Have a kid. Turn 30 years old. And maybe, “you won’t ride like an idiot.”
At least, that’s what Troy Lee/Red Bull/GASGAS rider Justin Barcia credits for his recent streak of three consecutive podium finishes.
While his success in Monster Energy AMA Supercross has been dampened in the past by the frequent on-track scuffles and heated rivalries that have occurred, there seems to have been a turning of the page for “Bam Bam” this season.
Fifteen years into his professional career, the 31-year-old has settled down — literally and figuratively.
Off-track, Barcia has a new focus on family life with his wife, Amber, and son, Sonny. On the track, he appears to be riding with the big picture in mind. Last Saturday afternoon, the crowd at Atlanta Motor Speedway witnessed a glimpse of the “new and improved” Justin Barcia.
During the second heat race, Barcia and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson fought back and forth for the lead, with Anderson defending and Barcia on the attack. Fans perched on the edge of their seats as, almost surprisingly, nothing happened.
The two competitors made quite the stir in the early season, when Anderson infamously called out Barcia’s aggressive riding style on Twitter — following a tense heat race moment on Jan. 21 in San Diego, Calif. But the drama seemed to be far behind them in Atlanta, as they both rode a clean race, pulled off the track calmly and exchanged a few respectful words.
“I was like, ‘Hey, good ride.’ He had a great race, and I was smart. I saw some spots where I could’ve gone for the move, but, how many days clean am I now?” Barcia joked. “I told myself, ‘Be cool. It’s just a heat race.’”
Anderson technically was first to the checkered flag, but due to a penalty the No. 21 was dealt for his off-track detour early in the heat race, Barcia was credited with the victory.
When the gate dropped for the main event, the two were at it again, jostling for third place during the opening laps. A strong run through the whoops eventually handed Barcia the position, while Anderson slipped back in the pack.
The No. 51 passed H.E.P. Motorsports’ Ken Roczen to secure second, marking his third consecutive trip to the podium and sixth straight top-five finish. While avoiding incidents has certainly been a deciding factor in reaching the podium, Barcia’s also made important progress with his bike in recent weeks.
“Right around Daytona time I got comfortable with my setup. I was just a little off from the podium pace before that,” Barcia said. “I’m just enjoying life right now.”
Barcia has been at his best in the latter half of the season, but since his performance in the beginning of the year was not as strong, he is fourth in the championship and 53 points behind leader Eli Tomac.
Still, the most recent positive for Barcia to celebrate is the signing of a two-year contract with his GASGAS team, which the No. 51 rider confirmed during the post-race press conference at Atlanta.
Barcia added, “We’ve been at it a long time, but I’m ready to keep on going and try to get one of these wins here.”