Garrett Marchbanks reflects on his Daytona Supercross win

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Last week before the rash of postponements and cancelations affected every facet of motorsports, NBC Sports caught up with Garrett Marchbanks to discuss his dramatic first victory in the Daytona Supercross race.

In racing, the thing that matters most is the last thing a racer does.

Win the last race before a break and he can stand tall for a couple of weeks. Win that last race of the season and he has bragging rights for the entire offseason.

“I just need to put my head down and ride every race like it was my last one,” Marchbanks told NBC Sports last week before the Covid-19 outbreak put the 2020 Supercross season on pause.

As it tuned out, his words were prophetic.

In his second professional season, Marchbanks had one podium finish in 13 races before Daytona. He wasn’t exactly on a lot of radar screens, but only one person has to believe in a rider’s ability to win – the rider himself.

“Before the heat race I felt good, and when I feel good it’s going to be a good night,” Marchbanks said. “I wasn’t really nervous that night, which was crazy because I’m usually a pretty nervous person on certain nights. I haven’t felt like that since I was an amateur rider two years ago.”

Despite having only one podium, Marchbanks has been getting close.

In the 250 East opener at Tampa, he finished fourth, only his third career top five. He added another the next week in the Triple Crown race in Arlington, Texas. The following week, he was seventh in Atlanta.

Before Daytona, Garrett Marchbanks tested his Supercross bike outdoors and in sand. Feld Entertainment Inc.

Most riders get their start on outdoor tracks. Marchbanks was no exception. And that familiarity proved to be important.

With its long straights, the course at Daytona is a hybrid. It is a transitional race that allows riders to bridge the gap between their amateur days and their profession.

“The week going into Daytona we ran some outdoors, some sand tracks on my SX bike, and I was feeling really good,” Marchbanks said. “We went into the day, I was around seventh my first practice. My first qualification, I qualified fifth. In the second qualification, I felt really good. My time wasn’t there with the top two guys, but personally I felt really comfortable.

“When I lined up on the gate for that heat race, something just clicked. When I was behind (Jeremy) Martin it was just natural to me. I got to the lead and after that I didn’t want to be that midpack guy anymore. I wanted to win really bad. Then, getting the holeshot in the Main event was awesome. Leading every lap. It was the best feeling ever.”

Notably, Marchbanks’ first podium came in another transitional race. Last year he finished second to Adam Cianciarulo on a sloppy, heavy track. A downpour leveled the playing field among the riders and gave Marchbanks an early taste of success in his fifth 250 start.

“Last year as a rookie I wasn’t very experienced with Supercross,” Marchbanks said. “I’ve always been a good outdoor rider, so the mud definitely was on my side. This year I have a way more experience in Supercross. Daytona was a little more outdoorsy track of course, but there were some difficult sections. My outdoor riding played into it.”

At the time of the coronavirus hold, Marchbanks is fourth in the standings, a point behind RJ Hampshire and nine points behind second-ranked Shane McElrath.

Marchbanks was 10th last year in the 250 West division as a rookie. Jalek Swoll currently holds that position, 37 points in arrears, so Marchbanks is headed toward a career high. No matter what, he has earned that elusive first win, and he has a while to relish it.

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Malcolm Stewart sidelined from Supercross by knee surgery for ‘extended duration’

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The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.

“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.

“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”

Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.

He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.

The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.

“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.

“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”

Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.

A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.