Team Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton took the win at round four of the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The first of three Triple Crown events in 2023 delivered night-long racing thrills with three Main Events in each class. Main Event finishing positions combine to earn event points toward the 17-round Monster Energy AMA Supercross season as well as the inaugural 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship series.
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson, the 2018 Supercross Champion, earned the runner-up spot at the second race held at the Anaheim venue this year. Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki’s Ken Roczen nabbed the final spot on the podium and was the most consistent of the top racers. The Western Regional 250SX Class delivered a first-time winner when Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Levi Kitchen earned the 250SX Class win in only his fifth supercross race.
Chase Sexton grabbed the lead of 450SX Class Main Event 1 ahead of Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, Ken Roczen, and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Dylan Ferrandis. Roczen was quickly into second place. Sexton and Roczen put a comfortable gap on the rest of the field early in the 12-minute plus one lap race. Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac was in sixth at the start and moving forward. It took him five and half minutes to reach then pass Cianciarulo; Tomac held the third place spot to the finish. There was an exciting battle around Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb through most of the first race. As he and Ferrandis caught and passed Cianciarulo, Jason Anderson reached the pack. On the final lap Anderson contacted Webb in the corner after the whoops. Webb went down and Anderson rode off to capture fifth place. Cianciarulo took sixth ahead of Webb in seventh.
In 450SX Class Main Event 2 Tomac and Webb bumped just out of the gate. Anderson took the holeshot ahead of Roczen, Cianciarulo, and Sexton. Sexton was the rider on the move but an early mistake dropped him from fourth to eighth. Three and a half minutes into the race the top three, Anderson, Roczen, and Red Bull KTM’s Aaron Plessinger were packed together and had pulled a gap on the rest of the field. Plessinger moved into second but Roczen immediately counter attacked and took back the spot. A half lap later Plessinger crashed and Tomac took over the third place spot and soon applied pressure on Roczen for second. Roczen held strong until he slid out exiting a turn, giving an easy pass for Tomac. The top three looked set until Cooper Webb reached Roczen’s rear fender. The Suzuki rider had his third intense battle of the race, successfully holding off Webb to the end. The finishing order was Anderson, Tomac, Roczen, and Webb. With one 450SX Class race to go, Tomac and Roczen were tied for the overall lead with five points. Anderson and Sexton each held six points. The event win was there for the taking to any of the four racers.
Jason Anderson grabbed the Main Event 3 holeshot ahead of Webb, Sexton, and Tomac. Roczen was in ninth at the holeshot stripe. Sexton was quickly into second place and the win for the night’s overall looked to be between Anderson and Sexton. Two and a half minutes into the race Tomac made a surge to get around Webb but a Tomac mistake in one of the track’s main rhythm sections allowed Webb to hold the position. Two laps later Tomac jumped off line and crashed hard in the same rhythm section. He remounted in fourteenth but was clearly not charging. Further up the track, Sexton and Anderson traded the lead back and forth with Sexton finally making a pass stick. Anderson would face Webb in the closing laps, surrendering the second place spot to the KTM rider after nearly crashing on the slick dirt. Sexton won the Main Event and took the overall victory for the night. It was Sexton’s first Triple Crown win and his second 450SX Class win.
Main Event 1 of the Western Regional 250SX Class kicked off the stadium event when Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire emerged from the first corner with the holeshot. Levi Kitchen, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Stilez Robertson, and Smartop MotoConcepts Racing Honda’s Mitchell Oldenburg were right behind. Halfway through the opening lap of the 10-minute plus one lap race Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence was into third and pushing to catch Hampshire and Kitchen. Less than two minutes in Lawrence got around Kitchen. A battle for the lead was developing when Lawrence suddenly high-sided exiting a turn and was flicked off his bike. He remounted in eighth place and was able to pass his way back to third behind Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Pierce Brown. Title-contender Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Cameron McAdoo finished the first race in eighth, riding slightly off the pace after a tough crash in qualifying.
Main Event 2 in the 250SX Class was packed with drama. Right at the drop of the gate Lawrence moved over on Hampshire, putting the Main Event 1 winner into nearly dead last entering the first corner. Muc-Off FXR ClubMX Yamaha’s Phil Nicoletti grabbed the holeshot and put down a fast pace. Lawrence went down on the opening lap and Hampshire got caught up the crash, losing back a few places he’d made early. Nicoletti lead Kitchen, Robertson and Red Bull KTM’s Max Vohland while Hampshire fought back from 16th and Lawrence from 22nd.
Three minutes into the race Nicoletti held a 5.6 second lead. Then Hampshire went down hard when his hand came off the handlebars while blasting through the sand section. Hampshire was back up but riding slowly and he eventually pulled out of the race. Shortly after, Pierce Brown crashed in the whoops. He was slow to remount but re-joined the racing to finish thirteenth. With three minutes left on the race clock, Lawrence had reached tenth place. With two laps to go Lawrence contacted McAdoo in a tight bowl turn. Lawrence bobbled and lost a position. At the checkers, Robertson took the win followed by his teammate Levi Kitchen with Nicoletti in third. Lawrence crossed the line in sixth place. After two races the overall positions had Kitchen in the lead ahead of Robertson, with Oldenburg and Lawrence tied for third with one final race to determine the final order.
Jett Lawrence grabbed a big holeshot in Main Event 3 with Kitchen tucking into second place. Kitchen needed only to stay in second place to take his first supercross victory. By the midpoint, Lawrence still led and Kitchen remained in second with a comfortable gap on AEO Powersports KTM Racing’s Joshua Varize in third place. Kitchen kept a steady pace and brought home second place in the race to earn the win at the Anaheim event. Lawrence earned second place points and Stilez Robertson took home third overall.
The racers line up again next Saturday night at round five at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The Western Regional 250SX Class now takes a two-weekend break as Houston marks round one of the Eastern Regional 250SX Class. The Houston race pays points for that regional series as well as for the SuperMotocross World Championship 250 class.
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Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.