"I Did Have a Chance to Stay at Star. It Was 250 Only" | Christian Craig on Going to Rockstar Husqvarna

Christian Craig discusses why he chose Rockstar Husky, how he follows up his best career season, getting his championship bike, and more.

After winning a Monster Energy Supercross 250 championship, and then having a great showing on a 450 in the Pro Motocross Championship, Christian Craig made the decision to change teams. We talked to Christian about the move to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team and how things have been going.

For the full interview, check out the YouTube video right here. If you're interested in the condensed written version, scroll down just a bit further.

  Jamie Guida

Jamie Guida – Vital MX: Christian, what’s been going on lately?

Christian Craig: Not much, man. Just out here in Florida getting boot camp training going. We're in the thick of it right now.

Vital MX: How are we feeling? Let's be honest. New team, new bike, quite a bit different than what you're used to. I know you're going to tell me it's great, but really, how is it?

Christian: I'm definitely more comfortable than I thought I would be. And it is a big change for me from my program. It's a big change for our family. It's been good, though. I think change is good sometimes and keeps you out of your comfort zone. And especially in this sport, you get too content. That's when we start going backwards. I'm not going to say it's been easy, and every day's been amazing, but I'm learning and just trying to push each day and get better and try to be ready for A-1.

Vial MX: What has been the biggest thing to adjust to on the bike? Has it been difficult to adjust to the Austrian bike?

Christian: Not as much as I thought. Obviously, it was a lot narrower than what I'm used to. The narrow feeling was definitely something I had to get used to. Other than that, nothing too crazy. They've been throwing a lot of stuff at me to try, and that's something new for me. I'm not a big tester. I like to just do my laps, do my motos, and move on. But, you know, we're in the big boy class now and anything to get the bike better and get me better. So, it's been good. It’s been challenging. But also, I'm learning a lot and riding with some bad dudes for sure.

Vital MX: You're coming off the best season of your career. The 250 Supercross West Championship, fifth overall in 450 Pro Motocross, some podiums, seven top fives if I'm not mistaken. Give me one or two words to describe your season in ‘22.

Christian: The best. I mean, it would just be the best season for me. You know, it's by far the most consistent I've ever been, winning, putting myself in good positions. After a year like this, it's hard to top for sure. But I am on the right program now. I have a good team that can propel me to try to top what I did this year. And it's something I can hang my hat on, you know, and finally have a full year of, “I stayed healthy”. It's all about keeping that going. Nothing changes. It's the same mentality, believe in myself and take it race by race.

Vital MX: Other than winning the actual championship, what are a couple of the most memorable moments of the season?

Christian: I would say A1 for sure. Just because it's such a big race. I've never done good at that race and to go out there and win it was huge to me. And I think that took my confidence to a whole ‘nother level. And then San Diego with that first turn crash and then coming from behind to get up to a podium, that was huge and something that I'll always remember. It wasn't the best way to do it, but I was last and somehow came back to third. So, a memorable night for sure.

Vital MX: Are you satisfied with your outdoor performance? And as you get older, what do you have to do to continue to get better? At some point riders peak, but you've got to find a way to get better every year.

Christian: Yeah. I mean, you could say with my age, you don't know where my peak is. I just had the best year ever at 30. I think you're seeing a bit of a change with riders and how long they're going now. I think never be too comfortable with yourself. Just always try to push, always try to get to that next level. You can always be better. And yeah, this summer it was awesome. I think I had a couple of races where I had a little bit of a down slope and just didn't ride my best. But you know, most of the motos I was pretty consistent, led some laps and I checked off most of the things I had written down before the season for goals. So, yeah, I can't complain.

Vital MX: With such an amazing season behind you, it kind of seems risky to change teams. Why Rockstar Husky? And was there an opportunity to stay at Star if you'd wanted to?

Christian: I have always wanted to ride for one of De Coster’s brands. I've always just wanted to try it and I've talked to him in the past and it just never worked out. And this time around, obviously it did. So, you know, I believe in it. I believe in the program and everything about it. And yeah, I did have a chance to stay with Star, but it was 250 only and that's something I wasn't willing to do. I was ready to move up. I'm older in the class and I got my championship. It's time to move up and try to make a good career in the 450 class.

Vital MX: Now you have a chance to work at Baker's Factory. What's that been like? What's surprised you? What do you like about it? What don't you like about it?

Christian: It's not like I haven't done that many laps before. It's not like I haven't trained that hard before. It's just a different feel with Aldon. You go in and you get your work, and you get out. There's no fluff around it, you know? You treat it like an office job, and that's fine. It's just something I had to adjust with. And I do have some pretty cool guys that I am training with, like Aaron Plessinger and Malcolm Stewart. We keep it fun and then we also get our work done. Aldon’s obviously a legend of the sport and he's taken a lot of riders to championships, so I'm hoping that he'll help me progress and get me better.

Vital MX: You just used the phrase, treat it like an office job. That doesn't seem fun to me. And riding dirt bikes is supposed to be fun. But then you said you have some fun guys, so I'm sure you find that enjoyment. But does it take away a little bit of the enjoyment of training? 

Christian: Yes and no. You're not going to go out there, throw some whips and get some Insta bangers. That's one thing that's you're not going to get. You're there, you get your warmup, and you do your laps and everything's on a clock. It’s just structured and I'm fine with that. I've obviously trained with a lot of people and Swanie was awesome for me. It's just something you have to learn and adapt to. Every day we're pushing each other and I'm riding with past champions. It's pretty crazy. But I think it does help push you to that next level.

Vital MX: The industry knows the Craig Family. You recently had to make another big move. How was that for the family?

Christian: Yeah, I think it is a lot on us. The kids are still in that young stage where it's not a big change for them to switch schools. But I know Jagger is at that point now where it is going to be harder. So, I do see us staying here for a long time. We do love it here in Clermont. I've spent summers here before just training, and now we're here full time. And the kids are having fun going to school full time. And yeah, it's crazy what we have going on and we've moved three times in three years. We're here for at least two years and I'm planning on staying longer.

Vital MX: You recently got you championship bike. How cool is that to have your championship bike in your house? 

Christian: Oh, it's pretty surreal. I get to walk by it every day. As soon as my old mechanic, Duffe, texted me a picture of it that it was completed, my wife hit the road and drove three and a half hours up to Tallahassee to grab it. I think that shows how excited we were to get it and put it in our little office that we're building, along with the memories that we've made so far. And man, it is cool. You look at it and it takes you back to all the races and that whole season. And people couldn't believe that it didn't run. A lot of stuff inside is pretty hollowed out in the motor, and out of the suspension. Which that's normal for a championship bike. So, I'm fine with that. I don't plan on riding it. I want to keep it forever.

Vital MX: You mentioned Duffe, and of course, you had Jericho as a mechanic and a number of other guys. How important is that relationship with your mechanic? How does it benefit you on your race days and during the week?

Christian: I think it's huge to have someone that knows what triggers you and knows what motivates you. Knows when to not say anything and knows when to say stuff. So, it's been tough because I've had a new mechanic the past three or four years. I've had to switch guys or people have moved over or quit or something. But everyone I end up getting, we have a good relationship with. Duffe was awesome. Derek “Jericho” Rankin, he was cool. I have Jared Warwick now, and he was Anderson's practice mechanic back in the day. And then he worked at AEO over the summer, so it's been good getting to know him, telling them what works for me, what doesn't. And yeah, it's been fun. It's been cool getting to know him. It just didn't work out with Duffe. He didn't want to move to California. I don't blame him. So, he's got Deegan now and I still talk to him quite a bit.

Vital MX: Another box checked of things you wanted out of your career was getting to ride for Fox. I believe you said that was always a goal or a dream. Why was that such a big deal to you? 

Christian: Yeah. Growing up in my era, what I grew up watching was Stew and RC and what they wore was Fox head-to-toe and they always had the coolest gear. I remember Stew showing up at his first Supercross in all pink gear and I was in the stands and always remembered that. It’s a huge company, very well known, very respected in the sport and bring a lot to the table. When they came to me, I was kind of blown away and of course I said yes. And it's been awesome. A bunch of cool guys there. I got to know them and everything's going good. It's been fun and a relationship that I plan on keeping for a long time, even after racing. 

Vital MX: With everything falling into place the way you hoped; a championship last year, riding for one of Roger's teams, Fox Gear, where does that put you mindset wise? What do you hope to accomplish? What are your goals this year? What are you realistically looking for to complete this mission of your career?

Christian: I have gotten asked that so many times. I hate saying what I expect out of myself, you know? I know what I'm capable of, but I'm not going to put a number on it. Even last year when I was racing, I knew where I belonged, but I wasn't like, yeah, championship or bust. This year it's I know what I'm capable of and I know that's top five and some podiums for sure. And maybe I'll surprise myself and go get some wins but just try to be there every week. And I think consistency is going to be huge for me. There’s 17 rounds and I need to be at every race and show up ready to race and try to be the best I can.

Vital MX: You just said that maybe I'll surprise myself and get some wins. Be honest. Why would that be a surprise?

Christian: I mean, you look down the gate, you're going to see a lot of past champions just like me and people that have a lot more race wins, a lot more experience. You know, you can shoot for the stars, but you have to be realistic with yourself. I'm going to put in the work. And if that is fifth or first at A1, then we'll take it and work on that. I just try to keep it levelheaded, not get too carried away. Obviously, I want to win. That's the main goal. But I need to get a podium first. I need to be consistent first and then let that come into play, you know? 

Vital MX: If you shoot for the stars and have higher expectations than are realistic and then you don't meet those expectations, would that bother you? Would it hurt you mentally?

Christian: No. I mean, last years some of my goals was to be at every race. And I missed the last two of Supercross in 2021. So, yeah, it stings. But you always set goals high and try to tick them off one by one. You can't always be perfect. You have to take it race by race. And by the end of it, we'll reevaluate.

Vital MX: You've talked about your friendship with Dylan Ferrandis, how cool that was to have somebody that you really bonded with on the same team and the families hung out. That friendship now is long distance. Is that a bit of a bummer for you as far as your day to day not having somebody that you're so close to?

Christian: Yes and no. We still send each other videos. You know, he'll send me videos of him riding and ripping, and I'll send him videos also. But you know, we're racing each other now, so we're still going to be friend, and keep the respect. But yeah, we're 3 hours away from each other. Obviously, we're not going to go get dinner every week, but we'll see each other on the weekend and keep that friendship going.

Vital MX: Michael Lindsey wanted me to ask you about some of the younger kids that you've been on teams with over the years, Chase Sexton and the Lawrence brothers, I guess they would call you dad. Do you enjoy that role of being a mentor to the younger guys? Is that something that you've embraced?

Christian: Geico had so many amateurs coming up that they would ride with us, and I'd become close with them. I think he's referring to Carson Mumford. He always called me Dad. And I felt like I was a great mentor to him and still kind of am, even though we're long distance. But when kids look for help, I always try to try to help. He's got a good family and a good support team. I always try to be there for him, good and bad. This sport’s tough, you're not always going to win. You're going to struggle. 

Vital MX: Your real son, Jagger's busy racing. How’s that going?

Christian: I mean, we're not going to put results out there. I will say that. We're making it through the races. But they're having a blast. It's been cool. I got to go there the first day of racing at Mini O’s and got to take them up. And then obviously I'm riding full time down here. So, Paige and the kids got to make the day trip every day, which it's a lot for her. But seeing the pictures and videos of all the memories they are making right now, it's awesome. And, you know, that's what I got to do growing up. And if he wants to keep doing it, we'll keep doing it.

Vital MX: That's awesome. I feel like a few years ago he had no interest, really. He rode for a little bit, and I think he stopped riding for a while. Now he's all in.

Christian: Yeah. And now I'll always bring it up and offer it to him. And now he just jumps on the offer. So, most of the days after school, we will go do a little afternoon session at a track or something. When he wants to do it, I'm there for it and keep it going. As long as he has that drive.


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