Sexton, Roczen and Lawrence on San Diego

On Saturday evening at the San Diego round of the AMA Supercross series, Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton notched a 450SX victory for the first time in his career. The Illinois native was dominant aboard his CRF450R, grabbing the main-event holeshot and leading 23 of 26 laps. In the 250SX West class, Hunter Lawrence overcame a crash to secure a solid second-place result for the second week in a row.

When the gate dropped for the 450SX main event, Sexton was the first rider to turn 1 but was quickly passed by Marvin Musquin. Three minutes into the 20-minute-plus-one lap race, Sexton reclaimed the lead and never looked back. It was an impressive performance by the 22-year-old, who finished with a winning margin of over six seconds. Meanwhile, Round 1-winner Ken Roczen had a decent start, completing lap 1 in fifth, and he executed firm passes to advance to third on lap six. At that point, he and Jason Anderson made contact, with Roczen going down. The German was quick to remount and ended the night in seventh.

In the 250SX West main event, Lawrence ran second for the entire 20-lap race, dogging leader Michael Mosiman. The Australian, who had topped his heat race, made a late bid for the lead, but with less than two minutes remaining, he became entangled with lappers in the whoop section, made contact with Mosiman, and went down. Lawrence remounted without losing a position and made a final pass attempt, ultimately coming up just 1.361 seconds short.

With 14 races remaining on the schedule, Sexton is now tied for second in the title chase, a single point behind Eli Tomac, with teammate Roczen seventh, only seven points back. Lawrence remains second in the 250SX title chase. Next up is the second Anaheim race, on Saturday.

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Chase Sexton: “Tonight couldn’t have been much better. Obviously winning the heat race would’ve been nice, but tonight was a dream come true. I finally got a solid 20-minute moto in me on race day. I had a good start and just kind of clicked off my laps. I’m excited and it’s hard to put into words, but I want to do it again; it’s addicting. I’ve been in those positions so many times late in races that I’ve kind of gotten used to it; I hadn’t won a race, but I’ve gotten used to having a lead near the end. Tonight I finally got it to close and I wouldn’t say it was harder than I thought, but it obviously wasn’t easy. I felt really good with the track tonight. It was easy to make mistakes, but I’m just stoked with the testing we did this week; it all paid off. I did have one little bobble at the end of the whoops; I slid a little bit but it wasn’t anything to increase my heart rate. I was just trying to nail the whoops every lap. That really was the main part tonight and just being consistent. We did a good job and I’m excited to go back to work.”

Ken Roczen: “My day was rough; the track was different. We’ve been on super-soft dirt, and then we come here and it’s gravelly and hard-packed. I was kind of chasing my bike setting, so we tried a bunch of stuff that I had previously tried; every practice, I was riding something different. We made the right choice for the main event, and I felt good on the bike. I was able to charge forward and everything was running smoothly until [Jason] Anderson took me down. I had no idea he was even there, but that was probably my worst run through the whoops. I got sideways and went wide, and he just didn’t turn and just took my front wheel. My grip was all peeled off. Afterwards I couldn’t get that flow back anymore and kind of just hung around in seventh the whole time. It is what it is. Back in the day with those results, I would’ve been 30 points behind, but I’m seven points behind right now. It’s crazy – exciting even for a racer; there’s still a lot that could happen.”

Hunter Lawrence: “San Diego was cool and another good night with a really good race on our hands. I was really happy with how everything was going and then unfortunately it got tough, trying to navigate with all the lappers. Obviously, they’re in their own race and I’m also trying to fight for a win, so it’s a tough situation to be in. I probably could have navigated a little better, but all in all we’re still happy. We’re fit and strong, and our speed and fitness are great in the mains. I was able to unfortunately crash but pull back four-and-a-half seconds, so that shows I’m in a great place. I’m really looking forward to next weekend. The bike has been great. The team has been really helping me during the day, and we’ve been working together so well. Everything is coming together.

Lars Lindstrom:What a night! After the rough time we had last week, we were looking to redeem ourselves, and we worked hard all week to do that. Confidence can go up or down so quickly; we were knocked down a peg, so we needed to have a night like this to get us back. I have to say that Hunter is becoming an incredible supercross racer. Rising to the level it takes to beat the best guys in his class isn’t easy, but he’s been able to get there quickly; I’m super impressed and proud of him. That was his race to win, and I know he learned a few things tonight. Our starts in the 450 race were really good, and the competition is so strong at the moment that it really helps to start up there. Unfortunately, Kenny tangled with Jason [Anderson] there while running near the front. Still, he made improvements with the bike this week, and I think he’ll work on a few things to get back up on the podium. Chase rode absolutely awesome! He did what we’ve seen him do all off-season – ride with incredible speed and strength; it looked like a practice day for him. It was so exciting to be there for his first ever 450SX win; it’s been a long time coming, and I think with the monkey off his back, he could do some serious damage to the rest of the field. It was also his mechanic Brandon Zimmerman’s first 450 win and his first win with Chase, so that was special as well.”

Words and images: Honda

Jonathan McCready and Andy McKinstry talk about the craziness of the 450 class in supercross, Sexton’s first win and Tomac taking the red plate. Get it on iTunes here or Spotify or YouTube below: