Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Colt Nichols battled back to third to keep his podium streak rolling on a tough night at Saturday’s penultimate round of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Oklahoman heads into next weekend’s East-West Shootout at the series’ finale with a 23-point lead. Unfortunately for his teammate Christian Craig, a leg injury from a big crash in the second qualifying session forced the Californian to retire from his heat race, ending his title hopes.
The stage was set for a battle for the crown between the two Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing teammates, with Nichols having an eight-point advantage. Craig fired the first shot, topping the timesheets in the first two sessions. The Californian held onto the fastest qualifying honors in spite of his big crash in the final qualifying session. He went to the Alpinestars’ Mobile Medical Unit to seek evaluation on his injured left ankle and made the decision to try to race. Craig lined up for his heat, but it was too much pressure on his leg, so he withdrew from the race early.
Qualifying fourth, Nichols came out swinging in his heat race, leading from start to finish for a dominant victory. Unfortunately, he was unable to pull off a repeat in the Main Event and found himself sixth after the first lap. The red-plate holder rode a smart race and worked his way to fourth. Nichols put the pressure on and made the pass for third after his competitor went wide into the hay bales. He closed the gap on the leaders but ran out of time and had to settle for the final spot on the podium.
The Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing team returns next weekend for the East-West Shootout at the Monster Energy AMA Pro Supercross season finale on Saturday, May 1, at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. Both Nichols and Justin Cooper look to seal the deal in their respective 250SX championships, with Nichols holding a 23-point lead in the East and Cooper leading by 20-points in the West.
Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing 250 Team Manager
“Honestly, losing Christian like that, it kind of dampens the whole mood in the truck, but obviously we still have got to do our job. All in all, it was still a good night. I know Colt feels like he left some stuff on the track tonight and could have got it done, but if you had told him this morning that he’d be leaving here tonight, with a 23-point lead he would have been pretty happy. It was a pretty tough race, kind of follow the leader and people were going everywhere. Obviously, he wanted to stay out of trouble and needed to. We’re going to take it and move on to the finale.”
Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
“I don’t even know what to say. It was a good night, getting on the podium, so that’s always awesome. It’s just been a roller coaster of emotions kind of day, we came into this battling my teammate and we were looking to have two really good races here in Salt Lake City, me and him going head-to-head with only eight points separating us, so it was unfortunate that he crashed out and ended up hurting his ankle. That just puts you in a weird spot.
“I needed to execute a little better in the main and I didn’t. I got a horrible start which made it hard on myself and I had to come through the pack. I felt like I didn’t start riding very well until about 10 minutes into that main and then I started to get going. I just waited around too much. In order to wrap it up tonight, the one guy I didn’t need to win was Jo (Shimoda), and he did. Looking at the big picture it’s good, though. If you would have told me I would have had a 23-point lead going into the final round, I’d be pumped. So overall, it’s awesome to be so close. We’ll try again next weekend.”
Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing
“It’s hard to put into words, we’ve been working so hard this season. Things were going so well at the start of the day and then I was on the ground. I tried everything to race but just couldn’t put any pressure on my leg. As of now, it looks like I fractured my fibula and sprained my ankle. We’re going to get checked out at home and get ready for the outdoor season.”