East Region 250SX Class
Entering Saturday’s race inside Lucas Oil Stadium, Forkner was a bit under the weather, and it provided a sense of uncertainty in regards to how hard he would be able to push throughout the afternoon and evening. That meant the door was open, albeit very slightly, for another rider to step up and stop the Forkner freight train. That proved to be wishful thinking as Forkner paced the qualifying sheets as the only 250SX rider to break into the 48-second bracket. All four Monster Energy riders secured a time inside the top six, with Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Justin Cooper third, Forkner’s Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Martin Davalos fifth, and Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha’s Mitchell Oldenburg sixth.
Oldenburg was the lone Monster Energy rider in the first Heat Race of the night, and he made the first statement after the gate drop by surging into the early lead. He paced the field for several laps until Chase Sexton wrestled away the top spot from the Yamaha rider. Oldenburg stood tough and kept Sexton honest through to the finish, earning a runner-up result.
The remaining trio of Monster Energy riders highlighted the second Main Event, where Forkner emerged from the first turn with the lead, only to crash after misjudging his speed and getting into a tuff blox. Another rider ran over Forkner and there was a brief moment of concern as he gingerly returned to action, but it wasn’t long before he continued at full pace and started to climb his way up the standings, in search of a transfer spot.
Forkner’s misfortune opened the door for Kyle Peters to grab the lead, with Cooper and Davalos right behind him. Peters was able to fend off the Monster duo for a while, but it felt like a pass for the lead was inevitable. Cooper made his move with three laps to go and appeared to get around Peters, but the Suzuki rider countered, which not only kept Cooper behind him, but also allowed Davalos to move into second. On the following lap, Davalos made his move around Peters, with Cooper in town. The Monster Energy duo battled it out on the final lap, where Cooper got the best of Davalos to take the Heat Race win. Forkner was impressive in his comeback, fighting up to fifth.
It was going to be a challenge for Forkner to get the edge on his rivals in the Main Event, but the prowess of his starts this season was on full display when the No. 24 stormed into the first corner ahead of Oldenburg and Sexton and came away with the holehot and early lead. It proved to be the only advantage Forkner needed, as he immediately set sail and put some distance between he and the rest of the field.
The jockeying for position in the early laps saw Davalos move into third, right on the rear fender of Sexton, with Oldenburg settling into fifth. While all the rest of his Monster Energy counterparts were in the lead pack, Cooper had his work cut out for him on the heels of a bad start in which he began his Main Event well outside the top 10 in 14th. The second-year rider went to work immediately and broke into the top 10 in just a matter of one lap. He would continue a march forward.
As the race wore on, Davalos and Oldenburg started to engage in a battle for third. Just past the halfway part of the race, Oldenburg’s patience paid off and he got around his fellow Monster Energy rider to move into the final podium spot. This battle was far from over, however, as Cooper was on a tear. The Star Racing rider successfully moved into the top five with just a handful of laps remaining and put the pressure on Davalos and Oldenburg. Cooper made quick work of Davalos to take over fourth, and then set his sights on his teammate for third. Oldenburg fended off the pressure well, but on the final lap Cooper got around to snag third.
Forkner enjoyed yet another perfect Main Event to take his fifth win of the season by 6.2 seconds over Sexton. Cooper helped put a pair of Monster Energy riders on the podium in third, while Oldeburg and Davalos put all four members of the squad inside the top five. It was the most impressive collective performance to date this season for Monster Energy.
Forkner was untouchable en route to the seventh win of his career and heads into a brief break for the East Region, getting ever so closer to clinching his first professional title.
“I am so pumped to be heading into this break with a full race points lead. I got sick this week so I told myself tonight we were going to do damage control, and fortunately damage control tonight was good enough for another win. I am going to use this break to let my body rest, do some outdoor testing, and then get a nice base of supercross practice in before we get going again. The only thing on my mind right now is this championship and I would love to wrap it up before Vegas if possible, but regardless I am going to keep doing what I am doing because right now it is working for me.”
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
2. Chase Sexton, Honda
3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha
4. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha
5. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Standings
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 151
2. Chase Sexton, Honda - 125
3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 123
4. Alex Martin, Suzuki - 92
5. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 89
6. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 88