The Denver Supercross round of the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship brought another wild night of racing. The Denver SX was the 16th round (of 17) for the 450SX Class, and the eighth round (of nine) for the 250SX West Region round.
At the penultimate round—just one week after his brother Hunter clinched the 250SX East Region title one round early—we saw Jett Lawrence clinch the 250SX West Region title one round early as well. The 250SX main event winner was RJ Hampshire, who battled with Levi Kitchen in route to earning his second career 250SX win. In the premier class, Chase Sexton claimed his fifth win of the 2023 season as Eli Tomac suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, ending his 2023 season, and shifting the 450SX points lead over to Sexton with just the finale remaining. Lots of riders commented on Tomac’s injury, as it is a tough blow to the supercross season (as well as the upcoming AMA Pro Motocross Championship). Both classes saw career-best finishes from several riders.
Justin Hill | 4th
Shane McElrath | 5th
Grant Harlan | 9th (also did so after dislocating his shoulder last week in Nashville)
Anthony Rodriguez | 11th
Josh Cartwright | 12th (also won the Yamaha/PulpMX LCQ Challenge exhibition race on Friday)
Michael Hicks | 15th (first ever 450SX main event)
Devin Simonson | 16th (third straight 450SX main event)
Lane Shaw | 19th (first ever 450SX main event)
Here is what riders had to say about their respective days.
Note: Some quotes are from team press releases, some are from rider social media posts, and some are from the post-race media scrum/post-race interviews. We compiled as many quotes as we could find.
Chase Sexton | 1st
“I think some of my crashes earlier in the season were caused by being negative and not having confidence in myself to win these races. In the middle of the season, I was definitely questioning whether I could lead and win an entire main event. I had some time to reset after Seattle and just clear my head. We got a little bit of testing done and I felt super solid on the bike. You have to try and stay positive when things like that are happening, and I knew I could dig myself out of it. It’s never over until it’s over. Obviously, we have another round, so we’ll just have to go there and do the best we can.”
Sexton posted on Instagram:
“Man what a night in Denver! Was under the weather all day, but never gave up and brought home the win.
Super bummed to see Eli go out the way he did, there’s no one I’d rather take this title down to the wire with than him. Get well soon ET 👊🏼”
Ken Roczen | 2nd
"Denver, what a day! I couldn't have been any happier with how my bike was running. The suspension, everything, all the work has really paid off, and we had a crazy main event. Unfortunately, I went down in the first turn, and in the second turn, I got caught up as well. I just had to come through the field. I ended up in second, even gaining on the leader at one point. I think in terms of my riding this is probably the best I've ridden in a long time. I'm very thankful for today. I'm super stoked about the team and how we've handled everything. It's a little bit surreal because it's been a long time since I've had a supercross season like this one, where I'm actually getting better towards the end of the season. I'm genuinely enjoying it and trying to take the momentum into every single weekend. Yeah, I'm stoked with everything."
Adam Cianciarulo | 3rd
“I can’t even begin to describe how incredible this podium finish feels. The team and I have been working tirelessly to get here and to finally be standing on the podium again, after so much hard work, is just surreal. The journey to get here has been full of ups and downs but none of it would be possible without the amazing support from my team and everyone around me. This is a major accomplishment for us, but we still have bigger goals in mind and we’re going to keep working until I’m back to being as competitive as I know I can be.”
Cianciarulo posted on Instagram:
“Shoot.. It’s been a long time since I’ve stood on the podium. I’m pretty good with words, but the path I’ve walked the last two years is difficult to articulate. There were a lot of things I needed to learn, a lot of demons I needed to conquer. I’m unsure how long it would have taken me to do that if it wasn’t for all this. When you love something enough, you will figure it out at all costs and find a way. My goal isn’t success anymore; it’s to do quality work and treat people well. Whatever I get as a result of that—I can accept with a smile. I can’t say enough about the people around me who have supported and lifted me up, including all of you. I’ll remember this one.
I can’t wrap this up without saying a few words about Eli. Hated to see him go out like that after such a great season. I’m not sure what his future plans are, but regardless— I have a lot of respect for him and his career, as I think we all do. I hope to share the track with him again, and of course, I hope he heals well. You’re the man, 3!”
Justin Hill | 4th
Justin Hill posted on Instagram:
“4th in the main at a mile high!
My best finish in the 450s so needless to say I’m proud of what we are doing! …. But I want that 📦 big time.. we’re bringing it to SLC! HUGE”
Shane McElrath | 5th
"We came to race tonight. We had a really strong week this week, kind of going back to the basics. I've been fighting some change a little bit, and this week I trusted in the team, and it was really great. I felt like I raced hard and did my job, and that's something I've been looking to achieve for three years since I went to the 450 class. All day today I felt I was getting better; I never changed suspension or anything all day. I'm really happy with feeling great on the bike, happy with racing hard, and it felt really good to get out and lead for a bit in the main."
Dean Wilson | 6th
Wilson posted on Instagram:
“P-6 in Denver SurvivalCross…. Good day considering what I was dealing with as I almost didn’t ride that day due to some health issues I need to figure out. Going for tests this week but none the less we survived Denver with a decent finish. Thank you all for the support as always💯”
Josh Hill | 7th
Josh Hill posted on Instagram:
“First full season in almost a decade, felt good to get back in opening ceremonies after so many years sitting in the stands.”
Kyle Chisholm | 8th
"The bike felt really great all day. Everybody struggles here with the altitude. The bikes are down on power for everybody, but the team did a great job getting the bike’s power pretty close to normal. We changed gearing and some other engine changes to make the bike as good as possible, and I was really happy with the changes. The suspension was working great, so great job for the team getting the bike really competitive; it was a great bike for us here today. I ripped a holeshot in the heat race, which was impressive. I led for a little bit until Kenny, my teammate, passed me right at the end of lap one. I ended up fourth in the heat, and it was awesome to be out front for a little bit. I didn't get the start I needed in the main event, but I worked my way up. I struggled a little bit with my breathing, like I typically do here with the altitude, but just rode a very steady race, and ended up eighth, which was good, and that much closer to the top five. Overall for the team, to have three riders in the top ten was awesome. It shows how well the team did in giving us what we needed here this weekend. So overall I'm happy and looking to finish strong in Salt Lake next week."
Said Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki, presented by Progressive Insurance, team manager Larry Brooks:
"The Denver supercross went really well. I'm super proud of my team. All the riders qualified straight out of their heat race, with great starts, and strong finishes. In the 250 main event, Dilan Schwartz rode really well, one of his better finishes of the year. And then in the 450 main event, Shane McElrath got into the lead, led it for a bit, and finished fifth, his best finish ever in the 450 class. Kyle Chisholm had a mid-pack start and finished eighth. And Ken Roczen fell in the first turn and came back to second place. That was an amazing ride. I'm still a little bit in awe at how fast he went, how great all our bikes worked, and how well our riders and team did. We had three Suzukis in the top ten, and that hasn't been achieved in a long time. The team's been working very hard, and I think it is all paying off right now, so I'm super pumped."
Grant Harlan | 9th
Harlan posted on Instagram:
“Its crazy what can happen in a week. I went from thinking my season was over to a top 10 in 450 Supercross! Big thank you to @jim_bui for getting my shoulder strong enough to ride a dirtbike 😂
Time for the last one this weekend in Salt Lake”
Justin Starling | 10th
Starling posted on Instagram:
“Improvements made in Denver!
Heat P5, Main Event P10
Great weekend with amazing people. Season finale coming up this weekend, let’s give it all we have before the summer break!”
Anthony Rodriquez | 11th
Rodriquez posted on Instagram:
“Lots of positives to take away from last round. My speed has gotten much better, being able to get the 6th fastest lap of the race says a lot! See you all at Salt Lake city this weekend.
🇻🇪 Vamos por un buen camino! Mi velocidad ha mejorado mucho, logre obtener la 6ta vuelta más rápida de la carrera, eso habla por si solo! Nos vemos en Salt Lake este fin de semana.
🇧🇷 Estamos em um bom caminho! Minha velocidade melhorou muito, consegui fazer a 6ª volta mais rápida da corrida, isso fala por si! Vejo você em Salt Lake City neste fim de semana.”
Josh Cartwright | 12th
Cartwright posted on Instagram:
“P-12 in Denver! I would say Denver is now one of my favorite rounds! 😃 Amazing weekend winning the @pulpmx Privateer Race and then getting my career best in the 450 class! The track was very challenging with the hard pack dirt and needing to be patient. Thank you to @fordbrothersracing for being this week’s helmet sponsor! The USA flag themed helmet done by @gatedrop_designs looked awesome! 🤤 Last round next weekend in SLC, let’s end on a high note! 🙌”
Cade Clason | 13th
Clason posted on Instagram:
“Man what a fun weekend, Main was brutal, getting closer to 100% and that’s all that matters to me. We can work with speed and I feel like I have that for the most part.
Just want to give another shout out to @pulpmx for the race he puts on, I’ve been a huge supporter of this race forever, so just grateful I was able to be in it, to not just help myself out in life, but also my buddy @johnshort43 a little.
Fredrik Noren | 14th
Noren posted on Instagram:
“P-14 yesterday, it has been a wild weekend for me and I’m happy to get through this weekend. We have 1 more to go so I’m excited to finish off the SX season strong. Thanks team!”
Devin Simonson | 16th
Simonson posted on Instagram:
“Denver✅ fun weekend racing dirt bikes! 3rd main event in a row on the 450 and even got a sweet haircut😂had an ok start in the main event and had a pretty good pace the whole time. Ran P15 for for almost the whole Moto and ended up going down with 3 laps to go and ended up P16. @partzilla @teamprmx”
Tristan Lane | 17th
Lane posted on Instagram:
“Good times in Denver! 🏔️
First I’d like to start off by thanking @pulpmx and his sponsors for putting on the privateer race Friday and giving us a cool opportunity to earn some money 👊🏼
The altitude had me contemplating my life decisions a few times but I got better through the day and gained a lot of valuable experience this weekend. 😂
I ended up winning the last chance qualifier and finished 17th in the main event. I rode tight in the heat race and the main so lots of areas to improve on but I’ll give it another whirl this weekend in Salt Lake for the last round! 🤠🤙🏼
Seriously, I never thought it would be possible to race Supercross growing up…. THANK YOU to all of my sponsors and supporters that make this possible for me.”
Logan Karnow | 18th
posted on Instagram:
“Denver went off🍻 Stoked on getting straight out of the heat again and riding a strong main event battling for 15th with 2 laps to go until COMPLETELY hitting a wall☠️ P-18 on the night.. Let’s end this SX season strong🙏🏼”
Lane Shaw | 19th
Shaw posted on Instagram:
“I DID IT🙌🏼⚡️ FiNALLY punched my ticket to my first 450 Main event! Lost for words to be honest, A lot of blood sweat, and tears went into this moment… & let me tell you.. it was worth every damn second ⚡️. A DREAM COME TRUE🙌🏼 A huge thank you to every single person in my corner that helps me make my program happen! So happy to make it happen this weekend with my Dad at the races, and thank you for everything @brennanp120 for keeping me moving forward & the bikes in one piece 🤙🏼 What a weekend 🤠⚡️🙌🏼”
Kevin Moranz | 20th
Moranz posted on Instagram:
“Had such a good main going until my bike shut off on me in the whoops. Didn’t sound like it locked up, just shut off. Pushed it to the mechanics area, took the gas cap off (figured vapor lock.. etc) kept trying to start it and about 2 minutes later it just fired up. Probably shouldn’t have went back to racing but knew I needed the points so got back out there and came away with 3 points instead of 1. Thankful it didn’t shut off over any big jumps.. we will be ready to fight forward in Salt Lake🙌 P/C: @browndogwilson
Thanks to my team @teamnextlevelracing and @kfagala for all the hard work!”
Colt Nichols | 21st
“Denver was going pretty good until it wasn’t. I made really good progress all day. I’ve been feeling more like myself on the bike the past two weeks. I just got tangled with another rider going for third place; it was a weird racing incident. I felt like I had a good shot of getting on the podium tonight, but I’ve just got to keep pushing. I’m a little banged up but excited to go racing next weekend.”
Eli Tomac | 22nd
Tomac suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon early in the 450SX main event. He underwent surgery and provided an update on Monday afternoon. Watch his full video below.
Jared Lesher | 7th in LCQ, DNQ for main event
Lesher posted on Instagram:
“Denver is a wrap. Friday, I qualified for the @pulpmx Privateer LCQ challenge. Had a few minutes to learn the track and then race after press. Got a terrible start, but was able to fight up to 11th. Was a good time as always, huge thanks to Steve for putting that race on for the privateers.
Saturday was the regularly scheduled race day. The track was slick and soft in spots, but a hard base made for some slick areas around the track. The first practice was ok since I had rode the track the day before. I was in A group so I could pace and learn from some of the best in the world that helps.
As the day went on the track broke down, but line formed, which made the track fast, but the corners got really rough. We knew what time we needed, and in Q2 I was able to do better than the goal, but it was only good enough for 29th.
Heat race I had a terrible start, and then in the second corner was ran high and had to check up, and was dead last going into the long rhythm the first lap. Fought back and managed 13th.
LCQ I got a decent top 10 start, but the lead pack took off, and I had my own battles behind them, fought hard all race but was only able to manage 7th.
Overall it was a good weekend, the altitude is definitely a struggle for the bike and body, but overall pleased with the results.
Thank you to all the sponsors that make it all possible.”
RJ Hampshire | 1st
“It was an awesome day. I'm super-stoked for the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing Team, and to knock one of these wins off before the season is over was huge. We've built a lot of momentum; man; I don't take these for granted. I know how much work goes into this from the team side and myself, this motorcycle, and all our supporters. It's just really nice to give them a win... a little payback for all they do for us. I wasn't that fast in qualifying and didn't win my heat race. But I just had that feeling today that I would get it done. I had that big mistake about midway through the main event, but I really put a charge on there at the end and at least gave myself an opportunity to have a shot at the win. Sure enough, we pulled it off.”
Levi Kitchen | 2nd
“It was a good night. I got a pretty good start and got around (Max) Vohland early. I had a little bit of a lead, but RJ was closing in. He was pretty close, and then I kind of forced him into a little bit of a mistake. I had a good gap, but I got into some lappers and didn’t ride the greatest, and he closed it back in. Overall, I’m pretty stoked on the day. It was good racing, and we raced each other pretty clean, so it was fun. We keep learning. So second place and another podium, we’ll take it and move on to Salt Lake for the shootout.”
Said Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing 250 team manager Jensen Hendler:
“Denver was a good race for us. Levi qualified well. He still qualified sixth, even though he had a muscle cramp in the last session. We went into the heat with a third gate pick, got a great start, and won the heat. In the main, he got off to another great start and found himself in a battle with RJ (Hampshire) for the win. He ended up second on the night but led laps and had a good race. We’re excited to have the whole crew in Salt Lake for the finale.”
Jett Lawrence | 3rd
“The heat race didn’t go as planned. One guy went left, I went left, and I just had nowhere to go. I was happy to at least qualify though. In the main event, the ruts after the gate were wrecked, and there were only a few good ones left. I found a decent one but just spun getting on the dirt, and there went my start! I knew I only needed 10th or better, so I could take my time and not push it. Once I got into third and saw where the other guys were, there wasn’t much traction left in the dirt, and I didn't want to push it. We didn’t quite equal Hunter when he won his championship, but we’re still happy to walk away with the number 1 plate.”
Said Honda HRC team manager Lars Lindstrom:
“This will probably go down as one of the most difficult mixes of emotions for any race that I’ve ever been involved in. First and foremost, my hat goes off to Jett on winning his fourth consecutive 250 championship—simply incredible, and I’m so excited to see him join the 450 ranks! He was in a class of his own this season, and it’s perfect timing for him to move up. In the 450 class, it has been shocking how many riders have gotten injured in the last few weeks, and it was terrible to see what happened to Eli. He’s a true legend in our sport, and I wish him a speedy recovery. Chase got his fifth win of the season, showing again that he’s deserving of any success that’s coming to him. It’s a long, grueling season, and he’s been strong throughout. Next weekend will be very interesting, that’s for sure.”
Enzo Lopes | 4th
Lopes on Instagram:
“Não sabia nem por onde começar a escrever, então acho que vou deixar as fotos e vídeos falarem por si só. Que dia incrível. Melhor volta. Cerimônia de abertura. Vitória na heat. Deus é bom o tempo todo, e só tenho a agradecer por ter sido escolhido pra viver isso tudo. Essa foi por mim, e por vocês. Nenhum sonho é grande demais! 🇧🇷 // What a day for myself and the team in Denver. P1 in qualifying, then to go and win my first ever heat race was unreal. I got sick on Wednesday and with the altitude it compromised a lot of my breathing in the main. I still had a day that I will never forget. Thank you @clubmx for giving me the best bike possible! One more to go 😄”
Mitchell Oldenburg | 5th
Oldenburg posted on Instagram:
“Solid weekend! Led some laps in the heat race, P5 in the main. Altitude was brutal on the bikes and body, but we fought hard!”
Max Vohland | 6th
"I got off to a great start in the Main and went into the early lead, but I made some mistakes on lap three and then went down. After that, I just pushed as hard as I could to get back to sixth position, where I rounded out the race. Not what we wanted this weekend and I was really expecting a lot more of myself – I am really looking forward to making amends in the final race of Supercross season next weekend. I really want to finish out on the Salt Lake podium."
Derek Kelley | 7th
“Solid night at Mile High Stadium 💪🏻 p-7 in the main but we were only a few seconds out of the top 4! Huge thanks to everyone that makes it possible”
Carson Mumford | 8th
“I had a good start to the evening, leading laps in my heat and running near the front during the Main Event. Unfortunately, little mistakes throughout the race allowed others to get by me and hindered my ability to make up any positions towards the end. The team and I will focus on riding clean laps, mistake-free during this week of practice, and come out for the final round next weekend ready to battle for a top-five finish.”
Cole Thompson | 9th
Thompson posted on Instagram:
“Denver SX ✅ onto the final round next weekend”
Robbie Wageman | 10th
"Overall it was a great day. The track was awesome all day and night, even with the super slick conditions. It was pretty tricky in the main, but we ended up P-10 on the night! I'm looking forward to the last round in Salt Lake City."
Dilan Schwartz | 11th
"It was a good night for me, my best result of the season so far. I'm super happy with that. My riding has improved, and I've gained a lot of confidence. I made it through every round so far, and that was a big goal at the beginning of the season; I'm super happy with that, super happy with the night, and looking forward to next weekend."
Derek Drake | 12th
"Denver was good. It was a solid night. I just need better starts to run up front with those guys! The bike and track were good, so I'm looking forward to next weekend."
Said BarX Suzuki team manager Buddy Antunez:
"The BarX Suzuki team was solid at the Denver Supercross. Our Suzukis ran great at the mile high city. We went up two teeth on the rear sprocket to cope with the thin air. Robbie and Derek were happy, rode well, and went on to a tenth and 12th result in the main."
Mitchell Harrison | 13th
Harrison posted on Instagram:
“P13 in Denver, definitely a disappointment. Excited for Salt lake 🏔️”
Max Miller | 14th
Miller posted on Instagram:
“Denver was a good one! Felt good in practice qualifying P.15. Got off to an awesome start in the heat race. I pushed a little wide in the first turn but ran 4th for a few laps and ended up with a 7th in the heat. Had another good start in the main running inside the top 10 for a bit. Put in some really consistent laps and finished 14th in the Main! Onto Salt Lake City 🤙🏽”
Hunter Yoder | 15th
Yoder posted on Instagram:
“Denver Sx Recap 🏔
Not what we wanted this weekend. Felt good in the morning qualifying P9 going into the heat races. Unfortunately got together with @jettson18 on the start and we both went down. I got hit super hard on my left elbow and rib area and wasn’t sure if I was gonna race the rest of the night. Toughed it out for the lcq but by the time the main came around I was in a lot of pain so couldn’t do much from there.
On another note big thank you to @pulpmx for letting me race the lcq race on Friday! Had some fun battles and ended up with a p4 after losing my front break in the 4th corner 😂”
Geran Stapleton | 17th
Stapleton posted on Instagram:
“Denver, fun weekend having @gypsytalespodcast help out, was cool to see how many people came up to say something about the podcast so a big thankyou to Jase! One round to go, always grateful to @oneupvans for the support and Lee at #automotivespecialties for replacing the radiator in the van this week to keep us on the road”
Dominique Thury | 18th
Thury posted on Instagram:
“I enjoyed racing this past weekend in Denver! Starting to feel like my old self again…got a little bit wild in the first lap of the main and was dead last after that and only came back to 18th but overall it was a really good day with a lot of positives and finally a main again. One more to go! 🤙🏻”
Luke Kalaitzian | 22nd
Kalaitzian posted on Instagram:
“Best qualifying of the year ✅ transfer straight to the main ✅ rookie mistake in the main ✅still plucking away and ready to give it another shot at SLC!”