Feld Enertainment Inc.

Justin Cooper on the other face of aggression in Supercross

Leave a comment

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.”

Subscribe to NBC Sports Gold for complete qualification and race coverage

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.