Friday morning, between practice and his SuperBike race, Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Blake Young told me, “I have a weird feeling about today’s race. Usually I have a definite feeling before a race starts, about whether or not I’m going to win that race. But this feeling is just weird. I can’t tell if I’m going to win or do well or what. I don’t know what to think.”
Young won that SuperBike race. I didn’t have the chance to talk with him afterward, to find out what it felt like to have the uncertainty of his weird feeling transform into earned fortune. I didn’t have the chance until after Saturday’s SuperBike race, which he also won.
First I asked him if he’d had that same weird, uncertain feeling prior to Saturday’s race. He said he had. And he added, “This morning I was still recovering from yesterday’s race. I was worn out but I had to do it again. I didn’t know if I could.”
I then asked him what it was like for that weirdness of feeling to become the solid emotions of triumph. “I’m not sure I know what to think about it,” he replied. “These were both difficult races. Mentally difficult. Sometimes after a race I’m sick from physical exhaustion and feel like I’m going to throw up. But these two races at Daytona have been mentally exhausting. Really exhausting. I’m still recovering.
“In the race I had to be perfect. Trying to chase down Josh [Hayes] is so hard. He doesn’t make mistakes. His bike was fast and the only way I could make any ground on him was through the infield, but not by riding hard and forcing anything. To catch him I had to ride hard by riding perfectly. I had to hit every braking point. I had to nail everything in the infield, spot on. I had to reach inside. It was all in my head. Everything about winning these races was in my head. Forcing yourself to be so exact is what’s the most exhausting. Josh doesn’t give up, he doesn’t make mistakes. He gives nothing back to you. It’s going to take me longer to get over these races than the ones that have worn me out physically. But I did it. It was hard. Josh makes you ride harder than anyone else I’ve raced.”–Peter Jones