2021 Monster Energy AMA Supercross
Round 14 – Atlanta Motor Speedway Atlanta, GA
Report by Trevor Hedge – Images by Jeff Kardas
Ken Roczen scored the hole-shot alongside his Honda team-mate Chase Sexton but Cooper Webb soon lobbed a KTM into the centre of that Honda party.Webb then tried his best to sneak past Roczen early on before the German could get wound up and pull away after showing great speed on this new lay-out throughout the night. Webb couldn’t quite get there though and Roczen pulled the pin.
Further back Eli Tomac and Jason Anderson got tangled up and the pair were ninth and seventh respectively after being split by Dylan Ferrandis. Marvin Musquin was fourth, Justin Barcia fifth.
Sexton got the better of Webb to make it a Honda 1-2 again but with only three-minutes down Roczen already had almost five-seconds on his pursuers.
Barcia then pushed Webb further back to fourth place, the championship leader just didn’t have the pace through the whoop sections and was paying the price. Jason Anderson was the next one to pass Webb, relegating the KTM man further back to fifth place, just ahead of his team-mate Marvin Musquin.
Eli Tomac was building speed and by half-race distance he was on the tail of the two KTM men. He sneaked past Musquin first but then Webb responded to the challenge by upping his pace and reeling in fourth placed Barcia while holding Tomac at bay.
Barcia is always one of the hardest riders to pass in the world and he was clearly frustrating Webb as the laps wore on. That frustration boiled over though when Webb got hung up on a jump avoiding the back of Barcia’s GasGas and briefly hit the deck. That was enough though to allow Tomac to sweep through and push the championship leader back to sixth place.
As they started the final lap Roczen had 7.7-seconds over Sexton and a further five-seconds on third placed Jason Anderson.That was the podium order at the flag while Barcia scored fourth place, Tomac fifth and Webb sixth.
That result trims Webb’s championship lead to 13-points over Roczen with three round remaining. Eli Tomac is a further 22-points behind in third place with a 32-point buffer over fourth placed Barcia.
450 Video Highlights
Ken Roczen – P1
“I changed my mindset big time for tonight’s race. It started already in free practice, with setting the fastest lap time by just being aggressive. At the same time, we did some changes to the bike that helped out, but of course it’s always unproven until you start racing it. We did a bunch of changes throughout the entire day, and it really seemed to pay off. I was pumped with how I was riding, but I knew the main event was going to be a long one, just because of how tough and long the track was. I’m so pumped for Honda to have pulled off a first and second; it was a huge night for us, also in the points chase, and I hope we can keep this up and come back and battle again for Atlanta 3.”
Chase Sexton – P2
“It was a good night–obviously, ending up on the podium is always good. I felt good all day; the faster track really seems to be suiting me, just having more room overall, to move around a little bit and have different options. I really liked the track and obviously it’s paying off with getting on the podium twice here. Second-place finishes are going to get old really fast–I just want more–but it’s cool to see Honda 1-2 on the podium. I’m looking forward to building on this Saturday, and we’ll try and get a win.”
Jason Anderson – P3
“Today was pretty stressful. It started out amazing and I felt like everything was going smooth, and then I stalled it on the gate for the start but I was able to come back and ride good. I was lacking a little bit of energy at the end but I feel like my speed is good and my riding is really well so I’m excited.”
Justin Barcia – P4
“It was a tough day to start with, I was pretty banged up from my crash at the last race so I was just really glad to be racing. I was running third in the Main Event and shuffled back to fourth, I got pretty tight, but all-in-all it was a good recovery for not knowing if I was going to race this one. It felt good to finish strong but I definitely want to be on the podium and go for the win this Saturday.”
Eli Tomac – P5
“I got a decent start aboard my KX450 during the main event but had to check up before a few turns because of all the chaos going on around me. I tried avoiding as many riders as possible, and that forced me to take a different line in the whoops section, which slowed me down even more and allowed others to get around. I worked hard to get into fifth place, but the track was so demanding that by then, it was already too late, and I ran out of time. It’s not the result I was expecting, but we managed a top-5 finish, so we’ll take it and now shift our focus on how we can improve for Saturday.”
Cooper Webb – P6
“It was a bit of a rough day for us. In the Main Event, I got a great start and put myself where I needed to be but I didn’t execute. I finally turned it around, started riding well and hitting my marks a bit and then I caught Barcia and was trying to make a pass. We had some close calls and then over the wall, I hit his back tire and fell. It’s a bummer but we’ll come back for Atlanta 3 and work with the team and myself to hopefully be in the winner’s circle.”
Marvin Musquin – P7
“I had a really good start in the Main Event but unfortunately I was missing a little bit of intensity and I ended up getting passed by a couple guys, which killed my momentum. It was a tough race physically so I was trying to be consistent and just keep pushing until the checkered flag.”
Aaron Plessinger – P8
“I wish it would’ve gone a little better. I came from the back in my heat race and ended up fifth. In the Main Event, I had an okay start going, then Malcolm crashed off the first double, and his bike chased me off the track. I had to work my way back through to eighth. I was happy with my riding but definitely not happy with my starts. The track was pretty good. It wasn’t too slick, and the dirt was pretty grippy overall. It got rough and rutted, and the whoops broke down quite a lot, but I was hitting them good and was just moving along. I’m not happy with the result. So we’ll come back Saturday and get out front as I did at the last one and hopefully get up on the box.”
Dean Wilson – P9
“I was riding really good today, definitely a step up from the last round. I was happy with second in the heat race and in the Main Event, I got a pretty good start and was really in the mix of the battle until about halfway and unfortunately just struggled to the end. If we can figure out the second half and just get in the top five, I’d be happy with that.”
Nate Thrasher did it again out of the gates with a brilliant start but team-mate Justin Cooper soon swept past him to make it a Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha 1-2 as Garrett Marchbanks and Hunter Lawrence gave chase.
Cameron McAdoo was running fifth and trying to chase down Hunter Lawrence before the Kawasaki man had a sickening crash. Landing on the front wheel and then getting pitched straight into the face of the jump with his bike then smacking him hard for good measure over-end after his boot got caught up on his handlebars. It was ugly, real ugly. McAdoo was only four-points behind championship leader Justin Cooper heading into this bout but his championship chase looked now to be effectively over.
Organisers elected to continue the race for quite a while before putting out the red flag so McAdoo could be helped from the top of the tabletop. Riders returned to the pits and prepared for another race start.
But wait… McAdoo was back on the start-line! His Kawasaki was missing its front plate but he was back on the gates! Unbelievable! His championship chase was not over after all….
Not only did McAdoo line up but he got a brilliant start and almost took the hole-shot! It was Nate Thrasher again though with the best clutch hand and inside line to lead the field around turn one from McAdoo, Marchbanks and Cooper.
It didn’t take long for Cooper to work his way up to the front once again and started to pull away from Thrasher, Marchbanks and McAdoo while Schock was in fifth and Lawrence sixth.
Hunter Lawrence then lost a few places and was shuffled back to ninth before reclaiming those positions over the following couple of laps.
McAdoo got an amazing run through the sand whoops to relegate Marchbanks to fourth place then reeled in Thrasher and started to challenge for second place. Meanwhile Cooper had escaped up front and with ten-minutes left on the shot clock enjoyed a lead of three-seconds.
Thrasher had a little more speed through the faster turns than McAdoo but through the whoops McAdoo was on a different planet and breezed past the Yamaha to take second place with nine-minutes remaining. Cooper’s lead was over four-seconds, surely McAdoo could become miracle man and chase down the championship leader and steal the win?
Cooper continued to set the pace up front though and McAdoo could not claw back any ground on the #32 Yamaha.
Hunter Lawrence though started to come into his own as the race progressed and stepped up another lever in the second half of the race and started reeling off fast laps to pass Marchbanks and then started to close on Thrasher to challenge for a podium place.
Lawrence blew past Thrasher in the sand section to move up into that third place with just under two-minutes left on the clock. Next target McAdoo and the gap was only just over a second…. Lawrence was quickly on the tail of the #31 Kawasaki and made a brilliant move to take that second place just as the clock ran out to signal two laps to go.
Cooper backed it off on the final lap but still took victory by over seven-seconds.
Hunter Lawrence a come from behind second but the big headline of the night must go to McAdoo for getting back up for a podium after looking out for the count earlier on in the night.
Cooper now leads McAdoo by nine-points with Lawrence a further seven-points behind with two rounds to run for the 250 West Championship. The 23-year-old celebrated his third win of the season with a burnout for the Atlanta crowd.
While there are 17 rounds in this Monster Energy Supercross Championship, the 250 category is split into two separate championships, 250 East and 250 West. This was the seventh round of what will be a nine-round 250 West Championship.
250 Video Highlights
Justin Cooper – P1
“It was a good day starting with being fastest in every practice again. I got a pretty bad start in the heat race and got shuffled back to fifth, but I came back and made a last-lap pass on Hunter (Lawrence). We had a pretty good battle there. The Main Event got red-flagged a couple of laps in, which made it pretty tough. It was hot out there. Honestly, sitting on the line before the restart, I was like, ‘wow!’ I had to take my goggles off because I was sweating, and then we had to do the whole 15 minutes again. It was really physically demanding tonight, especially with not having a lot of rest after last Saturday’s race. It was good to get out of this one with a win and extend our points lead. We’ll recover for Saturday and try to do the same thing again.”
Hunter Lawrence – P2
“It was a tough day, actually. We were struggling with bike setup all day, and after the heat race the team made a really good decision. We made a shock change for the main, and we had to test it on the site lap, when I had to push to get a feel and make sure we didn’t have to change any clickers; I was happy with how the bike felt. In the first part of the race, before it got red-flagged, I was feeling really good but then crashed in the whoops. Thankfully, that race got scrapped and we were able to start again. I didn’t get the best start, but we just kept fighting the whole way. I had a really good ride and am pretty content with that for where we were during the day and for the start I had.”
Cameron McAdoo – P3
“That crash was a scary moment for me. I struggled to move my leg for a moment and didn’t expect the medical staff to continue letting me ride, but I wasn’t going to give up. We’re in the middle of a heated battle for the 250SX Western Regional Championship, and I’m going to give it my all until the very last lap. Once I got the okay from the Alpinestars medical team, I refocused on the goal at hand and tried to salvage as many championship points as possible. I’m happy with the third tonight, especially considering how hard I crashed, but now it’s time to rest up and recover as much as possible before we run again on Saturday.”
Nate Thrasher – P4
“It was a good weekend, I felt good all night and we put in solid laps in the main. I was sitting in second pretty comfortably, but it ended up being red-flagged, which I’m pretty bummed out about. I ended up pulling a good start again and was sitting third for most of the race; we were fighting for it until the end, but ran out of time and finished fourth. We wanted another podium, but I can’t be mad about that, we’ll get them Saturday.”
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