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2022 Atlanta Supercross | Kickstart Recap & Gallery


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Atlanta has always been one of the more important rounds in the Monster Energy Supercross Championship, so the move from downtown’s Mercedes Benz Stadium to Hampton’s Atlanta Motor Speedway is something that Feld Entertainment is very determined to make successful. AMS is more accommodating, thanks to its spacious location/soil that’s dug up on-site/cost to rent, and the working groups all understand what it takes to host a race. All that might be why several major deals were in play in ATL, including a primetime slot on NBC, the 250 East-West Showdown, and the “This Race Saves Lives” promotion with St. Jude Children’s Hospital.


Dirt Wurx got pushback and praise for their efforts through the weekend. After the first version of the track drew plenty of criticism from riders (what else can you expect after being free reign by AMS and encouragement to go big by Feld?), they made the necessary changes to the 100-foot-plus triple, knocked down the double made from a shipping container, and then draped tarps over as much of the infield as they could to protect it from the rain.

Although the overnight storms turned the red clay into a slick mud, the amended practice schedule gave the track workers the time they needed to scrape and till, and it was in remarkable shape by the last laps of Timed Qualifying.

“They actually listened to us, so props to Dirt Wurx. The triple was just too big and not very forgiving. When you come into that with everyone, it’s gnarly. I think those big obstacles are cool, but for us, we’re humans and we want to stay safe, and we have enough risk as it is,” said Jason Anderson, one of the riders who was vocal for the track changes. “I really respect that they listened to us.”

“For the amount of rain we got, I thought this was going to be underwater and survival,” remarked Christian Craig. “But somehow, someway, it was a raceable track by the Main Event.”


Everyone expected a Lawrence-Craig match-up at the Showdown, but how many thought Hunter would be the one in it? This was a noteworthy win for the Team Honda HRC rider, as it’s the second in a row, the third of 2022, and the fourth in his SX career.

Friday’s case was all anyone wanted to talk about at the start of the weekend. Despite coming up very short, Lawrence said he walked away without any sort of injury or lingering worry, and that he’s not the one that asked for The Big Jump to get cut.

Slick conditions suit HL96 (cue the GP experience line), as he knows how to balance consistency over speed and doesn’t rush to make things happen. His best laps in the Showdown weren’t as fast as other in the results sheet, but the pace kept him out of trouble and put him over the line four seconds ahead of title rival Craig.

“When that gate drops, it just turns me on. I love it,” he boasted post-win. “I felt like garbage all day. I was cramping up, just didn’t feel good at all today. I think 24 seconds on the card is when I came around and started to feel better. I don’t know if adrenaline kicked in and did its thing, but I love to race. I’m a gamer.”

There are a few “what if” things that could have changed the overall view Lawrence’s season. If he’d maintained his podium streak at Anaheim Three, and not crashed out to finish 18th, he’d be down a handful of points in the standings, not 23. If he’d been more prepared and not a last-minute addition to the West Coast, he might have challenged Craig heads-up more early in the season.


We didn’t know what to expect of Christian Craig at the Showdown. When we talked in Seattle, the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider seemed excited about racing Jett, but by the time we got to Atlanta, his motivation was more on scoring points than it was going to bar-to-bar. “I have to put myself in a good spot and maximize those points or if Hunter’s out front, worry about that,” Craig told us on Friday. “We are looking at big picture, so I doubt you’re going to get the best Jett or Christian. But if it does play out where we start 1-2, you’ll see a battle.”

The second-fastest lap of the 250 West Region’s Timed Qualifying session and a dominant win in the Heat Race cemented Craig’s status as the top rider of the group. He worked through the pack after a modest start, reached second place, and put some distance between himself and others while pursuing leader Lawrence. That gap came in handy late in the race, as Craig tucked the front-end of the bike in a tricky right turn and went down, but was able to remount and finish without losing a position.

Craig’s runner-up result and Lawrence’s win keeps the point spread between the, at 23, enough to make CC feel comfortable but not enough to clinch. He’ll need to finish at least a few spots better than Lawrence if he wants to get the 1W in Denver.

As for CC’s future, here’s what he had to say about talk he’s going to a 450 Class team full-time in 2023: “I’ve always said that I want to be on a 450 next year and it’s going to happen. I’m stoked on the future, but the first thing is to wrap up this title, to win this, and then we move on. There’s a lot of good things in my future, but we have a lot of work left to do before that happens. It’s been a long time coming, a lot of ups and downs. To have the year I am right now and then the future, it looks good and I’m excited.”


Jett Lawrence wasn’t buying into any of the hype going into the weekend. When asked about the chance to wrap up the East Region title, the Team Honda HRC rider said, “If I could wrap it up, that’s awesome, but if not, it is what it is and at least I’ll keep racing and try to get more wins. I don’t think it’s going to change much if I win it this weekend. If I win, sick, but if I don’t, it won’t change my drive.” When prompted about the potential to battle with Craig, the teenager quipped, “We haven’t spoken about it at all. It’s just a race, so I’m going to go out there and see where I finish. I’m just going out there to ride my dirt bike.”

Lawrence’s chances at the win were cut off when he went down in the first turn of the Heat Race and at the end of the whoops in the Showdown, two incidents that can be attributed to skill conditions and eagerness. Fortunately, they were minor crashes, and the rider was able to get back up, fight through the pack, and finish near the front both times.

“I definitely didn’t make it easy on myself, even in that last one,” he told us post-race. “I made it easy with getting a good start, but a silly mistake of rushing too early and leaning forward. It sucks, but it is what it is. I felt like I rode the best I have all year, put on a really good charge, and was able to get a third. My goal this year is to not be off the podium, and it was a close one, but we’ll take that.”

With a 47-point lead going into Foxboro, it’s almost certain that Lawrence locks up the 1E plate this weekend.


Nate Thrasher is something at the speedway. The Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider was the fastest of the West Region Timed Qualifying session, a first for him in 2022, and he backed that up with a fifth-place finish in the Showdown. Thrasher has been off the radar this season and that’s partly due to a lengthy recovery from last year’s shoulder injury, but he’s gotten better with time and could be one to watch during the summer.


Austin Forkner told us he wanted to come back in STL, but Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki told him to wait for one more week and get ready for ATL. This proved to be a smart call. Although a terrible start in the 250 East Region Heat Race got Forkner caught up in two incidents with Jett Lawrence and put him in 21st, he rallied through the five-lap sprint, passed twenty riders, and got the win with a last-lap move on RJ Hampshire. A seventh-place finish in the Showdown was a good way to end day.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Forkner in 2023. Yes, he’s at the end of his current Kawasaki contract and he hasn’t done enough to merit the 450 deal that was expected in the re-up. Will his re-found speed earn an extension at PC, does Kawasaki pull him up anyways, or will another OEM lure him away from Team Green?


Big, slick, creative, and flowing. Yeah, Atlanta was Jason Anderson’s type of track. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider might not have been on everyone’s win list after he ducked out of Friday’s media session after just a few laps, but he was cool with changes Dirt Wurx made and was one of Saturday’s standouts.

A handful of guys went for a tricky three-four combination during the weekend, but after rough outcomes and hard landings for most, Anderson became the only rider to do it consistently on race day. This was one of the keys to his win, as he was able to grease the section repeatedly and late into the 15-lap 450 Main Event.

Watching El Hombre on hard pack is like seeing The Bullet on sand: awesome. The Georgia clay was deceivingly slick, especially after the muddy top layer got scraped off, and Anderson told us it was a lot like the California test tracks in terms of technique and control.


Maybe it’s just us, but Eli seemed off. Now, that’s not to say that second is a terrible result, but we just expected a lot of the Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha rider on the monster track.

He was damn sure trying, though. ET was one of the guys that labored with the three-four on Friday (watch the raw video to see Eli’s attempt from the media practice session), was fourth-fastest in Timed Qualifying, and chased Anderson for the win in 450 Heat Race One. Even after a late mistake next to the mechanic’s area sent the soon-to-be-champion into a swap, Tomac regrouped and launched one more ill-fated attack for the win.

Watch his early laps in the 450 Main Event again if you can. Tomac was among the top-five early, but for whatever reason, he wasn’t able to match the intensity of some around him and it caused him to lose spots. Steve Matthes said that Tomac was briefly worried about a bike issue, something we could believe considering his hard riding style and adjustment of the clutch later, but it turned out that the bike wasn’t a problem.

Either way, Tomac should get his second title by Denver, if not Foxboro. All he needs to do is finish ahead of Anderson in one of the remaining three races.


Chase Sexton told us that his 450 Main Event crash was due to the front-end issue he and Team Honda HRC have spent the year sorting out. According to the rider, they’ve made recent progress with the CRF450R thanks to suspension input from Trey Canard and some other setup changes, including the move back to the HRC clamps, and that it’s made the bike better than ever in many ways. Unfortunately, Sexton says it’s still lacking precision and feel in certain corners, and that’s what happened in ATL.

While that cost mistake cost him the win, the day wasn’t a waste for Sexton. He was the fastest in Timed Qualifying, put in some of his best laps of the season on the way to his Heat Race win, and did everything he could to get back to the podium in the 450 Main Event.


Cooper Webb’s fourth place result deserves some attention, mostly because we weren’t sure if the Red Bull KTM rider was going to line up at one point last week. Sure, he and the team said he’d be back in Atlanta, but you know how things are for injured riders late in the season. True to his word, CW was on the gate and kept things interesting by running second for most of the 450 Main Event. Just for fun, watch the standings between Sexton and Webb in the final rounds; the two are tied with 227 points for sixth place.


There was a lot of back and forth about what bike Kyle Chisholm would ride in ATL: his Team Chizz 450 or the Star Racing 250? The team told the veteran they didn’t really need him for the Showdown, thanks to Craig and Thrasher’s participation for the West Region, so he got back on the big bike and ended the 450 Main Event in eighth place. Wow.

Like we’ve said for a few weeks, there are six riders currently fighting for spots 16-20 in the 450 Class championship and it’s anyone’s guess how it ends. Chisholm is currently doing the best, as he’s got 16th and 84 points, but he’ll be back on the Star Racing 250 this weekend in Foxboro.

Michael Antonovich

Michael Antonovich has a wealth of experience with over 10 years of moto-journalism under his belt. A lifelong racing enthusiast and rider, Anton is the Editor of Swapmoto Live and lives to be at the race track.

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