Jeff Kardas, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross

Adam Cianciarulo has found the missing piece

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Competition is forged in many different fires. Perhaps one of the hottest for a professional racer is disproving that niggling doubt in his mind that he might not be good enough.

It was one month ago that Adam Cianciarulo entered the Supercross season finale with a chance to win the 2019 250SX West championship. All he needed to do was ride a mistake-free race. Instead, he crashed in the event and handed rival Dylan Ferrandis the race and the title.

That little voice might have been given the opportunity to turn into a screaming roar. Instead, Cianciarulo calmed it and promised better things to come.

“I think the (Supercross season) has really been behind me since the week after it happened,” Cianciarulo told NBC Sports earlier this week.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career in terms of injuries and a bunch of other stuff. And there was a point in my career where I thought I was pretty much irrelevant. I thought I was a bust.

“Coming from amateurs into the pro ranks I was supposed to be this this super great rider who was supposed to win everything and I ended up getting hurt a lot and hindering my progress. I thought I was pretty much done. I thought I was going to be going to college and working. So to me, it puts everything in perspective. My fire and desire and want to win the championship is more than ever. (Losing the SX championship) hurts because it’s what we worked for. But at the same time, we’ve come so far and to be in this position – I think it would be a disservice to myself to let that continue to hinder me.”

Flash forward to Pala in Round 2 of the Motocross season. In the lead, Cianciarulo rode like a man possessed, jumping across ruts made by other riders to find his perfect line, feet off the pegs at times and flirting with disaster on every lap in search of his second win of the season.

The voice of doubt kept its mouth shut.

Adam Cianciarulo taking the checkers at Thunder Valley. Rich Shepherd, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross.

“I have one total win combined for all the other seasons compared to this season,” Cianciarulo said. “I think I just came into this season with a lot more confidence, more belief in myself and overall  just a stronger program – more well rounded.”

Then he won Thunder Valley last week for his best start to any season of his professional career.

“For it to transfer into three straight wins to start the season is awesome and it shows I’ve made a lot of improvements,” Cianciarulo continued. “And it definitely feels a lot different than it did in the past.

“I feel like I have something to prove every time I’m on a bike whether it’s practice or a race. I was always taught to race with a purpose. I think with the support system I have around me, I’d be doing them a disservice if I didn’t go out there and give my all every time I’m on the bike.”

The mistake at Las Vegas? Forgotten the moment Cianciarulo pulls into the gate.

“I wouldn’t say it’s motivated me more than I was already motivated for outdoors,” Cianciarulo said. “Sometimes you’re just dealt a band hand and I take responsibility for my mistake in Supercross and ultimately that’s what it was – a mistake – and it cost me. But either eway I was excited for outdoors to show what I had there. Maybe it put a little bit more of a chip on my shoulder, but I would have come out with the same intensity and fire as I have right now.

“The aggression you’re seeing with the riding: that just comes with the confidence and belief I have in myself. Ultimately that’s making the difference so far this year. When I go to the gate I think I’m the best guy and I think I should win. It’s amazing how much the mental side plays into it. I’ve always had the skills and talent to do it, but I was missing a few pieces in the past, and I certainly have a lot to prove as the season goes on, but it’s nice to start it off with that aggression and fire – and I just feel like I belong at the front.”

INDYCAR: Kanaan fastest in practice at Pocono

Chris Owens/IndyCar
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Very fittingly, the fastest car in Saturday’s lone practice session for ABC Supply 500 was the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet of Tony Kanaan.

The 44-year-old Brazilian showed plenty of speed in the afternoon’s two hour practice session at Pocono Raceway, turning a 216.354 mph lap around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

The session was the only on-track activity of the day for the NTT IndyCar Series, as heavy cloud cover and rain postponed the first practice session of the day and cancelled qualifying completely.

As the rain began to clear and track drying got underway, INDYCAR officials made the decision to combine the postponed one-hour morning session with the one-hour afternoon session, creating a single two-hour session for drivers to reacquaint themselves with the track known as “The Tricky Triangle”.

Scott Dixon finished the session second fastest with a 215.761 mph lap, while Santino Ferrcucci ended the session third-fastest with an 215.377 mph lap.

Alexander Rossi (215.373 mph) was fourth fastest in the session, followed by Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud (215.368 mph), who ended the session fifth-fastest despite missing nearly 45-minutes of track time early on due to a clutch issue.

Colton Herta was sixth-fastest at the completion of the session with a 215.338 mph lap, while Sebastian Bourdais (215.267 mph), Charlie Kimball (214.818 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (214.623 mph), and Graham Rahal (214.617 mph) rounded out the top ten.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden ended the session 17th-fastest with a 214.174 mph lap.

Live coverage of the ABC Supply 500 begins Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Click here for full practice results 

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