Atlanta Motor Speedway played host to the 14th round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross over the weekend for what proved to be a wild night of racing. From the massive track to torrential rain, to the East/West Showdown, and everything in between, Atlanta had it all. As such, we fired off questions to long time professional rider Jason Thomas to hear his thoughts on some big talking points from Atlanta.
Two huge jumps in the original Atlanta track build were changed after press day. What's your take on those big jumps?
I like the initiative to challenge the best supercross riders in the world. Did they push the envelope too far and need to bring it back a bit? Maybe so. But, to find that limit is important. Modern race bikes are so capable. Building tracks the same way we did in 2000 doesn’t really make sense. It’s always going to be a moving target as to where the perfect level of difficulty lies but I am very much in favor of finding it.
Mud race or not a mud race? Obviously, the track was surprisingly good considering how much rain came down Saturday morning. But did the weather still have an impact?
It had an impact, but this was certainly not a mud race. Credit to Dirt Wurx for performing yet another miracle after torrential rains Saturday morning. We were also very fortunate with the timing of the rain. Had that storm come through at noon instead of 6am, we would have been needed jet skis versus factory 450’s. By late afternoon, the dirt was perfect in many spots and a little slippery in the worst effected areas. The most treacherous aspect was when riders got out of the main line and had to discover how slippery the clay could be (Jett Lawrence’s crash was a great example of this).
What do you think of the speedway track and event? Would you like to see more of these?
I much prefer the dome/stadium setting. First, we never have to worry about an errant storm ruining the day when in a dome (fair point that it could rain at any outdoor stadium). Second, the speedways are a downgrade in terms of opening ceremonies festivity. Third, these speedway tracks aren’t exactly in the spirit of supercross when talking traditional layout.
I don’t have a huge issue with having Daytona and Atlanta but if we start expanding to 4 or 5 of these, I would consider that a step backwards in the series’ evolution.
Have we been sleeping on the skills of Hunter Lawrence?
Hunter is solid. His style isn’t flashy, and he isn’t as explosive as his brother but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. The trouble is that both Jett and Christian have next-level type sprint speed that grabs the headlines. Meanwhile, Hunter quietly goes about his business and racks up results. He may never get the publicity that other riders do with the same results or even better but that’s just the nature of things. Bonus checks clear even if people are sleeping on you.
What does Chase Sexton need to do to turn this speed into wins?
Stop crashing! Seriously, the only problem in his entire game is being mistake prone. Speed? Check. Starts? Check. Confidence? Check. Equipment? Check. I don’t know how to fix this problem, but I can definitely identify it as the main problem. He is ready to win races and titles if he stays upright.
Were you surprised at Austin Forkner's feistiness in his first race back?
I was! I was very impressed with his sprint speed throughout the day. He really didn’t look to have missed a beat. The seventh-place finish wasn’t ideal, but he showed some positive signs in his first race back. The most important aspect here is to build off of that and improve at Foxboro. Keep that fire and then finish strong in the main event. He is working on a new contract and showing winning potential is a huge factor for his salary, term of the deal, and also 450 implications.