUS 14 CR22 Husqvarna
8 Roczen Ken 94 GER 13 Team Honda HRC Honda
9 Anderson Jason 21 USA 12 Rockstar Husqvarna Husqvarna
10 Peick Weston 23 USA 11 Autotrader/ JGR/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Suzuki
11 Millsaps David 18 USA 10 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS KTM
12 Seely Cole 14 USA 9 Team Honda HRC Honda
13 Hill Joshua 75 USA 8 Valley Motorsports Yamaha
14 Alessi Mike 800 USA 7 Smartop MotoConcepts Racing Honda
15 Short Andrew 29 USA 6 Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM WPS KTM
16 Wey Nicholas 27 USA 5 Team Tedder Kawasaki
17 Nicoletti Phillip 46 USA 4 Autotrader/ JGR/ Yoshimura/ Suzuki Factory Racing Yamaha
18 Chisholm Kyle 11 USA 3 Chisholm Racing KTM
19 Albertson Jimmy 77 USA 2 Jimmy Albertson Racing KTM
20 Weimer Jacob 12 USA 1 RCH Soaring Eagle Jimmy Johns Suzuki Factory Racing Suzuki
21 Schmidt Nicholas USA 1 TPJ.com/Fly Racing Suzuki
22 Partridge Kyle 199 USA 1 Rocky Mountain ATV Honda
Location Information

Georgia Dome, Georgia Dome Drive Northwest, Atlanta, GA, United States - View in Google Maps