Last weekend, Jayce Pennington swept all three motos at the North Central Loretta Lynn Regional Championship in the 250B class. The week before, he qualified with a third overall in the Schoolboy 2 class behind two of the best motocross amateurs in the country at Indian Hills MX. Next weekend, he plans to get qualified in the Schoolboy 1 class at Sunday Creek Youth Mid-East Regional Championship. We caught up with the number 131 from Walnut, Illinois to talk about his Road to Loretta’s.
Glory Hog: So, Jayce, sweeping the 250B class at Millville this weekend I’m sure was no easy feat. You must be very proud. Tell us about the weekend.
Jayce: On Friday for practice, I was not riding very well at all. I was two to three seconds off the pace. And I just went back to the hotel, sat in the hot tub and tried to turn it around and I did on Saturday. I only had one moto because I was the last moto. I got the holeshot and just rode my own race. I was pretty smooth, the track wasn’t very hard. Then on Sunday, I got the holeshot and Sam Wise was behind me and he was kind of pushing me. I managed to keep the lead and I think I won by five to six seconds. In the last moto I got the holeshot again. The track was gnarly; it was the last moto of the weekend. And he started to catch me half-way through but I just rode my own race and managed to get the win.
What do you believe was the difference from practice on Friday and racing? Was there something you did different, take new lines, to the bike, or was it just getting those holeshots?
Well, Billy from Powerband was there and he was helping me out a bunch. We did the suspension. The track was way gnarlier on Friday than Saturday and Sunday. But right before he left, we made a few adjustments to my shock and that definitely helped a lot. But pulling holeshots are key to any race so I think that helped out a lot too.
A week before you raced on rough conditions at Indian Hills MX in Du Quoin. Did that help or are you used to riding on rough terrain?
Yeah, I only been there about once or twice. And when I been there it was bad weather. The track wasn’t really rough but it was still pretty technical with all the mud, mulch and whatnot. Yeah, it definitely got me prepared.
Were you surprised or were those the results you expected going into the Millville Regional?
Yes, I definitely expected to win. I did not know who all would be there but the weekend before at Indian Hills, I did not do as good as I wanted to. I crashed in my first moto, kind of hit my head, my brain was off. I know I had to turn things around for the upcoming weekend at Millville. I did. I wasn’t really going into it thinking oh let’s just settle, get qualified. Obviously, that was something I wanted to do, but I wanted to win. I needed to win.
"I WASN’T REALLY GOING INTO IT THINKING OH LET’S JUST SETTLE, GET QUALIFIED. OBVIOUSLY, THAT WAS SOMETHING I WANTED TO DO, BUT I WANTED TO WIN. I NEEDED TO WIN."
That seems to be the mentality of many riders have this year. They just don’t want to go and get qualified; they are battling and pushing hard trying to get wins at the regionals. Is that something in your training?
Yeah, I’ve been working with Ronnie Tichenor and riding down at GPF, just riding with lots of guys. Once I got my speed up to them, it really boosted my confidence and I know what I can do and know where I can be. So I can say my training helps the mental part of this sport.
The last two weeks must have added some new confidence in you, proving you can compete on different tracks. With Indian Hills hard packed and in the mud, and Millville’s varied conditions, sometimes sand, sometimes hard packed. But both are rough. Are you happy knowing that you can ride that KTM at race-winning pace in a variety of conditions?
Well, Chase Sexton and Austin Forkner were at Indian Hills and they killed it. I think it tells me where I need to be. And I wasn’t there, and I definitely wasn’t one-hundred percent at Indian Hills. Indian Hills told me where I wanted to be. So in Millville, I pushed a little harder. There wasn’t Chase Sexton or Austin Forkner there, so I really don’t know how I rode at Millville,
Going back to Indian Hills, you took third overall behind Chase Sexton and Austin Forkner to qualify in the Schoolboy 2 class. Not too shabby for a stacked up class. What are some things, your weak points that you need to work on to compete with those two and perhaps others for the championship?
I mean there is a hand-full of things. I say I need to ride rough tracks. Indian Hills and Millville were pretty rough. But training at GPF will definitely get me prepared. The track’s rough pretty much all the time. Other than obviously corners, riding a rough track will be the biggest part.
Obviously between now and Loretta’s you’ll be training hard. Are you going to take any break or go you just jump into training mode?
Well, right now I am going to Ohio next weekend for the last regional. I did not get qualified (in Schoolboy 1) at Indian Hills after crashing my first moto. So, I’m going to Ohio to race Schoolboy 1. Right after that I’ll be going down to GPF and get right into training for Loretta’s
You are already qualified for Schoolboy 2 and 250B for Loretta’s. What classes do you want to race at Loretta’s?
Well right now we are debating what classes we should race, either Schoolboy 1 or 2 and 250B. I’m kind of just getting comfortable on the 125. I rather race the 125 this year and just 250 at Loretta’s next year but we are having a few issues getting the 125 dialed in. So, I might be on the 250 this year instead of 125 and 250. But right now I really don’t know what I’ll be doing.
Lastly, who is helping you out and who are you riding for?
KTM, Tag Metals, Powerband, Nihilo, Arai, Von Zipper, FMF, Asterisk, Gaerne, Seven, Headhunter Industries, and ATVs and More, S.I. Motosports.
That's a pretty good list there. Thanks for your time and we will be watching you next week.
Yeah, no problem.