Justin Brayton took his first ever supercross win and did it at the legendary Daytona one week prior to his 34th birthday – making him the oldest winner in supercross history!
Brayton was in understandable shock at the win but he showed brilliant poise and mental strength to weather the Tomac storm in the final laps under immense pressure to ensure a win that he will never be forget.
“I cant explain it, there are so many emotions that goes through you,” said a still-disbelieving Brayton. “To win my first race at Daytona of all places, I would never have expected it. Typically outdoors doesn’t come that easy to me and this place is more of an outdoor style track.
“I knew I had to put in really good laps in the beginning with that start, I made the pass on Christian in the first lap and really just tried to get a gap and manage that gap. I saw Coop make a charge and once Eli got him there was maybe four laps to go and I was like, ‘ oh boy, here he comes!’ But I put together good laps, I knew at the end of the race with the track that rough you can only go so fast and I thought I managed it well. It’s crazy I finally got a win!”
Brayton feels that his age, while not necessarily physically beneficial, is certainly helping him mentally under pressure.
“I actually feel, physically, I am probably not as fit or whatever you want to call it as I was when I was 25 but mentally I am am tenfold better than I was when I was 25 and 8 think that makes up for it. I have two kids at home and I really ave a good balance, I go home, see my kids, I take my daughter to swimming lessons and I can kind of detach myself from the grind. And then when it’s time to throw down I can do it, I feel better than ever.
“A lot of people say that but I think I have proven it, I can run up front on any style of track and that is a testament to the bike, my team and the whole family. Everything has came together and mentally I am really strong and I can get it done when it needs to be done, that’s the biggest thing.”
It is a sign of Brayton’s journey and his humility that his first pro race began back in 2002 at an Arenacross and he was just hoping to qualify for the night show – but he almost won the main event! Now, 16 years later, Brayton won a 450 supercross main event on one of the most famous and prestigious American motorsports facilities at Daytona.
“In 2002 I didn’t think I would ever qualify for a supercross main! I went to Des Moines Arenacross, I was a senior in high school and I went there on stock Hondas and I thought I would maybe qualify for the night program. I ended up being fastest in practice, winningnthe heat race and I almost won the main event. From that day that was a life changer, 100% a life changer, from that day I started to believe I could be somewhat okay at this.”
They say nice guys don’t win but at Daytona in 2018, Justin Brayton one of the nicest and most mellow guys in the pits proved the theory wrong, and his genuine, humble character meant the entire industry was pleased for him!
Pic: Doug Turney