Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton took the Round 15 win in a rare daytime Monster Energy AMA Supercross race in Nashville, Tennessee.
Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac led early but earned second at the checkered flag at Nissan Stadium. Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki’s Ken Roczen delivered another podium performance and earned third place points toward both the 17-round 2023 Supercross season as well as the inaugural 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship.
Aaron Plessinger didn’t make this round due to injury and now his Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM team-mate Cooper Webb is under a cloud after crashing out of the opening heat hard enough to have to sit out the night.
When the gate dropped for the Eastern Regional 250SX Class, Hunter Lawrence grabbed the Holeshot but Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Jordon Smith quickly charged up to him. In the third corner Smith bumped his way past and into the lead ahead of Lawrence and Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin.
A minute and a half into the 15-minute plus one lap race Smith held first ahead of Lawrence, Smith, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda, and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Haiden Deegan.
With a 49-point lead and only one Eastern Regional 250SX Class round remaining after Nashville, Lawrence could finish as low as 20 and still claim the title. But Lawrence looked like he wanted to go out with a win, and hounded Smith up front. Shimoda moved into third behind them and Deegan fought to get past Martin for fourth.
With 9:30 remaining on the race clock Smith overcooked a turn in the sand section and went off the track and into the Tuff Blox. He didn’t fall, but the mistake and correction to get back on the track cost him two positions.
Lawrence took over the lead but suddenly Shimoda was on a tear and looking like he might soon fight for the front spot. Fire Power Honda’s Max Anstie, the winner at the previous round, had made his way into sixth and reached Deegan’s rear wheel just before Deegan made his own move and passed Martin for fourth place.
Late in the race Lawrence had built a comfortable lead while Shimoda, Smith, and Deegan ran close enough that each of their positions were in jeopardy. The riders circled the final laps without major mistakes.
Lawrence brought home the race win and with it his first Monster Energy AMA Supercross title.
Shimoda earned his first podium of the season after missing most of it due to injury, and Smith took the final podium spot.
“I just want to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart,” Hunter Lawrence said on the podium after the race. “Everyone that is with me now was with me when I was at my lowest of lows, so this is incredible. I can’t say I dreamed of this as a kid, because I didn’t know this was possible. I’m choked up; this is just surreal. This weekend has been incredible—the perfect day. I just want to celebrate this with everyone I love and care about—the whole team. This means the world.”
Eli Tomac grabbed a clear Holeshot and sprinted early to establish some breathing room on the pack of Tank Masters Red Line Oil Next Level KTM’s Kevin Moranz, Team Honda HRC’s Colt Nichols, Chase Sexton, Twisted Tea Suzuki Progressive Insurance’s Kyle Chisholm and Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia.
Team Tedder Monster Energy Mountain Motorsport’s Justin Hill got an incredible drive down the first rhythm lane and was into third place before the second corner. Absent was Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb, second in the championship points; Webb had been taken out of the event earlier by a tough crash in his Heat Race.
Tomac distanced himself from the pack as Sexton moved past Justin Hill to take over second just three minutes into the race. Sexton sat over four seconds back but set his sights on Tomac. A minute later Tomac had a near-crash in the whoops. The challenging track had created a lot of crashes through qualifying and racing. Tomac’s scare convinced him to lower his aggression, as he reported on the podium after the race.
Just over five minutes into the 20-minute plus one lap race Barcia moved forward into third place. Up front, Sexton steadily cut down the lead. The next few laps shook up the race as Sexton made it to Tomac’s rear fender just as Barcia crashed hard off the Dragon’s Back. Barcia was out just as Roczen nabbed third from Justin Hill.
From there the race leaders held their spots on the slick, dry track. Sexton earned his fourth win of the season and moved into second in the championship standings. Tomac lost three points to Chase but extended his points lead to 18 due to Webb earning zero in Nashville.
Only two rounds remain in the season. The 450SX Class racers line up again inside Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado next Saturday, May 6th before the 2023 Supercross Championship Final Presented by Utah Sports Commission at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 13th. Two champions remain to be crowned, one in the 450SX Class and one in the Western Regional 250SX Class.
The two rounds will also pay points toward the all-new SuperMotocross World Championship which encompasses the Supercross season, the AMA Pro Motocross season, two Playoff races and a Final to determine the sport’s first SuperMotocross World Champion in September.
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