Justin Brayton - News Article
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3/26/2015 - Unsung Hero - Justin Brayton by Racer X

 

t’s easy to lose your spot in this sport. As we saw this past weekend, it’s not a matter of if you’ll miss time; it’s when and for how long. It’s compounded even more when a rider like Justin Brayton, on a new team and brand, misses a significant amount of time early in the season. After recovering from a grade-three AC separation and three fractures to his T-5, 6, and 7 vertebrae sustained at Anaheim 2, Brayton got the flu, and then that illness led to another. Brayton was finally healthy enough to return last Saturday in Detroit. We talked with him following a tenth-place finish.  

 

Racer X: How was the return?
Justin Brayton: It was good. Just stoked to be back at the races. It’s been a long time. It’s crazy. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, but it’s been about nine weeks. Super nervous before the first practices. It seemed like it’d been a while, but once I threw on my helmet and got rolling it was like I hadn’t missed a beat. Just need to work on my fitness. I’ve ridden four times since I got hurt. Just need to get my shoulder stronger and get some fitness. But I feel like the speed’s good. My bike’s awesome. All the BTO guys have stuck by me and KTM. It’s good to be back. Need to build and get up there and mix it up in the top five. 

 

Did it feel like Anaheim 1 a little bit all over again?
It kind of did. I just love this sport. I love racing and just was stoked to be back, just to be back around my team and friends. Pumped to be back. I love working towards something, so I’ve got something to work towards now, get up on there on the podium before the year’s out.

 

Were you expecting to be out this long? Did it take a little longer than you initially thought it would?
Yeah, it took a lot longer than initially thought. I actually started riding at about the five-week mark. My injuries, I had a separated AC joint and fractured three vertebrae in my back. I started riding and I actually rode twice, and then I got the flu, so that actually really set me back. And then I rode one time when I was over the flu, and then I actually got an illness called myalgia, which I got from having a high fever from having the flu, so basically a month longer than what I expected. It’s been a really, really tough month for me, just being so sick and now just clawing my way back. I was actually sick a week and a half ago and I talked to Forrest [Butler], the team manager. I was like, “I’m just committing to Detroit. Let’s do it. Let’s get back to the races.” Once I had my mind set on that I did everything possible. I rode a couple times this week and I’m just stoked to be back. I’m looking forward to St. Louis next week.

 

So it was more an illness than the back or the shoulder? You could have been back three or four weeks ago if not for the getting sick?
Yeah, it was kind of bad timing with Daytona. Daytona was going to be a tough one to come back at. Once I got the flu the plan was Indy. Even when I got the flu, my shoulder, it kind of re-aggravated it. It started hurting really bad again, just because my body was so weak. I’d never been so sick in my life. I was down and out for a few days where I couldn’t get out of the bed. My head hurt so bad I would be in tears. I’ve just never felt like that. So that was tough. It’s been a tough road, but that’s why I say I’m just so pumped to be back, feeling healthy, and back with all my friends. I feel like they’re my family. Stoked to be back.

 

You haven’t been on this team for very long. I think people forget that. This is only your third ride. Was it good just to get some time on the KTM and with the team, and work on some changes?
With the brand-new bike I haven’t spent that much time on it, but it’s so good. It was neat to sit back and watch [Ryan] Dungey do what he’s been doing, and watch Marvin [Musquin] do what he’s been doing. The bike is unbelievable. So I knew that the platform was there when I came back. It was just a matter of getting healthy enough to throw a leg over it, and then once I threw a leg over it, be confident enough to come race. I didn’t want to endanger other people or endanger myself, come back, and get hurt again. I knew that I was ready to race. I just hadn’t had much seat time. I knew I was strong enough. I knew my fitness wasn’t quite there, but I’ve been able to bicycle and do some gym stuff the whole time, other than being sick. There’s definitely a lot of new stuff. Like you said earlier, it does feel like an Anaheim 1 to me. Excited to close out the year, and I want to get these guys a podium—that’s the goal. 

 

Pretty technical track tonight, especially that first rhythm. It seemed difficult. You could jump on but you could clear it. What was the strategy there? Was it as difficult as it actually looked?
Yeah, and for me usually this is my wheelhouse. This is a track that I love—some big whoops, really big rhythms. The plan this morning when we walked the track was just get the basic rhythm down and do something you can do for twenty laps, so I actually never did the quads. I never went three over the table. It’s really hard for me to hold back like that, but I’m actually proud of myself leaving here knowing that I did that. I just clicked off twenty solid laps doing the basic line. Yeah, I wasn’t the fastest guy, but we got a top-ten under our belt. Now start building more and more confidence, and getting more bike time during the week. But I really enjoyed the track. It was fun.

 

You’re one of the guys that actually does pull the trigger on some of the bigger stuff. Was it in your mind the whole time, “I want to do this”?
When I walked the track I was like, man, this would be fun. But like I said, I was proud of myself to pull back because one little mistake and I could be out longer. I don’t like sitting at home for my sponsors and for myself. I want to be here, and I want to be here for the long haul. Unfortunately I got hurt, but everything happens for a reason, and maybe I got smarter and will not do those big things anymore. It was cool to see people do it. Unfortunately I didn’t pull the trigger, but I think if it was three weeks down the road I would have been pulling the trigger. 

 

 

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