In a valiant effort of championship status, Christian Craig goes from last after a first turn crash to finish third at San Diego in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship 250 East Class.
“It’s going to worry some people with what I was able to do tonight,” stated a confident Craig after his dominating comeback from last.
After winning back-to-back races to start off the 2022 season, all eyes were on Craig to make it three in a row in his hometown. A perfect day of pole qualifying and a heat race win was quickly drained by a first lap tumble when multiple riders got pinched off just shy of the holeshot line. The Star Yamaha rider started on the gate alongside championship contender Hunter Lawrence, who also had eventual race winner Michael Mosiman on the other side of the gate master.
“I took a hard left,” Lawrence said with a chuckle, then focused on his serious response to the gatedrop crash. “I didn’t see anyone (to the left) and by the time of the contact, it was too late.”
“We all kind of bunched up going into the first turn,” shared Craig from his perspective. “I’m pretty sure it was Hunter’s back wheel that went left, and I tried to grab front brake and went the other way. Those things happen, but then you’re sitting in the ground and seeing some oil pouring on the bike. Luckily, that was from another bike on top of mine.
Once I saw my bike was good, I wanted to see how much I could catch up.”
Craig went over the handlebars, as did Jo Shimoda and Ryan Surratt, collecting more riders with Garrett Marchbanks and Chris Blose. After being the last to leave the scene, Craig started his uphill battle to salvage as many points as possible.
“I put my head down,” said the current championship points leader. “My fitness showed, was able to dig deep to come from last to third. I think I proved a lot of people wrong tonight. This championship is getting fun now.”
And charge he did. In the closing laps, he found himself in fourth approaching a battle for the podium position. But it wasn’t just any competitor holding that spot. It was one of the toughest riders to pass, both physically and mentally: Vince Friese.
“I was watching my board, saw I was in P4, and then I see Vince (Friese) in third and I’m like, ‘Alright, I know he’s going to put up a fight for this podium. Why wouldn’t he?’ I made a pass in the whoops, he came back to the inside and then he parked me. We literally came to a stop. I was like, ‘Are we gonna go?’ Then when I block-passed him, he actually yelled in his helmet like it was a ‘I’m gonna let you go.’ I kind of laughed at that one.
“But when I saw him in third, I knew I had to be smart with this one, pass him in a good spot before he does something crazy.”
With a six-point lead in the championship, Craig knows there’s still plenty of season left.
“I’m not gonna sit here and be a cry baby about it. I’m thankful to be in this position.”