History tends to repeat itself. When Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton crashed from the lead of last weekend’s Oakland Supercross and handed Eli Tomac his 48th career 450SX win, history would go to show that that sort of thing happens. But sometimes the unexpected happens, and when those unexpected moments come around, they can really be eye opening. In the case of the 450SX class of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, Saturday’s seventh round in Arlington, Texas, saw yet another twist in what is becoming one heck of a story.
AT&T Stadium played host to the second Triple Crown event of the year for the contenders of Monster Energy AMA Supercross which presents three opportunities to race for victory, but only one man leaves as the actual winner on the night. After the first race saw Tomac lead every lap to hold off Ken Roczen while Chase Sexton regrouped from a near crash in the first turn to come all the way back to third, it felt like we were in for a Tomac and Sexton duel.
We got a peek at that duel in the second race on the night, but not in the way most expected. Sexton caught Tomac and the two had a great three lap battle, Sexton eventually getting the better of Tomac. But the battle was for third place. Up front, Jason Anderson made amends for a rough eighth in the first race to win the second race ahead of Cooper Webb who turned a fifth in the first race into a second-place finish in Race 2. What it all meant is another near winner-take-all final race to decide the winner for the seventh round.
Tomac led the final race early, Sexton applying pressure the whole way. Then Sexton tucked his front end before the wall jump on the track. The near groan that this couldn’t happen again to Sexton was palpable as he remounted still in second but with a gap to Tomac. As Sexton worked to chip away at the three second lead with time winding down in the race, the crowd suddenly ignited. Tomac, all by himself in the lead, had crashed it away with a high side after the tunnel jump.
Sexton assumed the lead then with a few seconds in hand over Jason Anderson. Was this finally the end of this rough stretch where Sexton kept losing with late mistakes? Well, Anderson nearly crashed in the whoops and coughed up second place to one Cooper Webb. Webb sat a few seconds back of Sexton with just a few laps to go when the unthinkable happened again. As Sexton came through the whoops on the 13th lap, Kyle Chisholm crashed right in front of him causing Sexton to come to a near stop and tuck to the inside. Grant Harlan, another lapped rider, didn’t know where Sexton was as he tried to move aside in the next straightaway which inadvertently blocked Sexton to almost another near stop. All of this was enough for Cooper Webb to pounce. Down the inside went the #2 Red Bull KTM in the very next corner to take the lead.
Despite Sexton’s best attempts in the final few laps, Webb was simply too strong. Cooper Webb won the final race of the night and tied Chase Sexton on exactly eight points for the overall win. As the tiebreaker goes to the better final moto finish, Webb would claim victory in the Arlington Supercross as a result. His 5-2-1 scores aren’t the most orthodox way to victory, but the 26 point still floated Webb’s way when the dust settled.
“That one was a tough one for sure,” said Webb. “But it is three of them and I think I learned from the first one that you just have to put yourself in a good position early. Honestly, we kind of went the wrong way with the bike in the first one and then we went back and regrouped, and I felt like we made some good changes for the last two. Overall, my first one wasn’t my best one, and even that one, there was some mistakes at the front that helped me out. I’m stoked to execute and get a win.”
Sexton was left to yet another second-place finish. It was his fourth second-place finish in a row after his win at Anaheim 2, the last time a Triple Crown race took place. This time for Sexton, it wasn’t a late crash necessarily that cost him the win, it really was just down to wrong place-wrong time. Perhaps Webb catches and passes him anyway down the stretch, but Sexton just about had the bars taken out of his hands this time as he was a sitting duck.
Still though, the points haul has been terrific as Sexton has only finished off the podium once all year and sits just five points down of Tomac in the championship. As we begin to see the crest of the halfway mark in this championship, Sexton is in as good of a position as any to still win this championship, and the wins that have so narrowly alluded him have to be coming soon.
“All night show, I felt like my speed elevated from practice which was good,” said Sexton. “I didn’t qualify fastest today so I had a little bit more motivation. The first race I came from way back to third which was good. Just every race I felt like I had really great speed. The last main event, I washed the front in the corner. I just came in a little bit too fast. Eli was still in reach I felt like, and I still had really good pace. I still had my head down and then he obviously made that mistake after the wall jump and made it easy on me. Overall, I felt really solid in all the main events. It was some of the best riding I’ve had, especially race. I didn’t get the win. Lapped traffic didn’t help but everyone has to deal with the same stuff. So, I’ve got to be better with reading those guys and getting around them cleaner.”
Despite his crash in the final race, Eli Tomac still rounded out the podium overall as his 1-4-6 result was still just one point better than Anderson’s 8-1-3 when all was said and done. The good news for Tomac is that his championship lead is still intact, though narrowly, and he is not injured from his fall. The potential bad news is this could have been a pretty good stamp of authority on this championship as the win tonight would have left him 10 points up in the championship at least.
“I was fine [after the crash], I was just knocked a little bit out of rhythm,” said Tomac. “To be honest, I was really slow on the dragons back. I didn’t realize how fast that inside was and then I got passed by Kenny [Roczen] there and AP [Aaron Plessinger] was also making time on me there. Yeah, a frustrating mistake losing both wheels on the landing of that tunnel jump.”
Behind the podium was a slew of storylines. Jason Anderson ended up fourth overall and certainly has the second race victory to hang his hat on, as well as being the fastest qualifier on the day and overall looking better in the bike. If not for a crash in the first turn of the first race, which resulted in him being ran over by Chase Sexton, perhaps Anderson also would have factored in for the victory in Arlington.
There’s also the story of Ken Roczen who one week removed from a rough 11th place finish in Oakland, looked much more like the Roczen of old with 2-6-4 scores that put him fifth overall. Roczen qualified well, and raced well, as he seemed to be right in the battle almost all night. Such is the nature of Triple Crowns that even a seemingly strong night for Roczen slots him fifth, but it was marked improvement over last week.
Aaron Plessinger ended up sixth which was his first result outside of the top five since Anaheim 2. A similar story to Roczen, Plessinger wen 6-5-5 and lamented that if he had figured things out in the first race, the night could have been different, but such is racing. Justin Barcia ended up in seventh behind him and things were going quite well for Barcia who stood to go 4-7-3 perhaps on the night before he launched over the berm after the whoops in the final race. Still, 4-7-7 doesn’t reflect how well Barcia looked, but seventh is where he ends up.
Now we roll into Daytona next week where the 450SX title race is as close as ever and we finally might actually have a true “the series doesn’t start until Daytona” type of year upon us. Daytona is practically Eli Tomac’s playground with his six career wins there but who knows what lays ahead with this series. After the chaos of tonight, anything is in play.
Arlington - 450SXFebruary 25, 2023
|1||Cooper Webb||Newport, NC United States||5 - 2 - 1||KTM 450 SX-F|
|2||Chase Sexton||La Moille, IL United States||3 - 3 - 2||Honda CRF450R|
|3||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO United States||1 - 4 - 6||Yamaha YZ450F|
|4||Jason Anderson||Edgewood, NM United States||8 - 1 - 3||Kawasaki KX450SR|
|5||Ken Roczen||Mattstedt Germany||2 - 6 - 4||Suzuki RM-Z450|
|1||Cooper Webb||Newport, NC||225|
|2||Eli Tomac||Cortez, CO||222|
|3||Chase Sexton||La Moille, IL||208|
|5||Jason Anderson||Edgewood, NM||180|
The 250SX East class saw their first Triple Crown of 2023 greet them in Arlington this weekend as Hunter Lawrence came in on the heels of two straight victories to start the campaign. Since Triple Crowns tend to provide a little more unique results as shown above from the 450SX class, much interest laid on whether Lawrence could remain on the top step of the podium with a curveball thrown his way.
The first race of the night suggested there was nothing to it. Triple Crown or not, Hunter Lawrence was here to win as he held off Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Nate Thrasher for much of the race and claimed victory. After that is where things got flipped upside-down a bit.
In Race 2, Thrasher’s teammate Jordon Smith holeshot and led early with Thrasher tailing right behind. Lawrence moved into third early and began closing on Thrasher. By the halfway mark, Thrasher versus Lawrence was quite the duel as they exchanged a few fender rubs. But then, Thrasher got sideways going up the tunnel jump and crossed from one side of the track to the other resulting in Hunter Lawrence landing on his back wheel. It spoiled the battle and effectively ended the race as Smith opened up a three second lead following the collision and won. Lawrence regrouped for third behind Thrasher which set up a dead heat in points between them going into the last race.
As the 250SX class fired into turn one for the final time of the evening, Hunter Lawrence washed his front end right in front of the field and collected Max Anstie who rolled on top of him. Both riders were left well down the order with a boatload of work to do. Thrasher led early and started pulling away while Michael Mosiman slid out from second a few laps in and collected Jordon Smith. Then Thrasher crashed all by himself in the whoops which let a surprise leader in Jeremy Martin sneak through. Martin would go on to win the final race, even though he didn’t even know he was in the lead, but it would be Thrasher who would hang on for the win as his third place sealed the deal. Thrasher didn’t win any of the races on the night, but his 2-2-3 scores edged out his teammate Smith’s 4-1-5 for the overall. It’s also a remarkable result as Thrasher has been dealing with a torn ACL that apparently isn’t slowing him down at all.
“We’re pretty limited on what we can do just trying to manage it,” Thrasher said of his ACL injury. “It’s been good. We’ve just been putting the laps in and doing the best we can and coming to the race weekend the best recovered. That’s pretty much all we can do. It sucks it happened in Houston and it’s a bummer, but we’ll be good. We’re just going to keep fighting. There’s no excuses. Everybody is dealing with something, so we’ll just keep pushing through it.”
It ended up being a Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 1-2 as Smith brought it home in second place behind Thrasher, but not without some fireworks. Smith had second place just about locked up when he went over the bars in the whoops on the final lap of the final race. He only lost one spot to his teammate Haiden Deegan, but Hunter Lawrence closed up right on him in what was effectively the battle for second overall. Smith held his ground though to finish fifth in the final race and secure second overall.
“The last few years have been tough for me. I mean really the last four or five years,” said Smith of his podium result. “It’s good to come back out here and get one of the race wins today and finish second. I just try to forget about all of that [past struggles], but after the race it’s nice to be back up here and talking to you guys again.”
Lawrence wrapped up the night in third after quite the roller coaster and two crashes. Similar to his brother Jett, the Triple Crown just didn’t seem to like Hunter, at least not after the first race. Still though, with all the crashing considered, Lawrence still walking away with third place is a mini-win as he retains the points lead and actually extended it by three points over Max Anstie who finished up in fifth overall.
“It’s really cool when you’re under a bike in the first turn,” joke Lawrence. “Getting back up, the bike was good enough to finish the race. The bracket on my clutch broke so I didn’t have any clutch. It was just, don’t stall it was first priority and then obviously don’t push and make a bonehead mistake and be worse off. It was just kind of damage control and bring it home.”
Tom Vialle earned fourth place overall with some wild scores of 5-9-2. The result is Vialle’s first top five finish in 250SX as he sits now in seventh in points, just five points behind Thrasher in third. Vialle was happy with his result and his riding for what was also his first ever Triple Crown and he’s excited for Daytona coming up.
Another guy who should be excited for Daytona is the aforementioned Anstie who picked up P5 on the night to retain second in the championship standings. Speed-wise, Anstie is certainly right there in the mix, but the crash with Hunter Lawrence in the third race really hurt his overall score on the night. The former MXGP star might feel a little more comfortable in the open setting of Daytona.
Jeremy Martin went 6-12-1 for sixth overall, but the win in the final race was a nice bonus for the veteran who’s slowly working back to his old self. Oh, and surprise to absolutely nobody, Martin is very excited for Daytona also.
As we head to Daytona now next week, Hunter Lawrence holds on to an 11-point lead in the championship which is rather substantial considering just 10 points cover second through seventh in the standings.
Arlington - 250SX EastFebruary 25, 2023
|1||Nate Thrasher||Livingston, TN United States||2 - 2 - 3||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Jordon Smith||Belmont, NC United States||4 - 1 - 5||Yamaha YZ250F|
|3||Hunter Lawrence||Landsborough Australia||1 - 3 - 6||Honda CRF250R|
|4||Tom Vialle||France||5 - 9 - 2||KTM 250 SX-F|
|5||Max Anstie||Newbury, England United Kingdom||3 - 4 - 9||Honda CRF250R|
|2||Nate Thrasher||Livingston, TN||116|
|3||Haiden Deegan||Temecula, CA||111|
|4||Jeremy Martin||Millville, MN||109|
|5||Max Anstie||Newbury, England||104|
Arlington also hosted the second Supercross Futures race of 2023 which was won once again by Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Daxton Bennick. Unlike at Anaheim 2 though, Bennick did not need to recover from a mid-pack start to pass into the lead because he just holeshot in Arlington and checked out. Just like Anaheim 2, Casey Cochran was the man to finish second to him with Preston Boespflug rounding out the podium.
“I changed suspension between those [A2 and Arlington],” said Bennick. “We worked on the bike a little bit and I think that helped a lot in the corners and with my whoops. That was the biggest bike change we made and then I obviously got a lot better too. Just starting to get up to speed.”
Julien Beaumer was one of the fastest riders on track again this weekend, but he donned a new look as he signed with KTM Orange Brigade between A2 and Arlington. Beaumer had a bad start in the short Futures main event though and fourth was all he could manage on the night.
Spare a thought for Evan Ferry as well who had a nasty crash in the first qualifying session on the dragons back that knocked him out cold. He would eventually walk off under his own power and later said that he has no other injuries from the crash other than a concussion, but still a tough go for Ferry of late as he just came back from surgery.
And that’s all from Arlington! Triple Crown racing delivered again, and we have some interesting championship dynamics heading to the world center of racing next week at Daytona International Speedway. We’ll see you then!
Arlington - 250SX FuturesFebruary 25, 2023
|1||Daxton Bennick||Morganton, NC United States||Yamaha YZ250F|
|2||Casey Cochran||Portsmouth, VA United States||Husqvarna FC 250|
|3||Preston Boespflug||Battle Ground, WA United States||KTM 250 SX-F|
|4||Julien Beaumer||Lake Havasu City, AZ United States||KTM 250 SX-F|
|5||Bryce Shelly||Telford, PA United States||Yamaha YZ250F|