Main image is from the 2021 Houston 3 Supercross, photo by Align Media
The last time we were in Houston, the world was reeling from COVID-19. We changed the series format to several triple headers and even added mid-week events to the schedule. Houston was the opener for the 2021 campaign and what was only two years ago feels like a decade. We are largely back to normal in 2023 and I couldn’t be happier about that. While it was nice to remove a bit of the travel with a 3-in-1 type event, almost everything else about the restrictions and precautions are better as a memory. The fans will be back, they will be interacting, and it will be awesome.
Dirty Little Secrets
The Houston track is a bit more traditional than the wild layout we saw last week. The first thing that I noticed was the shorter start chute. A starter start creates a bit more congestion in the first corner and while the crashes may be slow, there seem to be more of them. A long 180 left brings riders back to a tunnel-tabletop. I like the simplicity of the second straightaway. Having technical sections immediately after the start is tempting fate a bit too much for my liking.
The first rhythm section is fairly short as are all of the rhythms on this track. Riders will either triple onto or wheel tap onto a tabletop, step-off and then triple into the next bowl berm. Exiting the right-handed bowl, they jump a small double and then immediately go into the finish line jump. This also means that PulpMXFantasy.com players will have to factor in a very quick approach to the finish line for their FFL choices.
Upon landing the finish line jump, riders scream past the mechanics’ area and into a left-hand sand corner. Riders tend to hate these sand corners as the fine grains of sand can drop into their goggles when roosted. Getting a mouth full of sand is generally not recommended under any circumstances, too.
Exiting the sand, riders will jump onto what serves as the first corner but instead of going left like they would on the start, riders will hit the only standard supercross triple on this track layout. A small double upon landing the triple sets riders up for a left-handed bowl berm before heading back the other direction. Up next is a set of six jumps that the elite will want to go 3-3 through.
Riders then cut across the start section twice, a la Anaheim 2’s layout. These fast, flat sections give riders a chance to take a deep breath and gather themselves each lap. The rhythm section up next should give a chance to push the limit for some. What appears as a simple step on-step off will be jumped as a quad by the top guys. The rhythm math works out the same, but the quad allows for much more speed to be carried off the initial jump. A 3-2 to exit the section looks like the ideal scenario but by no means automatic.
Yet another left-hand bowl berm greets riders, making three bowl berms in succession on this far end of the stadium. The only whoops section of this layout is next and they look lengthy. How they are built is anyone’s guess but the interesting aspect here is the exit. There is an immediate right-hand corner as the whoops end, forcing riders to manage their speed at the end of the section. Decelerating in whoops is always tricky because the front end wants to get heavy. Riders always want their front end to be light and level to avoid the dreaded endo. Knowing when and where to slow so that they maximize their whoop speed but also how to catch the inside of the next corner is why these guys are on television.
The exit of the whoops leads immediately into the over/under bridge that first greeted riders after the start and marks the beginning of another lap.
Chase Sexton got the second 450SX win of his career at A2. It’s hard to believe he hasn’t won more and that his last supercross win came over a year ago. I feel like there are more to come.
Jason Anderson finally avoided the critical mistake and found himself on the podium Saturday night. He was a bit unhappy with his race three ride, but he really needed to get back into contention, and he did.
Cooper Webb didn’t have his best night but gained two points on Tomac for the championship lead. He is a very dangerous man with confidence.
Levi Kitchen won the first SX of his career and that had to feel great. I think everyone expected more success through three rounds but this win changes the narrative on his 2023 campaign.
Jett Lawrence had a rough and tumble Triple Crown, but he extended his points lead and it’s hard to picture a scenario where he isn’t the man to beat moving forward.
Stilez Robertson joined his teammate on the podium Saturday night and was in the hunt for his maiden overall 250SX win going into race three. He needed a glimmer of sunlight after two tough rounds. He will look to springboard off that result when Oakland rolls around.
Josh Cartwright has a full-time job during the week and is also a main event guy thus far. Really impressive stuff given the field he’s up against.
Eli Tomac is still your points leader so him being here is admittedly questionable, but that crash was the biggest misstep he has had in years.
RJ Hampshire looked like he was on his way to an overall win but race two and race three came completely off the rails. He has a couple of weekends to heal up before Oakland.
Christian Craig is poetry in motion on a motorcycle, but the results haven’t shown up yet. Better days are yet to come.
Malcolm Stewart missed A2 with a knee injury and his 2023 status is up in the air.
After my Oakley goggle-wearing debacle at A2, Peacock bosses log a request for Houston. During intermission I will be flying an Air Force F15 Strike Eagle over the Utah Sports Commission, with a GoPro on my head, all while drinking a Monster Energy tall boy.
After horrific luck forces Mitch Payton’s entire team to the injured list, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki goes old school with their lineup. Pedro Gonzales, Chris Gosselaar, Eric Sorby, Matt Walker, and Stephane Roncada all arrive in Houston with bad intentions.
Jett Lawrence is interviewed after the 250 East main event and is absolutely furious about it.
Haiden Deegan holeshots the main event and breaks the internet.