Josh Hansen, two-time X Games gold medalist, needed every single day of the two-month layoff in the AMA Supercross Lites West series championship. The crushed bones in his left hand -- from a crash at Anaheim in February -- required pins and plates and the timing of the schedule couldn't have been more perfect.
With a three-point lead over teammate Broc Tickle, Hansen is now three races away from winning his first ever AMA championship, a goal he's been working on since he turned pro in 2001. The old Hansen may have given up after the crash at Anaheim II, but the new Hansen went out and won the race. Two weeks later in San Diego he broke his hand even worse but still salvaged points in the main event. Hansen returns to action this weekend in the Seattle Supercross.
ESPN.com: How is your hand?
Josh Hansen: It's coming along. It took a little longer than I expected. I ended up crushing some of the bones so that kind of made it way longer than we thought. I had to get plates, pins and bone grafts so that put me out a little longer. I feel comfortable on the bike, so that was surprising. I started riding this week and I think I'll have five or six days under my belt and then go racing.
In practice my foot slipped off going into the first whoop. The whoops were actually really big that round. It just dove my front end, put me over the bars face first. It really knocked me silly and I got a little concussion. I must have punched the ground or something.
I really finished it off though in the next race at San Diego. In practice it was muddy and the first time I went for the triple in the mud, my hand was super weak already, I ended up over-jumping and basically finished off my hand right there. I could barely ride. I ended up qualifying 14th and I didn't think I was going to be able to race that night. Mitch [Payton] sat me down and I had the championship on my mind. I made it up to sixth and I was pretty pleased with that at the end of the night with how much pain I was in. It put me back on points, that was the downfall, but I was pretty lucky to get sixth.
Where did the inspiration to fight through this come from?
I'm in a championship hunt. Not many people get put in this position and I have too much talent, I feel, to be wasted. I want to be a really good motocross rider and part of being that is winning a championship.
How much of this season has been surprise and how much has been expectation?
I really expected it to be like this going into the year. I felt like last year was a good year to start off. I won a race and I was up there with my speed. I felt like I made a lot of mistakes last year but I was always really fast. I knew that if I put it all together I'd be dialed for the following year.
Are you getting a lot more attention this year?
People are following my story more now. I think a lot of people thought I was done before. I just try not to think about it. I would like to be respected in what I do, and to be respected I have to take the right steps, so that's what I'm trying to do.
Is this your first time in the points lead?
This might be my first time in the points lead ... No, back in 2005 I led the points. I ended up tying Grant Langston for the championship back in 2005 [Hansen lost the tie-breaker]. My points lead was short lived and I fell back out.
What do you do differently in your second chance?
I just need to be me. I'm confident in myself and have nothing to worry about. It sounds crazy to say that but how else do I go into it? I will put my head down and take all the right steps and do everything I can to try to win. Whatever happens, happens.