Chase Sexton and Jason Anderson have had similar seasons. Early in the year they had the speed to match Eli Tomac and looked like real title threats, but a series of crashes at mid-season left them out of the points hunt. However, they’ve rebounded recently to right the ship, and they’ve been the best two riders at the last two races. Sexton led last week in Atlanta but crashed, handing the lead to Anderson. He recovered for third. This time Anderson got ahead of Sexton early, and Chase gave, well, chase, for a while. He got the gap to under one second, but couldn’t get any closer, and had to settle for second.
Still, like Anderson, these last two races were better than the ones before them. Sexton talked about his moves back to the front in the post-race press conference.
Chase, we keep hearing how important getting another win this season is to you, but I want to know how that compares to really just still improving the bike, cleaning up the little things that you’ve been working on, little mistakes, to prepare for outdoors. What weighs more on you with two to go?
Chase Sexton: My goal after Seattle, after having weeks of me laying on the ground, I just wanted to get back to being on the podium. Now that I’ve done that, obviously I want to continue to be on the podium but now the goal has kind of changed to going for wins. I’ve been close, but Jason obviously has been riding really well and so has Eli. So, it’s not easy. I’m doing my best I possibly can. I feel like my riding and confidence is getting better and better every weekend. I think that’s only going to help me going into outdoors. I think like Jason and those guys said, when you’re having fun it’s just easier to go out there and go fast and feel comfortable. So, that’s my goal. Overall, happy with how I’ve been riding.
You’ve worked with James Stewart and also Chad Reed, or at least rode with Chad a little bit this year. How does their advice compare and what’s the biggest thing you’ve taken away from those two? Their mentality racing each other was quite different and their styles. Do they give you different advice?
Working with James last year was cool. He taught me some stuff. I used to stand up a lot more. I used to stand up pretty much all around the track. So, I learned how to sit down a little bit, especially in supercross, and learn how to plant the bike a little better. I see a lot of Instagram comments of people blaming a lot of my crashes on him, but it was all on me. As far as Chad, he came down and rode at Tyla Rattray’s where I ride. It was more just me being able to ride with him. I can confirm he can still go fast in the whoops! It was cool to ride with him and just kind of being around those guys is cool. They have so much experience. With me lacking a little bit, it’s cool to get that side of it. Thankful to have them in my past, but as of right now I’m just kind of doing my own thing. It’s been my dad and I and my trainer, Peter Park. It’s a good group and I’m happy with it for right now.
Just as a follow up to that, it looks like you have the bike set up now, probably how you wanted it at the start of the year. What’s the biggest takeaway you’ve learned in your first two years of supercross?
I would say in the 250 class, bike setup wasn’t such a worry. It was pretty easy to set up a 250. Going to the 450 class, you’ve got to learn what you can get away with, and also figure out how to ride those gnarly tracks and be safe on them. I definitely went downhill in supercross, and it wasn’t good in the middle of the season with just how I was feeling on the bike. I wasn’t comfortable, and it showed. I hit the ground a lot. Now it’s cool to feel like I kind of felt like I did on the 250. Overall, feeling good. We kind of have the bike working how I want to now. It’s not perfect, but I don't think anyone’s is. So, just going to keep grinding.
Has your approach changed the last couple weeks? It seems like you’re a little bit more patient and taking a podium, is that an okay thing now?
My goal is obviously to win, but being on the podium isn’t such a bad thing, especially with how stacked the class is. So, I wouldn’t say I was win or bust, but when I had those opportunities to win races, I was going to go for them. I’ve had those opportunities again and last weekend I went down leading. Tonight, it was really just a track that you didn’t want to push over the edge on. I felt like I was riding in a comfortable mode. With the lappers and how gnarly and how the track was breaking down, you didn’t want to over-ride it. So, that’s something I’ve had to adjust to. You can’t obviously over-push on these tracks with the 450. You get wheel-spin really easy. For me, it’s something I’ve had to adjust to. But overall, the goal is still to win, but I’m thankful to be on the podium.
At 22 years old, you’re sitting on the podium in the 450 class. How has your age played a part in your season this year?
I wouldn’t say it’s played a whole bunch of a difference, but last year I definitely felt like I was young and definitely inexperienced, which I still am but I feel like I’m definitely more of a part of this class. Compared to last year, I feel a lot more mature. I feel like I’m just in a different spot as far as riding and mentality. So, I would say it’s a good thing to be on the podium at 22, but all these guys have been on the podium when they were young. It’s cool to see those guys still racing. Obviously, Jason and Marvin are a lot older, but they’ve been winning since they were young, too. My goal is just to kind of do that. Like I said, my goal is to win races, but it is cool to be up here with these guys. I’ve grown up watching them, so it’s fun.
You were closing and you got it under a second on Jason at one point and he was able to get back away. What happened there? Did you feel like you had him at one point?
I think I was a little bit slow in the beginning. After Eli stalled it, I kind of picked up the pace a little bit. I knew Jason was going to be good from watching him pretty much all day and in the heat race. So, I knew if I wanted to win I kind of had to go with him. There was a part in the middle of the race where I felt like I was riding really well. Lappers were definitely a factor. I think the lappers caught up with him and then got me, too. So, it was kind of a yo-yo. Obviously, he got away towards the end. But my riding was really good. So, I was just stoked on that. I think it was just a yo-yo effect with the lappers, and then obviously he broke away and it was hard to catch back up.