When we last saw Chase Sexton, he was gone. As in, checking out with the lead at the second round of Monster Energy AMA Supercross. He led early with riding partner Adam Cianciarulo hanging behind him. Then Cianciarulo went down and Sexton’s lead grew. Then Sexton went down in the same spot Cianciarulo did, but this was a vicious crash, and it put him on the injury list.
Now Sexton is back and ready to get back in the fray this weekend at Daytona. We talked to him in advance of the event.
Racer X: So you’re back on the motorcycle and ready to race?
Chase Sexton: Yeah, super excited to be back. I feel like I’ve been off the motorcycle for more than two months, but it was probably a month and a half. I feel like I missed 18 races! It was pretty difficult watching these guys race. But I’ve been making the most of it and I’m excited to be back.
Did it make it worse to know that, when you got hurt, you were leading? Does that make it sting more?
You could say either way. You could say that, best case scenario, if you’re going to crash, it’s better to be leading. My mindset coming in was not win or bust, but I wanted to put myself out there, and if I crash, whatever, it happens. I guess I would be more bummed if I was battling for 12th and crashed. But obviously I was still super bummed. I felt really comfortable, I didn’t feel like I was riding over my limit or anything like that. The crash just came out of nowhere. I’m bummed but it could have been a lot worse, injury-wise.
So what was the actual injury in the end, and when did you get back on the bike?
Yeah it was weird, nothing was torn or broken. Just a bad bone bruise on my scapula [shoulder blade] and a strained rotator cuff. I had a lot of inflammation and that was causing most of the pain. It’s still sore from riding but it’s to the point now where it doesn’t hurt, it’s just soreness. Most importantly, it’s good for 20 plus one. I’ve been putting it to the test lately. This is going to be a tough race but I’ve been riding for about three weeks now. Four days the first week, three days last week and I’ll have three days this week. I missed about three weeks of riding overall, but I feel like I got all of it back, or even more.
Look, you’ve always been known as a solid rider and I think everyone respected your style on the bike. But lately, the speed! Your qualifying speed ever since you got on a 450 has been crazy, and you were definitely fast in the little bit we saw in supercross this year. Is this next-level speed or did you alwaysexpect to be like this? The speed has been off the charts since you got on the 450.
[Laughs] I don’t know if it’s coincidence but I feel like ever since I started working with James [Stewart] my speed has gone next level. It’s not like we train that way. It’s not like we work on a whole bunch of speed, but I feel like the 450 really suits my riding style. Outdoors I was fast, I think I qualified fastest four times or something like that in the nine races, and supercross I was fastest once and second at the other one. Speed’s good, but speed doesn’t get you the win all the time, you’ve got to match that with the consistency. That’s what I’ve been working on with the break, trying to ride the bike a little differently. You have to ride the 450 differently. You have to pair that speed with consistency. My riding style is smooth but that 450 catches you off guard at times. I’m excited with where I’m at on the bike. Looking forward to putting it to the test. We’ve got to get back in race mode, because these guys have been in a groove racing every weekend. Excited to be back with them.
You’re working with James Stewart, and he’s had some of the most spectacular moments in Daytona history. Have you been practicing jumping wall jumps and gator pits and things like that? Because that’s what he did! Is that in the game plan?
[Laughs] Well, I hope they put one out there. It’s be nice to have something to jump over, but the last few years, I think on purpose, they set it up so you can’t jump them. I think they took them out after that. Yeah, it’d be nice, I’d like to try it. I went back and rewatched that one race, it took some commitment to do it! Then even after he crashed he jumped it again! I was talking to him about it and he said yeah, that was probably the gnarliest jump he’s ever done in his whole career.
Wow! That’s saying a lot!
Yeah, he’s even impressed with himself for doing that jump!
Hey so your teammate Ken Roczen is making that bike look good, and you said you’re not rushing back, you’re back because you’re ready. So what do you hope to do this weekend? You left a pretty high standard speed-wise at those first two races.
Well, I’d like to say I left a pretty high standard, but I haven’t finished on the lead lap yet! That would be the first goal. I just want to get good starts and put myself in a good position to run with the guys. Obviously we’re not in the championship and Ken is leading. For me, I can use the rest of the races to get ready for next year. I feel like next year coming in I should be a championship contender. I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. I want to be in the top five consistently, and I feel like I have the potential to win races, or hopefully win a race or be on the podium. So that’s kind of where I stack myself up, but no one is putting any pressure on me.
Hey what’s Daytona been like for you in the past?
So I finished second at Daytona two years in a row. The first year I went I was kind of skeptical if I was going to like it or not, because it’s kind of a supercross and outdoor mix. The first year I went we have a really big rhythm section down one whole lane. I really liked that track, I got second to Austin [Forkner] that year. Then last year I didn’t gel with the track all day, I was not a fan of it. So I’m 50/50, but this year’s track looks more like the one I liked in 2019. Overall the dirt is really good there. We practice on these Daytona sections but you can’t replicate that Daytona sand. I really like the dirt, so I’m excited to race on Saturday.