Monster Energy AMA Supercross Atlanta 1 Observations

Monster Energy AMA Supercross Atlanta 1 Observations

by April 11, 2021 0 comments

For the first time since 2000, Supercross was running in a non-stadium environment at a venue that is not Daytona International Speedway. Despite some morning rain and slick track early on, The Atlanta Motor Speedway infield course proved to be one of the best tracks of the entire season. With some less-than-ideal track conditions on a track that was producing near two-minute lap times, things seemed to open up for some new riders to catapult their way into the spotlight on the big stage of NBC. Some were able to successfully do so, while others ultimately failed in the end.

250 Class

One of the stories to this point in the East Regional was the subpar race day showings of the Star Yamaha rookies. Nate Thrasher made up for that on Saturday and then some, picking up his first career Main Event win over teammate and points leader Justin Cooper. What makes this more impressive for Thrasher is he had to make the main through the Last Chance Qualifier. Not only did he win the LCQ, but Thrasher also won the Main Event having less rest time than the majority of the 250 field before the race began. Despite all of that, Thrasher was still able to start up front and cruise to an impressive win.

Cooper meanwhile put on an unreal performance in his heat race. He wrecked in the beginning but ended up finishing second, running significantly faster than the rest of the field at the very end. Then backed that up with a runner-up result in the Main Event. His points lead over Kawasaki’s Cameron McAdoo doubled from two points to four. McAdoo meanwhile, rallied from a Main Event wreck to finish third.

Hunter Lawrence would end up in seventh after wrecking in the opening seconds of the Main Event. The Australian now sits 13 points back of Cooper. This all just races after being in the points lead back in Dallas. Garrett Marchbanks likely saw his championship hopes fade away, wrecking out of second in the final few minutes of the Main Event. The ClubMX Yamaha rider ended up in 14th after he took significant time to get his bike restarted.

450 Class

No. 1 Eli Tomac– Monster Energy Kawasaki (First Place)

Seeing as the track in Atlanta was in the same vein as Daytona, it was far from a surprise to see Tomac finish up at the front. From the gate drop of his heat race to the checkered flag of the Main Event, he looked dialed in. Tomac was able to bide his time and dissect the lines of riders in front of him and pick his spots. It for sure helped Tomac that he only had to worry about just a handful of riders, as opposed to about a dozen when he gets poor starts.

Although his pass for the win over Chase Sexton was not entirely his own doing, he was going to catch the Honda rookie regardless by the looks of it. Tomac was ultimately able to take what is now his 37th career 450 Main Event victory. It would not be a surprise to see Tomac find himself in this position again in the next two Atlanta rounds. But you never really know with Tomac.

No. 23 Chase Sexton– Honda HRC (Second Place)

Sexton was one of two riders on Saturday who were well in line to pick up their first career 450 win. Sexton inherited the lead from Aaron Plessinger with about five minutes remaining, after the latter wrecked out from the point. Unfortunately, he got held up by a lapped rider in Cade Clason coming to the white flag, surrendering the lead, and win to Tomac.

After he lost the lead, Sexton appeared to have something wrong with his bike. Luckily, Sexton lost no additional spots and got on the podium for the first time in just his seventh 450 start. Although he lost out on a chance at a win, a podium finish is still a confidence booster with just a handful of rounds remaining in Sexton’s maiden 450 Supercross voyage.

No. 2 Cooper Webb– Red Bull KTM (Third Place)

The best way to describe Webb’s performance on Saturday is to say it was just another day at the office. After qualifying outside the top 10 in the morning, he ended up with a solid fifth-place finish in his heat. Then Webb went to round out the 450 Podium later in the day. Webb did not seem to push it 100 percent on Saturday, however, he may be playing the numbers game now. His points gap over Roczen now means he does not have to go for broke every race now. Saturday was just what the doctor ordered for the series points leader with that in mind.

That is not taking anything away from Webb either. His apparent switch into conservation mode as the season ends is not a foreign concept. For example, his former training partner Jason Anderson did this in his 2018 championship run. He ended up winning four of the opening nine rounds and built up a nice points cushion. After that, he was not forcing the issue but still was finishing well. In both cases, it is/was the correct move to make.

No. 7 Aaron Plessinger– Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha (Fifth Place)

While it is still a matter of when not if Plessinger picks up his first career 450 win, he let a prime opportunity slip away on Saturday. After picking up the holeshot, Plessigner slowly began pulling away. With no pressure from behind, his first win felt all but certain. Unfortunately for Plessinger, he made a simple mental mistake in a corner and tipped the bike over.

This untimely error would see The Yamaha rider fall back near the end of the top 10. But Plessinger would rally to fifth with not much time to work with. While a disappointment of a result, getting a bevy of time out front will serve Plessinger well long term.

No. 94 Ken Roczen– Honda HRC (10th Place)

Roczen’s performance on Saturday looked especially brutal coming off the heels of the three rounds in Dallas. However. there appears to be a reason for it. In the opening seconds of the race, Roczen got tangled up with Justin Barcia, putting him almost dead last. This incident put him far behind the eight ball and had Roczen playing catch up the whole race. And due to that, a 10th was the best that the man second in points could muster. Now Roczen sits 22 points back of his title rival Webb. But also, third place Tomac sits just 14 points back of Roczen. Seeing how the last few rounds have gone, a third-place finish in the standings would be a colossal failure.

It will be a short turnaround for the riders now. The final Tuesday Night round of the season is just days away. The stakes are getting higher and higher, with just four rounds remaining.

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