It’s mind boggling to think that Team Honda has not won a supercross championship since Ricky Carmichael raced to the title in 2003. Yes, it has been 18 long years since the Honda Motor Co., Ltd of Minato, Tokyo, Japan celebrated winning the Monster Energy Supercross Championship and for a brand that has won absolutely everything there is to win – Formula 1, MotoGP, MXGP– that’s just simply way too long. Chase Sexton is the latest hire to attempt to end the supercross dry spell. The 2019 and 2020 AMA 250SX East Supercross Champion, Sexton was brought onto the Honda 450cc program to not only be Ken Roczen’s teammate in 2021, but to go out and win 450cc Supercross main events, and possibly at some time, even a championship. The rookie has had to take his lumps this year, as 13 races into what has been a tumultuous ‘21 Monster Energy Supercross Series, he has competed in a total of six main events, his best results coming with a pair of top five finishes at Arlington, Texas. Now Sexton wants more. He wants a win. The 14,000 cubic feet of dirt that have been moved around over at Atlanta Motor Speedway for this Saturday’s supercross race set for the 125,000-seat stock car venue just might be what the young, well-spoken man from La Moille, Illinois needs to put his name and the No. 23 up in lights.
Racer X: Chase, what’s happening this Friday?
Chase Sexton: I’m packing for Atlanta and getting ready to head over there.
It’s been a long break between these races, hasn’t it?
Yeah, it’s been kind of nice. I crashed at the last race at Dallas and kind of messed my face up a little bit, so it has been nice to be able to let that heal. Yeah, I’m ready to get back racing.
What kept both yourself and the Team Honda HRC contingent busy during the three week break?
Yeah, so I took that week off after the last Dallas race just to let me body heal a little bit and my face was pretty jacked up, so I let that heal and used the antibiotics and let myself get better. After that, I got right back into training with off the bike stuff. That next Monday I got back on the bike and had four days of good riding. We did two days of outdoors and two days of supercross and then all of this week we’ve been focused on supercross. We also got a little bit of outdoor riding in. I felt really good in the outdoors and it was nice to change it up because riding supercross for four months can get, not old, but it can just get monotonous doing the same thing every day. Getting back to outdoors has been nice and, yeah, now we are back on supercross and focusing on these five races.
What do you make of the Atlanta Motor Speedway track you’ll race on this Saturday as well as next week? The circuit appears to be long and fast and certainly a parallel to the Daytona International Speedway infield supercross track.
Yeah, I mean with the first look at it, it obviously looks like Daytona just because it’s a speedway and it’s outdoors, but honestly, I think this is going to be way longer than Daytona is. Looking at the pictures I’ve seen so far, I’m thinking at least, or even over, 1:20 second lap times at Atlanta. I mean just the length of the track is going to be pretty cool because it is going to be less laps in the main event, for sure. Yeah, the track is going to be a different animal because there are going to be a lot of rhythm sections and long lanes and I think there are going to be two sets of whoops, so I’m looking forward to all of that. Changing it up like this is going to be something cool and maybe something they do more of in the future. This is definitely going to be a nice test and we’ll have three races on it, so I’m excited.
Yes, the Atlanta Motor Speedway track and you guys on the big and powerful 450cc motocross bikes should make for an excellent spectacle of supercross racing. In some ways maybe like an outdoor race, huh?
Yeah, definitely. This track is going to be more supercross focused than Daytona is, but it is definitely going to have a little bit of outdoor speed to it and that was kind of the reason why I rode outdoors last week to get that speed back. Stuff comes up faster racing outdoors because you’re traveling at a higher rate of speed and being on a 450 now, you have plenty of power to get going pretty fast. I’m excited to try this one out and get ready for outdoors because obviously last year the end of the season went well. I’m looking forward to being a contender this year and putting it up front.
You’ve been up-and-down as far as the results in the six 450cc supercross main events you’ve lined up for and you’ve sat out six races due to injury and recovery, but still, the top five speed and potential is totally there, isn’t it?
Yeah, like you said, I’ve been pretty up-and-down this year. It hasn’t quite happened how I wanted it to happen. Obviously, the first race wasn’t very good (P14 at Houston 1) and then at the second race (Houston 2) I came out and won the heat race and going to the main event I got the holeshot and I think I had a six second lead over second place with six laps in. I was going at a good rate of pace and then I ended going down pretty hard which hurt my shoulder. That caused me to miss six races. That was a little bit of a bummer. Then we came back for Daytona and I didn’t have the race pace that I wanted. Those guys have been racing for a while and I missed six races and just kind of came back and was a little bit off the pace. I felt like at every Arlington race my speed got better. My first race at Arlington was really good. I ended up getting a fourth. I rode in third a long time behind Justin Barcia and ended up getting passed by Jason Anderson. That was a good race for me. I got fifth at the next race at Arlington. In the third race I was up to fifth again and just like I did at Houston, I had a bobble in the sand section and I ended up going down. Overall, I feel like my riding is getting better and I’m really looking forward to these last five races. I still feel like I have stuff to prove in supercross. I haven’t had the season that I’ve wanted so far, but I think I still have what it takes to get on the podium and to possibly win a race. That’s my focus at this point. It’s been really good and I’ve been working with James Stewart and it has been fun with him and riding at his place is awesome. It’s been a dream come true.
Honda and HRC have a fabulous history and heritage in our sport and you’re a part of that and the highest level in the spirit. Cool stuff, huh?
It has been really, really cool. I started at the amateur level racing for Amsoil Honda and then was drafted into GEICO Honda and now I’m on the factory team and it has been really cool to go through each rank of their program. Now that I’m on the top step of that, it has been fun. Being teammates with Ken [Roczen] has also been great. He’s going for a championship this year, which is cool to see. I wish it was me! [Laughs] But, no, it has been fun being teammates with him. The team is awesome. They have a lot of history, like you said. My goal is to obviously put them back on the top step because they haven’t won a championship since RC. That’s my goal. I’m really excited to be working with those guys. It has been fun so far. Hopefully, we have a long period together.
As you mentioned, there are five races left on the 2021 Monster Energy Supercross Series schedule and perhaps this is a good time to go out there and see if you can pull off a podium or even a win, huh?
Yeah, like I said I’m kind of taking these last five races as an opportunity to go out there and prove what I’m capable of doing because I have shown speed this year and I have had really good races, but I still haven’t reached my goal yet. I have five races to do that. There is nothing to lose for me. My main goal is just to battle with the guys in the top four or five because those are the guys I’m going to have to race in outdoors and race against next year in supercross. They’re not going anywhere and I have to go out there and show them what I’m made of. I’m looking forward to that and looking forward to doing battle with these guys. It has been fun so far. The 450 class is a whole different animal. It has been cool to see how these guys race and how they just go about a race day. I get to learn from them because they have a lot more years under their belts than I do. It’s been a challenge so far, but I’m looking forward to trying to bridge that gap. I’m really looking forward to these Atlanta rounds.