AMSOIL Arenacross Interview with Sean Cantrell

The Road to Supercross rider discusses winning his AMSOIL Arenacross Debut

ELLENTON, FL (February 19, 2016) - Thus far during the 2016 AMSOIL Arenacross season, the contingent of up-and-coming riders in Ricky Carmichael's Road to Supercross have left a lasting impression, showing they'll be a force to be reckoned with in the future. Last weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM's Sean Cantrell kicked off his professional career with a win, going bar-to-bar with Eastern Regional Arenacross Lites Class points leader Daniel Herrlein in a memorable AMSOIL Arenacross debut.

This weekend Cantrell has his sights on even more success as the championship travels to Tampa, Florida, for one night of action inside Amalie Arena. The confidence is there for Cantrell, and he's optimistic about his chances of contending for an Arenacross Class win on Saturday night, which would allow him to join the elite company of Austin Forkner and Aaron Plessinger as the only Road to Supercross riders to win a Main Event in the premier class.

AMSOIL Arenacross caught up with Cantrell to get his thoughts on last weekend and what he's looking forward to in Tampa.

Cantrell took the Arenacross Lites Class win in his pro debut.
Cantrell took the Arenacross Lites Class win in his pro debut.Photo Courtesy of AMSOIL Arenacross and ShiftOne Photography

Sean, you had a great professional debut last weekend in AMSOIL Arenacross. Talk about your night and how you're feeling headed into Tampa tomorrow night?
Like you said, it went pretty well. There were some ups and downs. Practice was pretty rough, I struggled through the whoops all day. Once it came down to race time I had a different mentality and I just went for it. I got through the Heat Races clean and didn't have to go through any LCQ's which was a big confidence booster. I got the holeshot in the [Arenacross] Lites Main Event and I knew I was capable of winning. I just went out there and had some fun. It was really cool being in front of the crowd. I definitely had pressure on me [from Daniel Herrlein] but I just tried to ride my own race. It's a different riding style; you have to play both defense and offense the entire race. I was able to get the [Arenacross Lites] win and in the Arenacross Class I kind of struggled. I had a little crash after the whoops in the first Main Event. I think I was running sixth or seventh, but it put me in the back row for the next Main Event. It was kind of unfortunate, but I'm definitely more confident than I was last week going into Tampa.

Now that you have a race and a win under your belt, what was your biggest takeaway in how to be successful in AMSOIL Arenacross?
Everybody is going to say that the starts are the most important, and they definitely are, but it's about what you can do the first couple laps. If you can get out front and ride your own race, build a lead, feel confident in yourself and your bike, then you can just control the race. What I learned the most is that the whoops are no joke. Everybody told me, but I underestimated them for sure. I worked on hitting whoops a little bit this week and I should definitely be ready. I was definitely aggressive [last week], like everyone was telling me to be, and it worked in my favor.

Cantrell is ready to challenge the stars of the Arenacross Class.
Cantrell is ready to challenge the stars of the Arenacross Class.Photo Courtesy of AMSOIL Arenacross and ShiftOne Photography

You mention that you received a lot of advice heading into AMSOIL Arenacross. What did you do to prepare? I've been riding supercross on and off the last few months. When I was in California I did a little bit after Monster Cup [in Las Vegas] and recently I've been staying at the Millsaps Training Facility down in Georgia. The past two weeks I've been riding supercross and training with Dakota Alix, Anthony Rodriguez, Keith Tucker and all those guys. They've all had to race a couple rounds in AMSOIL Arenacross; Keith gave me a lot of advice. I think he's done it the most. What everyone has been saying, and what Colleen [Millsaps] has been saying, it definitely all paid off. I'm just going to [keep] going out there and have fun. I know I can get top 10; I just want to have fun doing it.

Are you coming into Tampa looking for the win in the Arenacross Class? Absolutely. I know I can do some damage in the [Arenacross] Lites Class, but in the Arenacross Class that's a whole different story. I know Austin [Forkner] won and Chase [Sexton] did pretty well, so it's my turn now. [Jacob] Hayes and all those guys, they're no joke. It all depends on the track and like I said earlier, the start is a really big key. If I get out front off the start, that's a different story. I'd like to be up there. I'd like to be top three, but I just got to figure out the whoops early and not let them ruin me for the rest of the day like they did last week.

What's been the best experience in AMSOIL Arenacross so far? Just being in the arena in front of all the fans. Everything you do they see, and if you make the smallest mistake the crowd goes wild. It's crazy. It's a different scene. I like the racing [in AMSOIL Arenacross]; all the way from practice to the last Main Event, it's pretty cool.

Cantrell is the latest Road to Supercross rider to achieve success in AMSOIL Arenacross this season.
Cantrell is the latest Road to Supercross rider to achieve success in AMSOIL Arenacross this season.Photo Courtesy of AMSOIL Arenacross and ShiftOne Photography

The seventh round of the 2016 AMSOIL Arenacross season commences tomorrow night from Tampa's Amalie Arena, starting at 4 p.m. PT / 7 p.m. ET.

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