After severely damaging his left arm last year in a massive crash at the 2017 Anaheim Two Supercross, Ken Roczen's return to racing was by far one of the biggest stories of the 2018 season. He started the year off strong, and consistent, even leading at times and showing that he still had the potential to win. Then, a freak accident occurred in San Diego when he came together with Cooper Webb and his right hand was sucked in between the swingarm and spinning rear wheel before being spit back out again. This split-second moment would lead to a broken metacarpal, and later it was revealed that dislocation and ligament damage also took place. Now, Roczen will have to wait at least eight weeks to return to racing and he has announced that he plans to return to the outdoor Nationals later in the year. We had the chance to catch up with Roczen while he was at the 2018 Tampa Supercross to further discuss the injury, as well as the crash itself.
What have these last two weeks been like?
So basically, after the crash, I had to wait for a few days because Dr. Viola was actually not here. He was with the alpine skiing team for Team USA. I had to wait until he got back to get surgery. I did a CT scan right before surgery just to see what exactly the damage was and then got surgery that Friday. I was dealing with some pretty big pain for the next couple of days and it was good to get out. I went to the Daytona 500 that Sunday. Obviously, I was still on some pain meds at that point, but they cut it off after that. It was fun to be over there and get out of the house. That was my goal. We never get to go to the Daytona 500 and I think it was pretty good to do something different and forget about the pain a little bit. Other than that, I had a quick trip to New York for Breitling Watches. We had an event up there that was some good fun. It was good to get a little feel for the red carpet, we don't really get to do that too often in our lives. It was awesome to be out there. Then we flew down here to Tampa and I'm here to hang out with fans, do some signing, and do some TV broadcasting tonight. It's been about two weeks since the crash and it's still a tough one to swallow, but I'm trying to hang in there and it looks like we're going to get ready for outdoors and be back in our natural habitat. I'm looking forward to it and I really want to get back on the bike. I think every racer can relate in that, when we have to go to the races and we're not racing, it's not necessarily the most fun. It's something we've got to do and I'm here to support my team and have a good time.
Looking at outdoors, the crash and the injury was a bummer, but if there is a bright side to things, it's that you still get to come back to racing this year.
Exactly, I mean the injury was pretty bad, but it looks like I'm going to be back in about eight weeks and that will give me some time to get ready for outdoors. Hopefully, I can turn this whole 2018 around and still make it a good year. Last year was pretty much thrown away and I think that's the upside is to turn it around and hopefully have a good outdoor season.
The news we received was that when you went in for surgery, there was more damage to the hand than what was initially thought.
Obviously, the x-ray machine that we have at the races is just something to see initially what's wrong, but I got the CT scan later on down the road and that really shows everything with the ligaments and all that. I had dislocation and a shattered second metacarpal, and the other metacarpals that were dislocated from the wrist and torn ligaments. We thought it was just the broken metacarpal at first and it would have been an easy procedure. They would have plated it really strong and I would have been back riding within a week, but unfortunately, it was a little bit more. I thought that anyways because I felt my arm and it was pretty painful, so I kind of thought it was more than just a metacarpal.
There has been a lot of speculation around the crash itself in which you injured your hand. From your perspective, walk us through that moment.
I went down on the start and it was [Eli] Tomac's foot or something that got stuck in my front wheel somewhere. It was between the forks and the front wheel. That ripped me off and I went down. My handlebars ended up pretty bent so I was thinking about going into the mechanic’s area, but at the same time I kind of got used to it and I was trying to be mentally strong and say, "I got this." I would have gotten used to it and it would have been fine. Then I got passed by Cooper [Webb] and I came back a little too hot in the next turn. We didn't make contact right there and then, but I opened the throttle too early and was too aggressive. As soon as my rear wheel hooked the rut, it was such a hard impact that my body got sacked and I whiskey throttled. It was never my intention to take anybody down like that, and obviously, I got the worst end of it. I was a little too aggressive, but that's racing and that's the mentality. There was no contact up until I lost control. That back wheel really hooked in the rut and it literally was like my hands got ripped off the bars, which caused me to drop the clutch and I whiskey throttled and that was the end of that. Then the arm got stuck between the swingarm and the rear wheel. Normally, a hand doesn't really fit in there, but since the wheel was turning it just had the force to go in and back out of there and that's really what got my hand.