After transferring from the LCQ, Nate Thrasher dominated the first race at Atlanta Motor Speedway to win his first career Monster Energy AMA Supercross 250 West. It was his sixth career Supercross start while riding the No. 91 Yamaha in the 250 West division.
“We got through that and ended up winning tonight,” said the Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing rookie after winning Atlanta 1. “It’s a surreal moment, been dreaming of this my whole life. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but it’ll probably be tomorrow. We’ll take it day by day, and just keep getting better and be ready for Tuesday and Saturday.”
The second round of qualifying sessions were canceled, so early eliminations and gate picks were chosen based on the first qualifying session. Thrasher started off strong by qualifying ninth overall, but shared his struggles from the heat races where he crashed and fell a few spots short of transferring into the main.
“We had a little trouble in the heat race with a couple crashes,” Thrasher shared. “But we had good speed in the heat races, so I felt it was going to be a good night. I just needed to get through the LCQ and make that work. We got through that and ended up winning tonight. We got off to a good start to the day. We just had to learn the track and adapt quickly.”
Aside from the crashes in the heat races, his strong performance all day overshadowed those minor slips. Thrasher kept his focus and his cool to keep the momentum needed to win the overall main event later in the day. He found what appeared to be one of the big advantages to the track, and used that to his advantage.
“We caught a big break there (with the LCQ), and we put in a lot of work and things started clicking. I felt like I was really good at the two big sets of whoops, so we just kept clicking away through the whoops. Everyone was trying to jump, and it just wasn’t working so skimming was the way for me. I skimmed the whole main, felt like it was the best way to get around the track.
“I think that is the key of Supercross, if you can hit the whoops better than everybody else, you’ve got a good chance to win.”
Thrasher said it best during his post-race interviews that he has had good rides that haven’t been reflected in his finishing results. Maintaining focus was key to not let those poor results overshadow what he was capable of.
I’ve been a little frustrated, dealing with some arm pump in the mains. I felt like I’ve had some good speed, running in the top-five. Just a little bit of arm pump in the motos have been my downfall, but we’ve been working really hard on the bike and we’ve got it really good right now. I feel like that’s one of the things that’s put me a little bit higher, and that three week break, we worked really hard trying to get a little bit better later in the motos.”
That three week break was a relief for some riders looking to turn around their season. For Thrasher, it simply meant getting to the drawing board once again, as well as leaning on the experience of teammates who have won multiple times. It’s not just about getting to the checkered flag first after 15 minutes, but how they’ve done it.
“It’s the good thing about these three races back to back. You don’t really get time to sink it in, but you just gotta put your head down and get back to work. A lot of my teammates have won a lot, like Justin (Cooper). I can watch what he does in qualifying. I’ve struggled with that this year, just trying to get good laps in. Craig and Nichols have won a lot of races this year, so they kinda know how to win, so everyone on the team knows how to win.
“You take every little piece and listen to it, and try to build from there.”
The field of rookies has already proven to be the potential of the next generation of Supercross professionals. Even though Thrasher has raced with some growing up, his focus continues to stay on his personal improvement and growth, both as a rider and a teammate.
“We’ve raced each other, but they’ve always been a class higher up than me. Stilez (Robertson) is pretty much my best friend, and we were out in Bakers together for a little bit, so we’re pretty close. He was always in the A class and I was in the B class last year. (Seth) Hammaker is a year or two older than me. You always want to do better than all the rookies; obviously, you want to be the best guy out there. I wasn’t really concerned at how they were doing.”
And that’s quite true. He knows he’s one of the new riders on the national level of dirt, but he’s looking to make his name known even more.
“This is my first year doing (Supercross). I feel like we’ve had better rides than we have finishes, so I feel like we’ve been building every week and just need to get better.”