When the dust settled at the 2022 Daytona Supercross, three riders went home happy but were still searching for more. Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb led most of the 450SX main event before getting caught behind lapped rider Shane McElrath and allowing Eli Tomac to sneak by and take the win. Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton ended up third in the 450SX main event but lost touch with Webb and Tomac ahead of him late in the race. And Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Stilez Robertson would get second in the 250SX main event but admits there’s still more work to do over a full race distance. All three riders spoke with the media in the post-race press conference about the good and the bad at Daytona.
Cooper Webb | 2nd in 450SX
Cooper, I know you’re not happy, probably a little angry with the way things turned out, but there has to be some positives. That’s the best really you’ve looked. That’s the best the bike has looked. Things are on the upswing.
Cooper Webb: For sure. It’s definitely unfortunate being in that position, but it’s racing, and it is what it is. Like you said, I think tonight was a huge step in the right direction as far as having the pace and having the speed. Like Eli alluded to, I was reading my board and his time, and we were going back and forth. I knew he had spots and I had spots. Overall, I’m pretty happy with where I was at. The starts were really good, which was key tonight. It was pretty difficult to pass, to be fair. But overall, like you said, I think this is the best I’ve ridden at Daytona, and the best ride so far this season. Wish it would have come a little sooner, but overall, I’m happy with the spot I’m at.
You’ve had some incredible form. Is that a mental reset? A bike setting reset? Or a physical training reset? How do you best explain your form lately?
Yeah, I think a mix of everything. We’ve made a good step, like I alluded to, before Minneapolis, and then I think you just build confidence. I never doubted myself and what I could do. It was just getting comfortable. There was a lot going on behind the scenes. I think just simplifying things, going back to Florida, putting in the work behind the scenes without all the stuff that can happen in California with all the people, and whatever you want to call it. I think it was just a complete reset for me. Like I said, I never lost doubt in myself, which is easy to do in our sport, especially when things start going downhill. So, it’s good to be back up here, but definitely want to keep fighting for these wins like I have these last two and see what happens overall at the end of the year.
Did you guys notice a difference once you were able to go through the practice and through the different heats, between that last heat and the main event, did you notice any difference in your mindset when you headed into the main event?
Yeah. The track conditions change a lot throughout the race night, and with all the bikes riding and stuff like that. It’s tough because through the day you’re just worried about doing one lap at a time really fast, and as you transition to racing, it’s putting laps together and some things that were maybe fast in the heat weren’t necessarily fast in the main. That’s racing typically at all the supercrosses, but I think especially here it changes a lot.
What did you think about the split lane? Can you talk about your line choice and when you were going to pick the inside versus the outside?
I think in the heat I kind of saw the inside/outside was what was working pretty good. The split lanes are always tough. You hope they work out and it’s a passing spot, but I don't think it usually does. I was just watching the highlights. It looked like it did tonight for Eli. I think it’s situational, like everything. One rut gets bad, and we might change it up, but I pretty much stuck to mine every lap.
This question is going to keep coming up for a while, I think. Thirty-three points down. Last year you didn’t take the red plate until round ten, so is the championship still something you’re going to think about? It’s going to get down within 25 points soon. What’s your thoughts on the championship?
I guess you really do never know, but I think at this level and Eli being in this position before, we’re going to fight to the very end, no doubt, and anything can happen. But I would definitely like to be a lot closer. It would be nice to be single digits or into the teens. We’ll keep fighting and doing the best we can and go for race wins. I think that’s all we can do at this point. However, it plays out is how it will play out.
Obviously, you were bummed to lose the lead like that, but do you still look at it like progress compared to the last two weeks, which were better? Is this even better than that? Is there a little bit of confidence even though obviously you didn’t get the win you wanted?
For sure. It was overall a great night. It’s never easy to swallow that at the end of the checkered flag, but it is what it is. Like I said, a good night overall. I led all but two laps. Great starts, back in the mix, and closest I’ve ever been to Eli here. I’ll take it and try to use some confidence and use that momentum to keep the ball rolling and keep plugging away and go after that first win.
|18 Laps||1:11.377||Cortez, CO||Yamaha YZ450F|
|2||Cooper Webb||+05.273||1:11.311||Newport, NC||KTM 450 SX-F|
|3||Chase Sexton||+10.293||1:11.132||La Moille, IL||Honda CRF450R|
|4||Dylan Ferrandis||+15.536||1:11.469||Avignon, France||Yamaha YZ450F|
|5||Justin Barcia||+17.248||1:11.097||Monroe, NY||GasGas MC 450F|
Chase Sexton | 3rd in 450SX
Chase, a good start, but sort of raced by yourself a little bit, aside from a battle with Justin Barcia. Can you take us through your main event? You seem a little bit frustrated that you weren’t able to dice it up with the two guys in front.
Chase Sexton: Yeah. I had not really that great of a start, but kind of got my way to where I needed to be. Cooper was riding really well. I felt like I was going good at the beginning, and then as the track broke down and those guys kind of stayed the same, I got a little bit worse. Eli got by me and then [Justin] Barcia was behind me. in the middle of the race, I was riding a little bit better. I started to find a little bit of a flow and kind of started clicking off decent laps. I think I gapped myself a little bit from those guys. Like I said, they were riding really good. As the track got worse, I just wasn’t able to adapt to it. That’s where the gap came from. I’m happy to be back on the podium after a few rougher weeks. Excited to move on.
Looking at the lap times, you set second-fastest time in the race. Can you just talk about your bike setup or anything that you did differently today?
I saw that on the monitor after the race. Like I said, I felt good at the beginning. They didn’t really touch the track between the 250 and the 450 race. That’s the gnarliest track I’ve raced on since I turned to the big class. So, I was just kind of searching for lines and just wasn’t really flowing there probably halfway, and then started to get a little better. Yesterday I had a pretty good get-off on press day on that three, five, three before the tunnel. We made a pretty big bike change from yesterday to today. It was good to see that I felt more comfortable and was trusting the bike a little bit more. We’ve kind of stayed similar to what we raced on in San Diego and Anaheim 2 and just kind of trying to keep with the basics.
What’s the difference early in the race, late in the race? Do things change? Is fatigue more of a factor? Is the track breaking down more of a factor? Is it different than a regular supercross, the last ten minutes?
Definitely. Every supercross breaks down late in the race and that’s something I’ve had to adapt to from the little bike to the big bike. I feel like I’ve done a better job of that this year. This race in particular, the track is just really gnarly. Like Eli said, the jump before the tunnel, there was nothing there on the face and it was a big rut. It was a gnarly track. The finish line section was a pretty big rhythm and it had ruts all the way across. I felt like I had to adapt, and I didn’t adapt well enough. Just kind of go back to this week and try and get better, but we’re back to normal supercross next weekend. It's definitely a different animal, this track.
Did you guys notice a difference once you guys were able to go through the practice and through the different heats, between that last heat and the main event, did you guys notice any difference in your mindset when you headed into the main event?
As they all said, the track changes a lot from the first heat race to the last 450 heat race is a big difference in track. I was second heat today, which was actually good to see a little bit what the track does and breaks down. It’s just totally different from the heat race, from the first one to the last one. But as far as the main event, you kind of have to take it as a normal race. It’s always game time. The heat race is one thing, but the main event is where it pays the points. You’ve got to be on your toes and it’s a long race, so just putting laps together and being consistent is the biggest thing.
You’re looked upon as the future of the sport, and especially in the 450 class. What do you see or what do you learn from watching or seeing a veteran on the track like Eli Tomac winning races, arguably at an older age and you’re the young gun? Do you take away something from this? What do you gain from seeing someone like Eli still winning and still competing at such a high level?
Yeah. Every race I learn. Like you said, I’m still young, but these guys were at my age too and they were winning. So, it’s not like it’s out of the ordinary. I learn a lot from Cooper and Eli. Obviously, those guys have been at the top of this sport for a while now. Every race is different, but I just try and see how they race. Especially Eli here, how he attacks the track and breaks it down is pretty amazing. Just trying to learn. Obviously, he was really good tonight. You don’t win six times here for nothing. Third is good, but not great. Like I said, I just want to learn and keep on trucking.
Watch the full post-race 450SX press conference below:
Stilez Robertson | 2nd in 250SX
Stilez, you kind of mentioned some of the off-season injuries you had. Coming to this venue where you had a good ride last year, were you expecting to do well or were you, kind of, only realizing that it was possible again, recovering injuries, when you’re out there and then you holeshot and you’re running second and you’re like, I can do this. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Stilez Robertson: Our Daytona prep was pretty good. We had a good track. I felt good. Obviously, coming in off the podium last year I felt pretty good, but like you said, the injuries have been hindering me a little bit. Honestly, I just felt good all day. The bike was good. Something about a paddle tire. The starts have been helping me a lot, too. I think I just got a good start and tried to tuck in behind Jett. The podium last year obviously gave me some confidence. I guess I’ll like Daytona for a while now.
Is there going to be anything you’re going to try and do a little bit differently maybe this year so you can kind of replicate that as the season progresses?
Yeah. I think my setup is a little softer. Honestly, I haven’t tested one time this year just from being injured. So, I think this week we’re going to try some stiffer settings and hopefully can do it in a normal supercross. Obviously, Daytona is supercross, but I want to do it at a normal track and back it up. Just try to keep it going.
Can you talk a little bit about your ability to come back from what appears to be from the outside a serious injury? You reference a pelvic injury. It seems that that’s an incredibly critical, could be a career-ending injury. How did you come back? Are you surprised and shocked that you are where you are today?
Yeah, 100 percent. If you would have heard my phone call to my parents after I found out that I broke my pelvis, I would have never thought that I was even racing the first couple rounds. I was in a hyperbaric chamber every day, just red-light therapy and everything I could do to get better. I think it was a week and a half before the race and I was just doing starts. I couldn’t get the rut too gnarly because it would just beat up and hit me in my pelvis. It is what it is. Obviously, it was my fault. Tried a dumb line it at him in supercross. It sucked coming in. I wouldn’t have thought this, but I have a good crew behind me, and they’ve been keeping me in a good head space. Just honestly having a lot of fun right now.
You were running up front there, sort of hanging with Jett at the first part of that. That must have felt pretty good. Are you looking forward to Atlanta, which is another obviously speedway track, which is a little bit more open? I know you want to do an inside, but do you add that one on the list now that you’ve kind of done well at Daytona twice?
Yeah. Hopefully we can go to that speedway and do the same, but honestly, I sucked there last year. The east/west shootout there is going to be pretty gnarly. I want to do it in a regular supercross that way, not just a speedway.
|1||Jett Lawrence||14 Laps||1:11.606||Landsborough, Australia||Honda CRF250R|
|2||Stilez Robertson||+14.005||1:11.797||Bakersfield, CA||Husqvarna FC 250|
|+18.657||1:12.801||Sioux City, IA||Kawasaki KX250|
|4||Pierce Brown||+22.169||1:13.062||Sandy, UT||GasGas MC 250F|
|5||Enzo Lopes||+30.539||1:13.286||Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil||Yamaha YZ250F|
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is a contract year for you. Does that have any effect? Does that play in your mind at all each round as you go on and looking for different results?
Yeah, obviously you think about it. You try to put it in the back of your head, but it’s always there. It’s one of those things that’s there, but you just try not to think about it and just try to go out there and ride your dirt bike. Like I said earlier, I’m just honestly in a good head space right now. Mike Brown and Aldon and everyone is kind of like, “Just go ride your motorcycle.” Even Nate [Ramsey], our new team manager, it’s kind of a work in progress with him. He’s been awesome so far. “Just believe in yourself.” Aldon this week is like, “Dude, you have the speed. You just need to believe in yourself. Take it step by step.” Honestly, I’m just enjoying it. It’s been a lot more fun this year. Obviously, it’s a contract year, but I’m not worried about it. Just trying to have fun.
How does a guy from Bakersfield, California become a Daytona specialist?
I don't know! [Laughs] Grew up on hard pack and gravel. I guess just being in Florida helps. Our place is pretty sandy. Honestly, I think just riding sketchy tracks growing up helped a little bit because for one, the lighting here, I don't know about you, but the lighting for me is pretty sketchy. It’s not as good as it looks. The lips get chewed up. I don't know, maybe that helps, just riding in the hills. If I have the choice west or east next year, I’m coming east so I can race Daytona again. I need that top spot, dang it.
Watch the full post-race 250SX press conference below: