Podium return at sandy Wick 338 in Southwick Massachusetts

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper made his podium return at the sandy track of The Wick 338 in Southwick, Massachusetts, finishing Round 6 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 250MX Championship third overall (3-4). Levi Kitchen came alive in the final moto to finish fourth overall (8-2), while Nate Thrasher also had a comeback in the second moto to finish ninth overall (15-6). Rookies Nick Romano and Matt LeBlanc got their first taste of the one-of-a-kind track, with Romano ending the day 14th (10-15) and LeBlanc 18th (16-38) after being sidelined from a crash in the second moto.

The day got off to a great start for Cooper, who qualified second in the morning’s timed sessions. His good gate pick paid off as he started the opening moto in second. The New Yorker rode a strong pace as he challenged for the lead before finishing the moto in third. It was another great start for Cooper, who came around the first lap just behind his teammate in third. Being the last moto of the day, the track was brutal, but Cooper held on to cross the line in fourth, awarding him third overall.

While Kitchen had never ridden the track in Southwick before, he started the day qualifying fourth. He had been practicing starts during the week, but a small mistake out of the gate during the first moto cost him, and he came around the first lap in 17th. The Washington State rider had a great pace and made it up to eighth by the end of the moto. The second moto gave him the opportunity to bounce back, and he did just that as he shot out to a third-place start. He quickly got by his teammate Cooper before the end of the opening lap and started to chase down the leader. Kitchen proved he belonged at the front as he made several attempts for the lead before ultimately crossing the finish line in second for fourth overall.

Thrasher was another teammate to score a top-10 qualifying time, grabbing the sixth spot to start the day. He got a good jump off the Moto 1 start and settled into 10th. The Tennessee rider made a mistake halfway through the race and went down and then had a tough time getting back to the same flow he had with the track prior to his crash and ultimately finished 15th. Knowing he was capable of much more than the top 15, Thrasher rode a quick pace in Moto 2, moving through the pack from 13th to sixth, giving him ninth overall.

Romano had a good first experience with the infamous sand track, qualifying ninth. He continued to execute his starts as he has all year, filing into third behind teammate Cooper. The rookie proved his speed was there as he ran in the top five for over half of the race, ultimately finishing the moto in 10th. He snagged another good start in seventh during the opening laps of the second moto, falling back to 15th by the end of the race.

Fellow rookie LeBlanc qualified 19th but had a positive start to the opening moto in 14th. He was moving forward but finished the moto in 16th. LeBlanc had an impressive fifth-place start in Moto 2 but went down a few laps into the race and was forced to retire early with a broken collarbone and an arm injury. He was evaluated on-site by the Alpinestars Mobile Medical Unit and will seek further evaluation after the weekend with an update on his return to follow.

Next weekend, the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team heads to Millville, Minnesota, for Round 7 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at Spring Creek MX Park on Saturday, July 16.

Jensen Hendler

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 250 Team Manager


“The day went really well, and we made some more progress. We worked hard during the week with Justin Cooper and found some stuff on the bike that we knew coming into this race could give him a shot to get a good result. He had good starts all day and finished on the podium. It’s a step in the right direction for Justin. We know he’s capable of more, and we’re excited to be moving in that direction.

“Levi Kitchen and the team did a lot of starts this week, and he had a great start in that second moto, and at one point, he was rubbing tires of Jett (Lawrence). He lost his flow a little bit but ended up second in that moto. We’re very proud of him. If he keeps getting those starts, we’re going to see him running up front in a lot of motos.

“Nate Thrasher didn’t have a great first moto, but in the second moto showed up. He had a really good ride to get sixth in that moto, and it was another good step in the right direction. Nick Romano had a good first moto in 10th, but he didn’t really have enough in the second moto, and some guys went by him. He is a rookie and had never ridden this track, so overall it was a decent day for him. Matt LeBlanc was 16th in the first moto and in the second moto he found himself on the ground. We’ll be waiting to hear about his status moving forward.”


Justin Cooper

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“It was a better day for sure, and while it was good, we need to keep working. Our team has been making progress, and it showed at Southwick. I’ll be looking to keep getting better to try and be back up on the podium again where we belong.”

Justin Cooper
Levi Kitchen

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“In the first moto, I kind of had to work my way through from the back after a few mishaps but got up to eighth. The second moto was great, though! I got a good start and made a quick pass for second. I tried to run with Jett (Lawrence) as long as I could and had a few opportunities, but I rode it out and finished fourth overall.”

Nate Thrasher

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“I felt like I had the speed in both motos for a top five. In the first moto, I was running about eighth but went down and couldn’t get back to that same intensity after I got back up. The second moto was a lot better for me to come from about 15th to finish sixth. It was a better weekend for us; the track was brutal, and we put in a good fight.”

Nick Romano

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“It was a good day, and we made some good changes in the right direction. A 10-15 result for the day doesn’t necessarily look good on paper, but we had some positives to take away from it. In the first moto, I ran in the top five for about 20 minutes, and in the second moto, I was sixth for about 15 minutes. The fitness will come, and I’m not worried about it. I’m looking forward to Millville.”

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