Beta raced four riders who combined for zero race experience, yet still put themselves in a position to win in the closing laps. It wasn’t until senior Chris Craig lost control of his bike exiting turn 4, triggering the crash that ultimately helped Black Key Bulls win, that they were out of contention.
Craig said he didn’t even think his team would be in that position. He was confident in Beta’s speed, but in a rebuilding year nothing is ever certain. There’s much less uncertainty this year.
With all four riders returning, Beta’s expectation is to once again be in contention to win at the end.
Only this time, without the crash.
“Not that I’m necessarily expecting to win this year, but I feel like we’re much more prepared to be in that position this year as a team,” Craig said. “When we did well last spring, we weren’t expecting it. This year we knew we would be strong, we just weren’t really sure how strong we’d be.”
As last year’s race events unfolded, Beta wasn’t experiencing any major falloffs from the previous year.
The 2013 champions were quick to rebuild, even with a new set of riders.
Now in year two together, that success has carried over. Beta placed near the top in all three Spring Series events.
Their strength was most dominant in Miss-N-Outs, where three riders made it into the semifinals and two made the finals.
“The depth of this team is incredible,” junior Beta rider Kyle Knight said. “We’ve been training to win this race. This year we’ve got that much more experience, and we’re that much more ?confident.”
Although he’s quick to pass off credit to teammates, Craig’s Spring Series results have helped him emerge as one of the top riders in the field over the past two ?seasons.
He won ITTs and Miss-N-Outs in 2014. He followed that up by reclaiming a Miss-N-Outs title and just barely missing out on repeating in ITTs, ultimately finishing second to Cutters’ Nicholas Thiery.
Craig said he was hard on himself after crashing so late in last year’s race. But with the support of his teammates, he said he was already past the incident and training for the 2015 race by midsummer.
“I’ve seen the worst of Little Five,” Craig said. “It was a great learning experience for me just to realize how you can train your ass off, work really, really hard all year and anything can happen in the race. Nothing’s ever guaranteed.”
A poor qualifying run puts Beta back in 18th on the grid to begin this year’s race, but the team hasn’t expressed much concern about it.
Staying out of potential crashes early is typically key for teams like Beta that start in the middle of the pack. As long as they can avoid any potential carnage early, Beta says they’re confident they can slowly begin to work their way up the leaderboard. Once they get to the front, the race is on.
They’ve all been there before. They know what it’s like to be in contention. For Beta, it’s just a matter of ?finishing the deal.
“We’ve got it in our minds that we’re a championship team,” Knight said. “We all have one race under our belts now, so we’ve been able to analyze what we did good and what we did bad last year. We’ve learned from that and now we’re ?really excited for this race.”