HAMPTON, Ga. – Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac used speed and patience to pull off a dramatic win in the inaugural Monster Energy AMA Supercross event at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
In a heartbreaking loss, Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton lead for ore than four laps before a run-in with a lapped rider cost him the lead with the white flag in sight. Series points leader Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb ran in second early in the race but had to settle for a third place finish when the checkered flag came out.
Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted the Western Regional 250SX Class for the first time in 36 250SX regional events in Atlanta, and rookie Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Nate Thrasher dominated the field during round six of that regional championship’s nine-round series.
Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger grabbed the holeshot and instantly gapped the field. Rains mid-day meant the riders only had one 10-minute session on the track during qualifying before opening ceremonies, but by the main event the skies were clear and the red Georgia clay was in good, but rutted, condition. Plessinger looked destined to grab his first 450SX class win as he stretched out more than a five second lead over second place Cooper Webb. Chase Sexton hovered just out of range of a pass on Webb while Tomac was just as close behind Sexton.
Ten minutes into the abbreviated 18-minute plus one lap event Sexton flew past Webb in the whoops and set after Plessinger. Less than one minute later, Plessinger fell awkwardly due to a tiny front end washout. Sexton inherited the lead as Tomac applied the pressure to Webb and got by with just more than six minutes left on the race clock.
From there the Kawasaki rider reeled Sexton in, getting the gap to under one second when a lapped rider threw off Sexton’s jump rhythm and Tomac flew into the lead. Sexton didn’t battle back, and Tomac brought it home for a win on the track that many saw as very similar to the Daytona track and therefore favoring Tomac’s style.
Coming so close to his first win, Sexton still earned his first 450SX Class podium finish. Surely more disappointed was his teammate, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen, who got off to a bad start outside the top fifteen and was never able to make it further forward than ninth. Eventually finishing in that spot, the Honda rider lost seven championship points on Webb but still remains second in the standings.
The Western Regional 250SX class delivered its fourth first-time winner this year with Thrasher’s dominating ride. Thrasher nearly grabbed the holeshot even with a poor gate pick due to a trip through the Last Chance Qualifier.
Once into the early lead the Yamaha rider looked picture perfect on the slick red dirt. Thrasher held on without any major mistakes through the 13-minute plus one lap event; a two minute abbreviation due to a schedule affected by the mid-day rain and mud.
Thrasher’s teammate, Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Justin Cooper, earned a second place finish to stretch his points lead to four over third-place finisher Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Cameron McAdoo. Cooper was sore from a heat race crash and benefited from a late-race crash from ClubMX / IAMACOMBACK / Yamaha’s Garrett Marchbanks.
The podium finish gave Cooper two more points in the championship battle over McAdoo, who had a wild main event. After grabbing the holeshot, McAdoo got shuffled back. The Kawasaki rider moved aggressively forward but a crash in the whoops three and a half minutes into the race ended his early charge to get back into the lead. McAdoo recovered to round out the podium.