Top 5 cookin in the Levi Kitchen at RedBud Motocross

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Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Levi Kitchen finished fifth overall in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross 250 class with a 9-4 moto score at yesterday’s RedBud National in Buchanan, Michigan. Justin Cooper also fought back from adversity to end the day seventh overall (7-9), and Nate Thrasher joined them in the top 10 with a 10-7 result. Rookies Nick Romano and Matt LeBlanc were 15th (12-16) and 20th (19-19), respectively.

The day started well for Kitchen with a top-five qualifying result. He didn’t get the start he was hoping for and found himself 14th in the first moto, but put his head down and made his way to ninth. In the second moto, he got a much better start in seventh and once again, charged his way forward. On Lap 12, he claimed third but ultimately was passed a couple of laps later and rode on to finish fourth. His 9-4 result earned valuable championship points to move him back into the top five in the standings.

Cooper qualified sixth, but also struggled with his start in that first moto and was 16th after the first lap. The New Yorker got to work and made gains by executing the infamous LaRocco’s Leap at RedBud and crossed the line seventh. In Moto 2, he was back up front at the start, battling for a podium position but unfortunately came together with another rider and rejoined at the back of the field. Cooper once again showed resolve and fought his way back to ninth, salvaging points to maintain his fourth spot in the title chase and end the day seventh overall.

Thrasher struggled earlier in the day and qualified 13th, but when it came time to racing, he found his stride. He was eighth after the start of the first moto and advanced to sixth on Lap 6 but was dealing with some arm pump issues and ultimately salvaged a 10th-place finish. In the second moto, he was 10th after the start and worked his way to seventh to end the day 10th overall.

As for Romano, he hit the ground running at his RedBud National debut. He was second in the first qualifying session and then led the way for the team with a fourth-place result in the combined timesheets. The rookie from New York was 11th after the start of the first moto and tried to make his way forward but ultimately finished 12th in the challenging conditions. In the second moto, he got a better start in sixth but was shuffled back to 16th in the challenging conditions and scored 15th overall.

Rookie LeBlanc struggled to find his flow at his first RedBud National and qualified 18th. In the first moto, he got a great start in sixth but was shuffled back to 19th. With another less than ideal gate pick, he was 11th after the first lap of Moto 2. He tried to make his way forward but ultimately scored another 19th-place finish to end the day 20th overall.

Next weekend, the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team heads to Southwick, Massachusetts, for Round 6 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship at The Wick 338 on Saturday, July 9.

Jensen Hendler

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 250 Team Manager


“It wasn’t the day we were hoping for at RedBud. We had some bad luck go our way with a couple of guys, but overall, we were able to get some solid results despite a tough day. It was our starts that really hurt us today, but our guys fought hard and came back.

“We’ve got some work to do. Four of these five guys really haven’t raced a lot of nationals, and some of our champions in the past took 15 motos until they started winning and going well. So, we can’t lose focus on that. We’ll just keep working hard. Next weekend is a sand race, so we’ll prepare for that this week and try to be stronger next weekend.”


Jensen Hendler
Levi Kitchen

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“It was a good day overall. In the first moto, I got buried on the start and got up to ninth. I really didn’t ride great in that first moto, to be honest. Then in the second moto, it was not the greatest of starts again, but I was riding really well. I got up to third from 10th, which was great. I saw Jo (Shimoda) was coming, and he ended up getting me towards the end. I went 9-4 for fifth overall and got back to fifth in the championship. We’ll just keep building. We have another new track next week, and I’m looking forward to it.”

Justin Cooper

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“It was definitely a tough day, but I made it way tougher on myself by starting way back. In the first moto, I messed up the start and in the second moto I was up there around the top three and then I came together with another rider on that first lap. I went down, picked my bike up, then lost it the other way, so I started dead last and just did what I could. My speed was good, though, but I’m still really bummed about going down in the second moto. I think I could have maybe got into the lead doing the (LaRocco) Leap, and that would have been cool to at least give it a shot at the front, but that didn’t happen. We’ll go back and try again next weekend.”

Nate Thrasher

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“It was a tough day. The track was very brutal for those motos. It’s probably the roughest track we’ve had so far this year. It was tough, but at the same time, it was good, though. I felt like I had my best pace so far this year and better starts. I’m just moving a little bit each weekend. I felt like I had the top-five pace today, but just a little bit of arm pump held me back. We’ll come out swinging for next weekend. I just want to keep building and hopefully, by the end, we can be on the podium. I’ve got some things to work on, and we know what we need to do.”

Nick Romano

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“My day started off really well. I qualified fourth overall, which I was super stoked with. Then by the time motos came around, I ended up 12th in the first one. I was strong the whole moto but was just the twelfth-fastest. In the second moto, I had a horrible start, and I was kind of mid-pack, then I was stuck there. I think there’s a lot of positives to take away from today, and we’ll keep looking at that and keep building every weekend.”

Matt LeBlanc

Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing

“It was just a rough day. I really struggled and just pretty much mentally couldn’t figure out the track. I didn’t ride well, so I’ve got a lot to figure out this week. We’re going to put the work in and get rested up for Southwick, and hopefully, do a lot better.”

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