Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Christian Craig fired the first shot in the 250SX West Championship, taking a commanding victory at Saturday night’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross season opener in Anaheim, California.
At a challenging Anaheim 1, the young Nate Thrasher salvaged points with a 12th place finish. Unfortunately, Colt Nichols’ night ended early with a big crash while leading his heat race.
It was a masterclass performance from Craig, who topped every session and dominated the second heat race to secure a number-one gate pick for the Main. Although he didn’t get the start he was hoping for, he quickly made his way to third and claimed the lead on Lap 4. The Californian went on to secure the win by a healthy margin, marking his second-consecutive victory at the season opener, but this time in front of the home crowd as the series made its return to its traditional starting venue at the Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Thrasher had a solid heat race with a top-five result, but he hit the gate at the start of the Main and found himself at the back of the pack. He put his head down and worked his way to 11th by Lap 5. The 19-year-old was battling for the top 10 but crashed before the halfway mark and ultimately crossed the line 12th.
Nichols was looking to have a strong start, but unfortunately, the 2021 250SX East Champion had a big crash in the whoops while leading the first heat race and sustained injuries to both arms. He will undergo surgery today, and an update will follow.
The Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing team heads up to Oakland, California, next weekend for Round 2 of Monster Energy AMA Supercross at RingCentral Coliseum on Saturday, January 15.
Team manager Jensen Hendler: “It feels really good to start the season off with a win. I’m very proud of everybody on the team. There are so many people to thank that get us to where we are right now. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of hours, so it feels really good to see it pay off. Christian rode awesome tonight, and we look to keep it rolling.
“It was a rollercoaster night for us, though. I’m bummed for Colt, but we’ll keep pushing forward, and things will come around for him. Nate showed a lot of promise tonight. He was a little timid at first and got caught up with some stuff in the Main, but he stayed strong, got back up, and kept pushing. We’ll just keep plugging away and look to come back stronger next week.”
Christian Craig: “I don’t think anything can top last year’s win in Houston, but I would say this is just as good. Having all the fans back and having my family here, and winning at a hometown race is a dream come true. I’ve been coming here since I was three years old, so this means everything to me.
“It was an awesome Main Event, and I felt awesome all day. I didn’t get the best of starts, but I made my way through the pack and made clean passes. Once I got up front, I just clicked off my laps and rode a smart race. We’re going to try and keep this thing going into the next round in Oakland.”
Nate Thrasher: “It was a tough night, but I felt like I was riding well. Somebody hit the gate, and it moved, so I went and hit it too. Then I was working my way up through the field and was going for another pass, but the guy got cross-rutted, and I ended up going down. After that, I tried to push my way back but just didn’t have anything left. So, it was kind of a bummer because I felt like I was riding well and could have made it to the top five. It was just a tough night, but we’ve got the speed, so I’m going to come back next weekend and put it on the box.”