Roczen and Seely on East Rutherford
Following a one-week break, the 2019 AMA Supercross series resumed in East Rutherford, New Jersey, for round 16, where Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen overcame a poor start to finish sixth, while teammate Cole Seely was ninth.
In the main event, Seely and Roczen both got bad jumps out of the gate, rounding the first turn outside the top 10. Roczen began maneuvering through the pack, working his way into seventh behind Seely. The two ran 6-7 for six laps before Roczen overtook his teammate with under 14 minutes remaining. He quickly closed the gap on the rider in front of him, making the pass and taking over fifth on lap eight. He maintained that position for much of the race but then came under pressure from Marvin Musquin near the end, ultimately losing the spot on the final lap and taking the checkered flag in sixth. Meanwhile, Seely had made a mistake and gone down near the halfway point, costing him a number of positions. He struggled to regain his pace, ultimately crossing the finish line in ninth.
The evening before the race, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely joined GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton and Christian Craig, as well as BWR Honda riders Carlen Gardner and Cade Autenrieth for a dealer appearance at Motorcycle Mall in Bellville, New Jersey. Hundreds of racing enthusiasts showed up to get autographs and photos with their favorite riders.
Once again, weather was a factor in New Jersey. Heavy rain on Friday forced the promoters to modify the race-day schedule in order for crews to conduct final track prep in the morning. Subsequently, rider track walk was pushed from 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m., and free practice was cancelled. Even the planned schedule had been an adjustment from normal, as it was a daytime program.
Roczen was the top Red Rider during the daytime practice sessions, posting a 52.055” lap in the second session to secure the second-best time. Seely was eighth with a 52.660” lap, followed by MotoConcept Honda’s Justin Brayton (returning from injury) in ninth with a 52.814” time.
It was a hectic 450SX heat 1, with both Roczen and Seely getting off to poor starts and coming around after the first lap in seventh and ninth, respectively. Both riders gained positions during the eight-lap race to take the checkers in sixth and seventh.
The New Jersey track was technical and tricky, and it broke down as the night progressed, making consistency a key factor to success in the main event. Roczen enjoyed the layout, saying, “The track was really gnarly. The dirt was pretty soft and the whoops broke down big time. You really had to be on your game to stay consistent, and try not to make mistakes. It seemed like a very similar layout to Atlanta 2014 and I won that race, so it gave me some good energy during track walk. That didn’t translate throughout the day, though.”
It was a perfect night for GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton, as he turned in a dream performance en route to his career-first 250SX victory. Sexton was unstoppable all day, securing the quickest qualifying time in practice before nabbing another heat-race win. In the main event, Sexton got off to a third-place start aboard his CRF250R and quickly started battling forward. He took over the lead on lap seven and never looked back, riding unchallenged for the rest of the 15-minute-plus-one-lap race. Sexton now leads the East Region Championship by nine points heading into the final round, in Las Vegas.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “It couldn’t happen at a better time. The track is super gnarly, so it was probably the longest 15-minutes-plus-one-lap of my life. It was super good. I got off to a pretty good start, and honestly Austin was trying to take me out, and I mean, you can’t win a race like that. I know it’s for a championship, but trying to saw a front end off is not cool. So, I’m just glad that I got into the lead and took this one. It feels really good! I’ve been wanting to do this for two years now, so I’m pumped on it.”
GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig attempted to make his return to action in New Jersey, but unfortunately, a crash during practice once again left him sidelined for the evening. Craig will now focus on his recovery in order to be ready for the Pro Motocross series.
The AMA Supercross series comes to a close this coming weekend at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. On Friday, Roczen will participate in the pre-race press conference before taking to the track for a quick riding session. Later that evening, Roczen and Seely, along with the GEICO Honda team will take part in a fan fest party at Carter Powersports.
Ken Roczen 94
“Today started out a bit rough. I haven’t ridden [a] supercross [track] since Denver—so two weeks ago—just because we did some outdoor testing and then because of what I’ve been dealing with, I wanted to give myself a little break. It’s taking a long time to figure out what’s going on with me, but the good thing is I felt better tonight than I have in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, we had a little mishap at the start with my holeshot button popping out, so that’s why I got that bad of a start, which obviously makes life a lot harder. I also rode pretty tight toward the end of the main event. The track was super gnarly. Overall, I’m happy that I felt better most the day and didn’t get as tired in the main as I have been. I’m going to see a few more specialists in the next couple weeks to get some legit answers. It’s been tough because I feel like I haven’t been able to show my full potential in quite a while. In the beginning of the season you could see how well I was doing, and then it went downhill from there. We’ve had a few other good runs, but it’s been a challenge for sure. It’s tough because there’s nothing more that I want than to go out there, feel good, and do good for the team. I think we’ve been making the best of it and we’re doing everything we can to get things figured out.”
Cole Seely 14
“In my mind, things were pretty mediocre today. It didn’t go great, but it also didn’t go terrible. The track was really tough. It had a bit of a weird flow and I thought the obstacles seemed a little rushed because they had to finish building the track and get it covered before the rain on Friday. I didn’t qualify great and my heat race was just alright. I felt like I rode pretty good in the heat race, just didn’t get off to a good start, which limited me from placing well. The main event was going pretty well and I felt like I was making some good passes in the beginning. I had a good amount of aggression that I thought I could hold for the whole race, but around the halfway point I fell over and lost a few positions, then rode around by myself for a while. I got pretty bad arm pump trying to make my way forward. Everything was good with the bike, so we’re looking good heading into Vegas. I just need to put together better starts and minimize my mistakes in the main.”
“It was a tough night. If I had to blame one thing specifically for tonight’s results, it would be our starts. We really need to get those starts figured out so the guys can put themselves in better positions at the beginning. It’s so hard to get a bad start and come through the field to battle with the front guys. Cole also had a little mishap after the finish line, going down in the turn and losing some spots. Ken was riding pretty well too but said he got some arm pump toward the end, so he wasn’t able to maintain.”
Mechanic (Ken Roczen)
“Today wasn’t too bad. We made a few adjustments to the bike just to dial it in for the soft track conditions but other than that we didn’t do too much. Ken did have a little get-off in the whoops during the second qualifying session, so we had to fix a few little things before the night show. He still ended up second in practice, which was good. He struggled with starts all night though. In the main, Ken put on a pretty good charge but then Marvin [Musquin] caught him on that last lap.”
Mechanic (Cole Seely)
“It was a mediocre day here in New Jersey. There were only the two timed practices and whether that’s good or bad, we were ninth and eighth in those. Cole didn’t get the greatest starts in his heat or the main, so that was unfortunate. He had a decent ride going in the main until he went down and then couldn’t fully regroup. Bike-wise, we were pretty solid. We only made one small clicker