Justin Cooper on the other face of aggression in Supercross

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Aggression has two faces: one focuses outward at the competition; the other faces inward.

When Justin Cooper looks in the mirror this weekend before suiting up for Round 6 of the Monster Energy Supercross season at San Diego (on NBCSN 10 p.m. ET), he will see the second face.

Following the 250 race at Anaheim 2, the series hit Dylan Ferrandis with a 12-month suspension for running into Christian Craig.

Supercross docked Austin Forkner two positions for cutting the track in the season opener. That penalty cost him the final rung of the podium and relegated him to fifth.

Meanwhile, Cooper stood on the top step in Anaheim 1 and smiled down at the competition.

“Everyone has the first-race jitters, and I was able to get through it pretty much mistake-free and came home with the win there and just carried the momentum through the season so far,” Cooper told NBC Sports.

Cooper left A1 and headed to St. Louis. He finished second there and again at A2. He won one of the three mains in the Glendale Triple Crown and earned his fourth podium in five races last week at Oakland.

Redefining the Terms

Racing often seems to be about conflicting agendas. A decision must be made about whether a rider will go for broke on every lap of every race, or if he should opt for consistency.

In five races so far, Cooper is showing it doesn’t always have to be an either/or proposition.

“(Aggression) can cost you sometimes,” Cooper said. “Like we saw Dylan go down with Christian. It doesn’t always work out.

“There is a certain limit to the aggression you want to carry with you. What’s important is riding the bike aggressively, maybe not against other people. Hit your marks and charge every lap, and that always puts you in a good position.”

Currently second in points, Cooper is in a good position.

But he lost the lead due in no small part to momentarily forgetting which face to show at Glendale. Aggression cost him when he became entangled with another rider in Race 1. Trying to make up for that mistake, he overrode his limit in Race 2 and crashed in consecutive races. By Race 3, he found his equilibrium again. Still, his early mistakes cost him a strong finish in the overall, and Cooper left Arizona ninth.

“I’m more of a podium guy than all-out sending it for the win,” Cooper said. “But that’s also a weakness for me too because I feel like I do leave something on the table sometime. You’ve really got to trust your ability on the bike and give it all you’ve got when it’s race weekend.”

MORE: Austin Forkner makes a statement

While his overall finish at Glendale cost points, winning Race 3 may prove critical to his potential to win the championship.

“It brought some belief back in myself,” Cooper said. “I was kind of doubting myself after the first two (races) and it’s always good to remind yourself that you still have it.

“You’ve got to believe you can win. … I expect to be on the podium every round. That would be ideal and it would put me in a great position to go after this championship. Definitely want to get another win or two, but more importantly it’s going to come down to consistency and making sure I don’t have any bad nights.”

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Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.