THE AFTERMATH | 2021 ATLANTA SUPERCROSS 1 | LEADERS VS. LAPPERS (AGAIN)
Supercross took a three week, two weekend, break from racing and many of the riders and ourselves included took the time to get some very much needed R&R. However some took advantage of the opportunity and pulled the outdoors bikes out to get some testing in while a handful of others continued the relentless Supercross practice. Heading into the 13th round of the Supercross season, harsh weather was on the forecast, canceling the press day riding session and even showing some of its colors on the following race day. The tarps came off and qualifying commenced at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the majority of the racers got their qualifying times in before the rain started to make its second cameo near the end of 450 B. The rain poured on the NASCAR stadium and the second session of qualifying was canceled, meaning that the first round of qualifying times were the ones taking the riders to the Night show. If you had reserved any energy for the second qualifying session because you had a poor first one, you were out of luck.
When the gates dropped in the Heat races, it was pretty much nothing short of complete chaos. Riders dropping left and right and the weather flipping the coin for whether or not it’ll wreak havoc on the Supercross track, to say the night show was exciting would probably be an understatement. In MXA’s The Aftermath, we dive into what went down at the 13th round of the Monster Energy Supercross season as MXA’s Brian Converse was there to capture all the action. Scroll down below to see what happened at the first of three races held at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
A CONFUSING END TO THE 450 MAIN EVENT: LAP RIDERS PLAY FACTOR AGAIN
If you were yelling at the TV, you’re not alone.
Aaron Plessinger may have grabbed the lead of the 450 Main but after slipping the back end out over a small roller, it was Chase Sexton who grabbed possession of the lead, after making the pass on Cooper Webb for second place. Chase continued to lead the race right up to the second to last lap where he would get held up by Cade Clason for two corners. It is hard to tell if there were any blue flags being waved as it honestly looked like Cade Clason had no idea that the two race leaders were knocking on his door. After being held up by the lapped rider, Chase was forced to roll the massive double before the finish letting the 2020 champ make the pass and cross the line first. However, while Chase continued to roll the next double, Eli Tomac got on the gas to continue the race. Unfortunately for Chase, he had assumed he was on the final lap already when the two crossed the finish line and at the point of realization, it was too late for the 450 rookie. Eli carried his momentum all the way through the finish line and showing his strengths on the outdoors-inspired Supercross tracks.
Eli Tomac was close to Chase Sexton, but he certainly had some help from Cade Clason on that pass for the lead.
CHASE SEXTON’S FIRST PODIUM WAS ALMOST A WIN
Chase Sexton was very respectful on the podium. He didn’t bash the lapper, or even mention the words “blue flags” or “lap rider.” But he did say, “I wish I could re-do those two corners on the second to last lap.”
Chase Sexton has had a rough go at it this year. After leading his second 450 Supercross at Houston, he had the big crash that kept him off the bike until Daytona. Then, at his first race back, he smashed his face on the handlebars trying to make a double out of the wall jump (James Stewart style). He also took a hard hit to his face at Arlington when he crashed in the sand section. It’s awesome to see Chase Sexton rebound from the struggles he’s had to put together and almost flawless Main Event (besides getting caught behind Cade Clason) at Atlanta. Good news for Chase, he has another chance on Tuesday to try again.
Chase Sexton’s first 450SX podium came after he passed the 2019 Champion, Cooper Webb, and battled with the defending Champion, Eli Tomac.
NATE THRASHER: FIRST LCQ WIN, FIRST PODIUM, FIRST MAIN EVENT WIN
It was an awesome night of racing for one of Star Yamaha’s rookies.
Nate Thrasher would have less than desirable results in his Heat Race, sending the 91 to the Last Chance Qualifier, where he would make quick work and grab the win. Now that Nate had secured his spot in the Main Event, we certainly did not expect him to outclass the rest of the competition. But, as the gate dropped, Nate grabbed the holeshot and would pretty much race his own race, crossing the checkers first while the rest of the competitors were busy tipping over and making mistakes on the Georgia clay. Emotions were high as friends, family, and even fellow competitors ran over to Nate to congratulate him. Even Aaron Plessinger and Malcolm Stewart got off the starting line for the 450 Main Event to tell Nate how proud they were. The 250 West Coast class is the year of the rookies as each podium has had at least one rookie on it which makes it even more exciting as a new competitor can be seen on the podium each race.
SHORTER MAIN EVENTS
Well that went by fast, wait a minute.
Whether it was because of the track length and longer lap times or to make more room for their Monster Jam advert that occurred in the middle of the races, there is no doubt that that the shorter race times played a big role in the Main Events. In the 250 class, the riders only had 13 minutes to make it happen in the Main Event while the 450 class only had 18. Had the 450 class been the full 20, Eli’s pass on Chase may have been inevitable but because of the shorter race time, this may have been the cause of Chase assuming the race had finished when they crossed the finish line on the second to last lap.
WHERE ON EARTH WAS KEN ROCZEN
One of the riders in contention for the championship was nowhere to be found in the Main Event.
Heading into the 13th round of the season, it was Ken Roczen vs. Cooper Webb for the championship, or so it seemed. While Cooper Webb may have gotten a very good start and even lost a position to Chase Sexton and Eli Tomac in the Main Event, he was in a far better place than all the way back in the 20th place at the start of the race. Some of us were hoping that these would be the races we see Ken Roczen close the gap on his competitor and it’ll all come down to the wire at Salt Lake City where the two battle it out for the championship. Not where these would become Eli’s chance to catch up and close the gap on Ken Roczen. Ken Roczen got a poor start in the Main Event and would catch up to Marvin Musquin but would fail to get around the French rider, and eventually get stuck behind Joey Savatgy. We’re not sure where that fire went at the beginning of the season when we saw Ken as a dominant performer but we’re hoping he still has some left in him so the championship is a little more exciting.
Ken Roczen said via press release: “Atlanta 1 was a tough one. I really messed up on the start and then [Justin] Barcia crashed in front of me. I got caught up in his bike, so I had nowhere to go and ended up dead last. I wasn’t feeling myself all day and ultimately didn’t feel good. I finished in ninth place, which is the last thing we needed at the moment, but all I can do is go out there and try my best. I’m going to forget about this past weekend, move on, and see what we can do on Tuesday. I’m looking to bounce back, get a good start and hopefully finish somewhere on the podium so that we don’t get too far back in points. As of right now, I just keep losing too many points, which is not ideal, but I’m just going to keep my head high and do some work with the team, try some new settings and see what we can do.”
Ken Roczen’s 9th place in the Main Event caused him to lose 7-points to Cooper Webb. He now is 22-points back in the title hunt with four races left. Two more in Atlanta and then two in Salt Lake City.
CAMERON MCADOO’S OFF TRACK EXCURSIONS
See how Hunter is going forward but Cameron is turning, probably not a good sign.
We applaud Cameron’s ability to get up and keep racing but boy did he have some very close calls. In his Heat Race, Cameron McAdoo went over one of the bridges but ran out of traction going up one of the very narrow ruts, bucking the Idaho native to the side, and high side over the edge of the obstacle. Cameron got up and continued racing but his handlebars were pointing in every direction they shouldn’t be. Then in the Main Event, Cameron made another mistake pushing him to the edge of the track but the wet Georgia clay would prove to be very slippery on concrete as Cameron slid out and sparks flew from the metal grinding on asphalt. Even after all of this, Cameron got up and still got third, a very respectable ride from one who doesn’t give up.
DYLAN FERRANDIS’ DEAD LAST START TO FIFTH PLACE
Dylan Ferrandis’s hard work often goes unnoticed.
Dylan was up in the pack to the first turn but would slide the rear end out and get up in very last place. Just like we’ve seen in outdoors before, Dylan picked the bike up and magically found the fastest way around the track, making his way all the way up to fifth place, even passing Ken Roczen and the rest of the insanely fast 450 riders. We’re curious where Dylan may have finished had he had the full 20 minutes to catch up or where he may have finished had he gotten a good start.
ELI TOMAC’S PASS ON COOPER WEBB
Cooper didn’t lay over for Eli Tomac and let him by. But it did seem like he took the Ryan Dungey approach at Round 13 and settled for a third place finish once he realized he would need to go out of his comfort zone to keep up with Sexton and Tomac. Still, he extended his points lead on Ken Roczen.
Tomac vs. Webb off the wall jump.
HUNTER LAWRENCE’S DEAD LAST START TO SEVENTH
Hunter Lawrence ain’t a quitter either.
Similar to Dylan Ferrandis, the 250 Main Event was a tough one for Hunter Lawrence after sliding out the front end at the first turn of the race. Hunter picked his bike up after all of his competitors sped off and proceeded to play a game of catch up. Hunter made his way through the pack all the way back to seventh place. Sure it wasn’t an podium finish but still very respectable after finding himself on the ground at the beginning of the race and only having 13 minutes to make his way through the pack.
We spotted a wild Weston Peick out and about in the pits.
The Atlanta Motor Speedway crowd stuck it out in the rain to enjoy some exciting racing.
Todd Leduc nearly under rotating a Monster truck in between the LCQ’s and Main Events.
Nate might be too young to drink champagne but he is old enough to pour it all over his mechanic.
Nate seeking advice on how to work this dang thing from his teammate Justin Cooper.
Foam pad or graduation cap?
Ken Roczen doing some (on-ground) freestyle.
Slight suspicion that Broc Tickle may know he’s getting his photo taken.
A lot of finger-pointing going on at the races.
Even Tony Archer is doing it.
450 SX CLASS
Eli Tomac had a very good ride in the 450 Main, closing the gap on both Cooper Webb and Chase Sexton. After Chase was held up by a lapped rider, Eli made short work of his competitor, grabbing the lead and eventually the win. Eli now sits 14 points behind Ken Roczen for second place in the Championship.
Chase Sexton may not have gotten the finish he was aiming for but this was also his first ever podium in the 450 class, which is still a victory in itself. It is exciting to see him do this well on the outdoors-inspired Supercross track as hopefully, we’ll see two more rounds of this kind of action.
Cooper Webb has shown to be extremely strong when the number 2 gets a good start. In past races, he’s been very difficult to pass or catch up to when near the lead position. But, at Atlanta 1, those rules changed. It was interesting to see Cooper Webb get passed by two competitors and it shows that his greatest strengths lie on the classic Supercross track layouts. We’re looking forward to see if he improve his results on Tuesday or if the other riders like Eli Tomac, Chase Sexton, and even Aaron Plessinger will continue to be very strong on the infield of Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Jason Anderson worked his butt off to catch up to fourth place after getting an “ok” start, sitting back in tenth place. In qualifying, he was two seconds faster than Cooper Webb and these times showed in the Main Event as he made his way all the way up to fourth place by time he crossed the checkers.
Dylan put an insanely impressive charge in the 450 Main after starting in dead last and all making his way up to fifth place. We’re looking forward to see if he’ll get a good start on Tuesday and if he’ll be just as fast.
Cooper Webb. Not satisfied, but probably content with third.
Jade Dungey celebrates his rider, Chase Sexton’s second place finish.
Justin Barcia finished a quiet 10th place after crashing hard in the Heat race and getting stitches in his face.
Freddie Noren broke his finger at Arlington 2 and had bones sticking out of it. He still raced that night and he qualified for the Main Event on Saturday using a new finger brace that Chris Cole custom made for him.
Josh Hill is racing the three Atlanta Supercross rounds. It must’ve been tough to get comfortable racing Supercross again with only one practice to learn the track. He missed the Main Event at Atlanta 1 but we guess he’ll be battling for a spot in the Main on Tuesday.
Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac, the eventual podium finishers, go through the sloppy whoop section.
Aaron Plessinger was in a perfect position at the beginning of the 450 Main, grabbing the holeshot and leading the race. After sliding out, he lost a lot of his momentum that he was carrying and dropped all the way down to sixth place.
250 WEST SX CLASS
One of the coolest things about Nate Thrasher winning his first Main Event was the level of sportsmanship the other racers carried after his win. Many came over and congratulated the young racer for his victory after having an uphill battle throughout the day. Nate had a mistake in his Heat race and would be sent to the LCQ but easily take the victory. After getting a very bad gate pick, Nate still found the perfect line grabbing the holeshot and inevitably winning the Main Event. Not only was this Nate’s first Main Event win, but this was his first podium, ever.
Lots of different strategies for technique off the starting line.
Nate Thrasher (91) still had a dirty front number plate from the LCQ. He slid up the inside to grab the holeshot in the 250 Main.
Justin Cooper had a very scary get off in his Heat race, being sent flying into the ground after losing traction on the face of a jump, and coming up short on the landing. Justin quickly shook off the crash and got a second place win in the Main Event.
Cameron McAdoo paid for his entry fee, so he’s going to see all of the track. After having a few off-track excursions, Cameron still managed to grab a third place victory in the Main Event.
Justin Cooper congratulates his rookie teammate, Nate Thrasher, after the race.
Nate Thrasher’s consistency and speed was impressive. It’ll be exciting to see if he can replicate his performance on Tuesday and Saturday again.
Seth Hammaker had another incredible start in his Heat Race but would slide out due to the track having the consistency of an ice rink for dirt. After making it to the Main Event, Seth would have little better luck because the dirt had dried up and he went back and forth with his teammate Cameron McAdoo for third and fourth place, eventually finishing in fourth.
Thankfully for Kyle Peters, getting a good start and two competitors in front of him making mistakes would pay off in his favor. Kyle understands that doing well in a race, usually has to do with staying on two wheels and his consistent riding style would land him in fifth place.
WORDS FROM THE RIDERS:
Chase Sexton via Instagram: “I’d be lying if I said that one didn’t sting a bit. I put everything I had on the track which is something to be proud of just came up a bit short! First Supercross 450 podium going to keep chipping away at it”
Cooper Webb via Press Release: “I wasn’t pumped with that ride. I got a good start like I needed and was put in a really good situation. Plessinger was riding really well out front and he had that mistake so I got into the lead but I just didn’t execute. Guys got around me and pulled away, definitely not the best race for me but to able to leave on the podium is a huge relief, and to gain points is always good on your bad days.”
Jason Anderson via Press Release: “Atlanta one was a good day for the most part,” Anderson said. “I qualified P1 in practice and went into the heat race and got first. In the Main Event, I got a little tangled up in the first corner and ripped my shifter off but I was able to get into third, manage my race and still get fourth so it was pretty good.”
Dylan Ferrandis via Press Release: “For sure, it was a good ride, but I’m a little disappointed because crashing at the start is never good. I was all the way back in last and came back through. I didn’t rush but just gave everything I had until the last lap. I passed some really strong guys, so that was a good feeling. I was really tired and had a little bit of arm pump, but it was good. It’s always good to be back in the top five, and with that kind of riding, it’s also good for your confidence. We made some small changes on the bike, and the team decided to go in one direction, and it was really good. The bike was much better today than the previous race, so we made one step in a good direction. I’m really happy.”
Eli Tomac via our assumptions: “I had a good race” -probably
Justin Barcia via press release: “It was a tough day for sure. I felt good at the start of the heat race but unfortunately, I had a crash early on that roughed me up pretty good. Luckily, I was able to salvage a qualifying position and get my lip all stitched up before the main but I was definitely feeling the effects from the crash all night. We’ll try to use the next couple days to recover and get back at it on Tuesday.”
Aaron Plessinger via Press Release: “I felt good coming into this race and had a really good week of riding. Even though I felt great, I was just kind of pumped up a little bit all day. It was just something about this track – big jumps, two sets of whoops, I think I held my breath a lot. It was a good day overall, and we’ll take the positives. I got some really good starts and led the heat race for a long time. Before that, I had my best qualifying result in third. I was leading the main for half the race, and then I tossed it in one of the tighter sections. I just tightened up and couldn’t really get a flow back after that. We’re going to come back Tuesday with a vengeance.”
Pierce Brown via press release: “The day ended up decent for how it started. In the main, I was too far outside and didn’t get the start I needed but I pushed the whole time and ended up ninth. I almost had eighth but I gave it everything I had and I can go to bed tonight happy knowing that I left everything on the track. We’re definitely looking to improve for the next two Atlantas.”
Marvin Musquin via Press Release: “It’s good to be back racing but it was crazy to only get one practice considering you have to learn the track and go straight to qualifying. The laps were super long and the practice was super short so I only got one really good lap and then I made a mistake and it cost me big time. Racing was completely different – it was tough conditions but the track turned around and shaped up really well for the main and I ended up seventh. Considering the whole day, I’m not happy with the result but I’m trying to be more consistent and just rebuild from some of the problems I’ve run into this season.”
Nate Thrasher via Press Release: “It feels amazing. We put a lot of hard work in, and it’s paying off. At the beginning of the off-season, we weren’t even thinking that we were going to race supercross, but we kept chugging away, and I started feeling really good, so we were like, ‘we might as well go racing.’ I’ve been getting better every weekend. I knew that if I got a good start, I could run with these guys, and I finally got one tonight.
Justin Cooper via Press Release: “It was a bit of a tough day, going down in the heat race. I was pretty banged up from that, so I’m just happy we were able to regroup and get some points. Once the adrenaline wore off after that heat, it was pretty tough to get motivated to get back out there for the main. I’m feeling a little bit looser now, so I think by the time Tuesday comes around, we’ll be all set to go. All in all, it was a good day and we expanded our points lead, which is the main thing. I definitely like this venue so I’m looking forward to Tuesday.”
Cameron McAdoo via Instagram: “Put myself on the ground, and off the track far too many times. I am happy we were still able to be on the podium after what felt like a mess of a night. I am looking forward to another opportunity on Tuesday. Also huge thanks to the @pcraceteam crew for getting my bike back to perfect after it pretty much fell off a second story balcony in the heat race”
Seth Hammaker via Instagram: “P4 on the night in Atlanta 1. I was happy to get a heat race win in some sloppy conditions. Challenging track all day. Solid day overall and looking forward to being better for Atlanta 2 on Tuesday. Thanks to my team and everyone behind me”
Malcolm Stewart via press release: “The weekend wasn’t that bad. We were riding really well. It was just a long day, sitting around and not really riding that much because of the rain. We had a really good Main Event going, but I had really bad arm pump and hit a wall. It was kind of devastating because we were fifth and then went all the way back to 11th. It’s a bummer, but part of racing, you’re not going to feel great every race. The only thing that we can do from here is build on it. We had a really good talk with the team and we have to look at the positives. We were riding so great except for the last few laps, so that’s a good starting point. I think we had the potential to fight for a podium if we had a better start.”
Kyle Peters via our assumptions: “I rode good, the track was little wet though”
Stilez Robertson via press release: “The day started off pretty good with qualifying and the heat race got off to a pretty good start but then I ended up going down in the mud,” Robertson said. “With 14th gate pick, I messed my start up in the main and in the second turn I ran into someone and went down. I think I started 18th and finished 11th, which isn’t great by me but we’ve got another one on Tuesday and I can try and redeem myself.”Jalek Swoll via press release: “It was survival out there today with the muddy and tough conditions,” Swoll said. “The heat race was going decent but then I went down and it left me with a not-so-great gate pick for the Main Event and I got pinched off in the start. We’ll be back for the next Atlanta round and try to land on the box.”