Features 23 Jan 2024

Debrief: 2024 Supercross Rd3 San Diego

Main event winners Plessinger and Thrasher recall third round.

With Aaron Plessinger stealing the show in round three of the 2024 Monster Energy Supercross Championship, as well as Nate Thrasher stepping up in 250SX, it was a night to remember at Snapdragon Stadium. Both riders were available to the media following the main events for this Debrief feature.


Image: Supplied.

Aaron Plessinger, you’re the 68th 450 class winner in history. I think the question is obvious… After Detroit last year, the heartbreak, not just for you, but for all your fans, how does this feel, this moment, to get your first Supercross win in the 450 class?

Yeah, it’s great! It’s a nice rebound and, honestly, this is the gear from Detroit, so we got a rebound for that too! It feels really, really good. I guess it feels like it should and, yeah, got off to a good start and just rode a good race. Kenny [Roczen] was out front and then I just applied a little pressure and he ended up going down. Then Coop [Cooper Webb] was right there behind me, he was keeping me on my toes and, so was Eli [Tomac]. Yeah, it was a really good race. I just got a good lead and rode my own race and stayed up [laughs]. It seemed like we were lapping a lot of people, so it feels good and I’m ready to do it again next weekend.

Points leader as well. Are you going to feel the pressure for that or is that gonna motivate you to just do even better and extend that lead?

[Laughs] only time will tell, but I think I can handle it.

It feels like there’s been this massive momentum for you this year, do you feel that? And not just race results, but just your standing as a personality in this sport as Supercross grows and gets bigger…

Yeah, for sure. I don’t really know what it is about this year, but ever since I got back on the bike, you know, we made a few changes to it and I haven’t really made any changes since. It was just a good off season, really good, really solid, then to start out like I did, you know, 4-5-1, it’s great. I mean, it’s my best start ever and now I’ve got the red plate, so it’s awesome and yeah, man, the fans are… they’re crazy for being out here in the rain, but they stuck it out. I don’t know, it feels unreal. I feel like I’m ready to get back and go back to work and do it again next weekend.

Was it nerve-wracking having an Eli right on you? You lapped him and he stayed right there. Did you notice him?

Yeah, I mean, I thought it was Coop for the longest time, and I looked back, and it was number three. I felt a little bit better, but I also knew he was not gonna roll over and he would probably pass me back if I made a mistake, so he kind of kept me on my toes. And then, like Coop said, it was a really weird race. I almost ran into the back of a lot of people – it’s one-lined out there and, yeah, it was a crazy, weird race.

Were you having any flashbacks to last year?

I was making sure my toes were tucked, that’s for sure [laughs]! I wasn’t hanging them things off… Yeah, for sure. I was definitely having flashbacks and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t repeating ‘don’t crash’ in my head all the way around the track. Then the last lap and I almost did in the whoops! But, yeah, I mean, I was definitely nervous and it was definitely going through my head, but I just had to keep it on two wheels and I knew I’d be good.

You’ve been good at these when these tracks that deteriorate, right? You’re good in the mud. Now, you’ve had three rounds on a couple of different types of tracks – red plate for you – do you feel like that stigma sort of disappears and that, you know, ‘I’m good at everything, I can be just as good as every other guy even in the dry’… How does that go for you?

Yeah, I mean, I think I proved that last year at Detroit, up until we had that crash, but yeah, I think I’m good everywhere if I get a start. You know, it’s hard to come through 13 guys that can potentially win this thing. It’s such a stacked field this year. It’s crazy. It’s crazy to think about when you look down the line. It’s so gnarly, but yeah, I think I can be good anywhere.

When you pulled over on the track after the race, all your competitors, all your peers that you’ve been racing with for years stopped and genuinely congratulated you. The stadium went absolutely nuts. What did that feel like?

Man, it felt great. Like you said, just about everybody pulled over and congratulated me and it was just cool. It was really cool to see that. I mean, I guess that’s where being a nice guy pays off, being pretty much friends with everybody on the track is awesome in my eyes. I’ve grown up racing just about every one of these guys, whether they were older than me or younger than me, and it’s just cool to see them repay the favor. I’ve been stoked for almost every one of these guys up here, all the guys on the track, so for them to be that be stoked for me, it’s pretty cool, man.


Image: Octopi Media.

Nate, it’s been a while since you’ve been on the top step of the box. I know you’ve had some struggles… You started the season with a pretty rough A1 and last week as well. So to get this win, how are you feeling right now?

Yeah, it definitely feels good to be back up here after a long year, for sure. So, yeah, we’ll just keep this momentum going. I felt good at A1, just had an unfortunate crash, but yeah, we’re feeling good now and are ready to fight for some more wins.

Do you think you found something to get you up on the top step of the podium that you didn’t have in the first two rounds? If so, what was it?

I felt good the first two rounds, honestly. I felt good at A1, just didn’t get quite a good start, and in San Francisco I went to the LCQ and got a bad start and crashed in the wrong spot. But yeah, I felt good tonight, even in the heat race and going into the main event, I knew the speed was there. I didn’t get a good start, but I was just clicking off laps and felt good all night – just knew I had the speed to win.

You were one of the only guys going double-triple, going into the whoops, making a bunch of time there. How are you unlocking new lines and finding stuff like that in the race when the conditions are so gnarly like they are?

Yeah, it was kind of coming around throughout the night. The dirt was starting to grip back up and we were doing that in practice, and it wasn’t that hard, so I was just like, ‘if I get this double right and just pop the triple’, pretty simple. I was just trying to kind of like ride it like it was dry and, yeah, that was kind of my goal going into the main event. It was tougher to ride cautious than it was to go out there and ride all out, so that was my goal for the night in the main, just go out there and ride all out and then whatever happens, happens. It was good.

I think lap one you were sixth, if I’m not mistaken, and just even based off the last couple of weeks of struggling, were you ever doubting yourself?

Yeah, after the first lap, I didn’t get a good start and I kind of worked forward on the first lap to get up to P6. I got into sixth and I was like, ‘let’s just settle in, it’s a long race’. Once I started settling in, I had a good pace. I could kind of close in on anybody in front of me, but it was tough to pass out there. It was super one-lined, so you kind of just had to pick your moments to make a pass or you just kind of had to wait back and hopefully they made a mistake. So yeah, I felt like I was comfortable on the bike, wasn’t getting really any sketchiness out there anywhere, so I kind of would go in any line I wanted. That was a big confidence booster earlier in the main event and, yeah, I just started clicking off laps, and guys made mistakes and passed a couple of guys and then got behind Garrett [Marchbanks] there and I was just trying to put a little pressure and then unfortunately he got with that lapper. I just took advantage of it and tried to run away, but got into lappers myself, so it tightened back up. I just knew I had to click my laps off, I’ve been there before, and just had to do that to get the win.