Features 24 Jan 2024

Quotebook: 2024 Supercross Rd3 San Diego

Assorted racer comments following this year's third round.

Three rounds into Monster Energy Supercross 2024 and Aaron Plessinger is now a premier class winner to take over the red plates, Nate Thrasher has rebounded with his first win of the year and the underlying storylines are just as intriguing. Quotebook features compiled comments from San Diego on the weekend.


Image: Octopi Media.

Chase Sexton (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – Eighth:
Round three was another mud race and hopefully the last one of the year! For me, it just wasn’t a great night from the get-go, I struggled in the Heat Race, and then in the Main I actually felt like I was riding pretty good, although just was a long ways back. I did the best damage control that I could do and that got me eighth place. We’ll go back to work this week and come out swinging for A2.

Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – First:
Man, San Diego! It was a really good race, managed to get into the lead around the midway point, and just rode clean laps, stayed up, and got the win! On top of that, we take the red plate and points lead into the next round, which is huge for me. We had a great off-season… The team and I worked super-hard and to start the season with 4-5-1 results is my best start ever! The fans were crazy sticking it out here in the rain, so I’m stoked to be able to deliver a result to them, and ready to do it again next weekend.

Justin Barcia (TLD Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing) – Third:
San Diego was a crazy day! We only had two practices, as the weather came in, so I qualified decent, but not where I wanted to be. Although, I kept a cool head and got through the heat race with a solid result. Main event, I knew it was going to be gnarly – the track broke down a lot! I got off to an okay start, found second behind Aaron [Plessinger], and then missed the triple one lap, which let Cooper [Webb] get by me. Came in with a lonely third place, but super-stoked after last week and knowing that my health is nearly back to 100 percent.

Jorge Prado (Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing) – 11th:
Today was another good experience. It was again not too easy after getting a bad start in the Main Event… I think the jump out of the gate was okay, but I got a lot of wheel spin, which sent me backward and meant I was one of the last to the first corner. My opening laps weren’t great, and then I got confused with the blue flags and let the riders who I was battling with by me, which was a pity. It is what it is, I can improve with my opening lap intensity, but I’m excited for three Main Events next weekend in the Triple Crown at A2 as I would like to at least be able to make one holeshot and enjoy that format of racing!

Malcolm Stewart (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) – 19th:
San Diego was another mud race. We qualified 10th in the dry, then got off to a great start in the Heat Race and finished with second, which pulled me out of a bit of a slump I felt I was in. Then in the Main Event, I spun off the gate – no big deal – and then I came together with another rider and went down in the first lane, which pretty much summed my race up. The bars were tweaked, so I visited the mechanic’s area, but again my speed was super-good. We’re off to a Triple Crown next weekend and my starts have been good, so I’m confident of a good night of racing in Anaheim to turn things around.

Christian Craig (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) – 20th:
The day started pretty good with qualifying in P11. I was riding good and felt really strong, but then the rain came down, unfortunately. Got off to a sweet start to the Heat and was running up front for a while, then made a couple of mistakes in the mud, which shifted me back to fifth. I got another good start in the Main, but just cross-rutted in the mud and another rider completely landed on me from behind. It’s racing, unfortunately, it took me a while to get going, took a trip to the pits, put my head down and did what I could. Another bad result, but we’ll put our heads down for A2.

Jett Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) – Fourth:
Coming into the day was a bit of a rough one with my hand and I was a little bummed with fourth, but what we had going today was definitely good. I feel good, and I’m excited to have a dry race again so I can show my actual speed.

Hunter Lawrence (Team Honda HRC) – Seventh:
We had a good learning curve. Unfortunately, our result didn’t really reflect the riding in the main event—I feel like we rode very well. A lot of positives and an improvement on last weekend, so we just have to keep on building. Our time is coming.

Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – Fifth:
I am pretty happy with my results this weekend considering the conditions. The track was awesome during practice and I felt great, and even when it started raining for qualifying I still felt comfortable on my KX450SR. The heat race went okay, and the main event I was really pumped about my performance in the mud compared to last week. Obviously weather conditions like this aren’t ideal, but I’m happy that we are learning how to maintain a solid place in these situations. Time to get ready to go back to Anaheim.

Adam Cianciarulo (Monster Energy Kawasaki) – 13th:
I felt really good and comfortable during practice and very happy with the changes we made on the KX450SR from last week. Then the rain came and I began to struggle. The heat race I fell over a few times. Obviously going to the LCQ is not something I’m proud of, but I was stoked to get some more track time and figure it out before the main. I tried my best to get through the pack, and I feel like I learned a lot and am ready to move forward the rest of the season.

Cooper Webb (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Second:
San Diego was an up-and-down day. The weather was a little bit wet for us again, and qualifying didn’t go great. In the heat race, I got a terrible start but actually rode really well. The main event overall was a good race. I got a pretty good start around fourth, made some good passes, and got into second. I was trailing AP, made a good charge, and got close there. It was kind of a weird ending, you know, with the lapper situation. It was definitely interesting, but we were all dealing with it. It sucks to be that close and not get our first win with the team, but AP is one of my good friends. So, as mad as I am right now, I am stoked for him. It’s good to get some points back and have some momentum rolling. I’m looking forward to Round 4 and hopefully get our first win of the year.

Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Ninth:
It was a tough weekend. I got tangled up with Craig down a rhythm section and that set me way back early in the race. I had a decent recovery, though, and I look forward to racing on a dry surface sooner rather than later.

Justin Cooper (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – 14th:
I had two pretty good starts tonight. In the heat race, I got bumped around in the first rhythm and ended up sixth. In the main event, we ripped a really good start and got the holeshot. I couldn’t be more happy about that. I’m just a little bit bummed we went down on lap two. I got a little bit cross-rutted and a little bit off balance and went into the hay-bales. So, that kind of did it for me. I was on the plywood, and because it was so early in the race, I went back to 20th. I think I was in a good spot to go with that lead pack. I’m not saying I would’ve beaten them, but I just wanted to be there in the fight, and that’s where I was. If we could’ve stayed up in that position, I think we could’ve gone away with those guys. We’ll move on to next weekend and not get too down about it and try to get another great start.

Ken Roczen (Progressive Ecstar Suzuki) – 12th:
Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be yet. Everything was going well until I got slightly off balance and my foot peg grabbed the rut and bucked me. My front end was so twisted I barely made it back to the mechanics’ area for a pit stop. Of course, I stalled it along the way again. I’m holding my head high as I am riding well, my starts are good, and I am really enjoying my Suzuki. Things like this are part of racing.

Shane McElrath (Twisted Tea Suzuki) – 16th:
This one was a lot tougher for me than last weekend. The conditions were very deceiving. It was honestly like riding on ice. I was sliding all over the place and struggling with traction. This mud was so sticky I felt like I couldn’t go in a straight line. I overcame what I could and I’m pretty excited about where I’m at; there are a lot of positives to take away from the night. Results-wise it was not super great but we’re working on that, and that’s going to come.

Kyle Chisholm (Twisted Tea Suzuki) – DNQ:
I like the mud, but just like last week I couldn’t get off the gate in the heat or the LCQ. I got up to sixth in the LCQ, and just missed the main. It’s definitely not where I want to be, but I’m taking the good, which is that I feel good on the bike and my Suzuki feels great. We’ll try again next week at Anaheim and get back up where I should be.

Derek Drake (BarX Suzuki) – DNQ:
I’m usually all for mud races but this one was tricky. I fell right after the first turn in the heat and had to go back to the truck to get ready for the LCQ. In the LCQ I had a decent start and made a couple of passes, but then I made a big mistake and jumped off the track, and that put the nail in it for the night. On to the next!


Image: Octopi Media.

Julien Beaumer (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) – 16th:
Finished up here in San Diego and I’m pretty bummed – just crashed too many times. I was riding really average at the start of the race and figured things out at the end, but I’d already lost too much time. We’ll regroup this week and come out swinging in Anaheim.

RJ Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing) – Sixth:
Just another mudder here in SD and another tough night. I got off to an awesome start and then led a lot of laps in the Main, but threw away a podium with two corners to go. Super-frustrating, but nothing I can do about it now. Time to go home, regroup, and we need a win next week in Anaheim.

Ryder DiFrancesco (TLD Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing) – Eighth:
Good weekend overall! I need to fix little mistakes that are keeping me from being upfront, but lots of positives to take away as we head into Anaheim again next weekend.

Jo Shimoda (Team Honda HRC) – Fourth:
I thought I was riding well all day despite the back end sliding a lot in the main event. That was disappointing, but my riding was good. I nearly made the podium, which is an improvement on last weekend. The pace and the riding have been good, and I still believe I can do it. I just want a normal weekend.

Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) – Fifth:
I feel okay about San Diego. We have shown we can do well in the mud, so I was prepared coming into this weekend for those conditions. To grab the holeshot and heat race win was really awesome, and gave me a ton of motivation coming into the 250SX main event. I put myself in a great position to be battling for the lead until my tip over. We learned a lot this weekend and I’m looking forward to going back to Anaheim this weekend.

Jordon Smith (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – Third:
The day started out really well. The track was a lot of fun, one of the more fun supercross tracks that I’ve ridden. I was fastest in free practice, and then in Qualifying 1, it started raining on the line. I got off to a good start and put in a really quick lap early. It was my first time ever qualifying first, so I was really pumped about that. I got a good start in the heat but made a little mistake, went off track, and ended up second. I was happy with that, to just get in the main in those conditions. I didn’t get off to the best start in the main, and then I had an off-track excursion and got passed by Nate and Garrett [Marchbanks]. I just kind of put my head down and tried to regroup and put in some good laps. It was really tough out there. The track was really rutted, really slick, and it was hard to hit your marks. It was great to get another podium and a good night for the championship. I’m looking forward to next weekend in Anaheim.

Nate Thrasher (Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing) – First:
It was a good night. I felt good in the heat race, but I was a little too timid there trying to put it in the main event. Once I got in the main, I got a terrible start, but I felt like my speed was good and I just started clicking off laps and ended up getting the win. I felt good tonight in the rain. Normally, I’m pretty good in the rain. I had a bad weekend last weekend, but it was a different race track. It feels great to get back on top. Let’s carry the momentum into next week.

Anthony Bourdon (BarX Suzuki) – 10th:
I didn’t have a very good feeling all day on this track, either in practice or in the night racing. I had good starts despite my poor grid position, and I’m happy to have gone straight through to the main once again. I’m most happy about scoring another top-ten finish. I’m sixth in the championship, only two points from the top five after three races. If someone had told me I would be in this position before Anaheim 2, I’d have signed up straight away. It’s been a positive start to the season!

Max Miller (BarX Suzuki) – DNQ:
I had great speed all day but had some bad luck with other racers that cost me a transfer spot. I got tangled up in the first turn of the LCQ then put together a good charge, but I just fell short of a transfer spot.