Supercross made its second and final stop in Anaheim in 2023, this time with some Triple Crown action. So far this year, it's been all Eli Tomac and Jett Lawrence, despite some tough competition from Cooper Webb and R.J. Hampshire respectively. While Tomac has a good track record in Triple Crown events, Lawrence has historically struggled. Would this open up an opportunity for someone in the 250 West field? Or could someone in the 450 field, like Jason Anderson or Chase Sexton, get themselves in the mix with a win? Firstly though, some rough injury news in the 250 class.
Code Red For Team Green
Hard to envision a much worse start to 2023 for Pro Circuit Kawasaki than what they've had to deal with so far. Jett Reynolds was hurt going into the year, followed up by Austin Forkner having his season end seconds into Anaheim 1. Now just in the last few days, both of Mitch Payton's 250 East riders, Jo Shimoda and Seth Hammaker, have gone down with serious injuries. And although not on the team, so has Rockstar Husky's Jalek Swoll. As announced earlier in the week, Hammaker, who finished fourth in the 2021 West Coast championship, suffered a broken wrist in a practice crash, that will sideline him for at least the first couple of East Coast rounds this season.
Then things got worse on Friday, as it was announced that Jo Shimoda went down in a separate incident with a broken collarbone. Just like his running mate, this is expected to sideline him for at least a few rounds as well. But wait, there's more because Cameron McAdoo went down hard in the whoops during A2 qualifying and had to get carted to the back. He did end up coming back out for the second session but was nearly seven seconds off the pace from his best pass from earlier. Safe to say that Mitch Payton is cursed.
Ken Block Tribute
Alpinestars for years was partnered with Ken Block in the firesuit department, and at Anaheim 2, they made some custom kits for Eli Tomac, Chase Sexton, and Jason Anderson based on some of his best firesuits over the years. I think these turned out really good and wouldn't complain at all if these were more than just a one-off.
Daytime Program/Injury Notes:
- Red Bull KTM's Marvin Musquin is still out due to injury, along with Malcolm Stewart missing A2 via a midweek crash.
- Shane McElrath survives LCQ to transfer into the night show after a poor qualifying run.
- Julien Beumen qualifies fastest for 250 Futures opener. Daxton Bennick (Star Yamaha) wins Main Event.
- 250 Fastest Qualifier: No. 18 Jett Lawrence (57.998 Seconds)
- 450 Fastest Qualifier: No. 23 Chase Sexton (57.564 Seconds)
250 West Class Recap
1st (4-2-2) - No. 43 Levi Kitchen (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha)
The Triple Crown format has allowed riders to come home with a W without even winning a single race, and that was the case on Saturday for the Master Chef. It wasn't a perfect string of races for Kitchen, but with guys all around him making mistakes the entire night, he got the job done a different way and still takes home max points all the same. Kitchen also breaks through for his first career win in just his fifth career Supercross start, which definitely feels like the fastest in recent memory. Couldn't come at a better time too, especially after a 21st in San Diego.
2nd (3-6-1) - No. 18 Jett Lawrence (Honda HRC)
Just like last year, strings of mistakes come back to haunt the Jett in the Triple Crown format, on a night where he was certainly the fastest rider all day. Now the good news is that he still ends up second, but those extra three points would have been nice, especially with the struggles Hampshire had, along with McAdoo having to gut it out at under 100 percent.
5th (7-8-4) - No. 34 Max Vohland (Red Bull KTM)
This was as good a performance you could hope for out of Vohland after straight up not making the Main Event in San Diego. Nothing to write home about per se, but he put in his best work at the end, and was a top 10, borderline top 5 rider, all night. Ironic considering that he's finished fifth twice now in three rounds. If only San Diego had gone better, I feel like Vohland would be getting universal rave reviews right now in light of how 2022 went.
6th (8-7-5) - No. 48 Cameron McAdoo (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki)
'Season-saving performance' this early in the year may be a stretch, but McAdoo did himself a ton of favors gutting it out after his qualifying crash. Just like Vohland, he got better as things went along and put in his best work at the very end. His reward is that he only sits 16 points back of Lawrence for the points lead after three rounds. Sounds like a lot, but think of what the gap would be had McAdoo not lined up at all.
11th (1-22-13) - No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing)
Things were shaping up for Saturday to be massive for Hampshire after an opening Moto win, but it just wasn't meant to be. Multiple mistakes and run-ins, including right out of the gate in Moto 2 via getting jammed up by a crash in front of him put him outside of the top 10 for the rest of the night, as well as the overall standings. Those little mistakes add up, as Hampshire lost 11 points to Lawrence when he could have realistically been inside of 10 points of, and six to McAdoo, who is now second in points by one. Just wasn't meant to be I guess.
250 West Class Anaheim 2 Top 10
1st No. 43 Levi Kitchen (4-2-2)
2nd No. 18 Jett Lawrence (3-6-1)
3rd No. 40 Stilez Robertson (6-1-3)
4th No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburg (5-4-6)
5th No. 34 Max Vohland (7-8-4)
6th No. 48 Cameron McAdoo (8-7-5)
7th No. 74 Derek Kelley (10-5-7)
8th No. 33 Pierce Brown (2-13-8)
9th No. 69 Phill Nicoletti (12-3-19)
10th No. 79 Dylan Walsh (14-11-10)
250 West Class Points after Anaheim 2
1st No. 18 Jett Lawrence (75 Points)
2nd No. 48 Cameron McAdoo (59 Points)
3rd No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (58 Points)
4th No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburg (54 Points)
5th No. 40 Stilez Robertson (52 Points)
6th No. 56 Enzo Lopes (46 Points)
7th No. 43 Levi Kitchen (44 Points)
8th No. 69 Phil Nicoletti (44 Points)
9th No. 41 Derek Kelley (43 Points)
10th No. 79 Dylan Walsh (37 Points)
450 Class Recap
1st (1-5-1) - No. 23 Chase Sexton (Honda HRC)
Sexton let one slip through the cracks at A1, but luckily for him, didn't allow that to happen twice in a month. Even with a small error in the second Moto, Sexton was able to crack a top-five in the middle of two wins, in which he led 24 out of a possible 28 laps. Only Jason Anderson had the point in the bookend tilts otherwise.
Not that a third and a fifth before tonight were catastrophic, but Sexton couldn't afford to let Tomac snowball this quickly. All day I felt like he was the better of the two on speed, and the results ultimately represent that, which is huge. Just as big is that Sexton got to the top step of the podium before either Anderson or Webb. Being the first guy outside of Tomac to walk home with a win has to be a massive confidence boost, and it will be interesting to see if Sexton can win two Supercross Main Events in a row for the first time on a 450.
2nd (5-1-3) - No. 21 Jason Anderson (Monster Energy Kawasaki)
I feel confident in saying that this is the performance that gets things going for El Hombre despite not winning. He looked good enough in the latter two Motos and spent a healthy amount of time out front (18 laps). It was ultimately the first Moto that did Anderson in though. Despite finishing fifth, he only occupied a spot in the top five for all of about 30 seconds, having to claw his way from an eighth-place start.
As crazy as it sounds, Anderson's start to 2023 is better than his 2022 start by a point, 55 points this year to 54 last year through three races. Also worth noting is that Anderson was fifth after three rounds in 2022, and is in the exact same spot this year. The wins are gonna come soon I'd imagine.
3rd (2-3-4) - No. 94 Ken Roczen (HEP Motorsports Progressive Ecstar Suzuki)
For those keeping score at home, this was Roczen's first Supercross podium on a Suzuki dating back to his East Rutherford win in 2016. I was telling a friend who was at Angel Stadium that I felt like Roczen was gonna come home with the win after the second Moto. He was running that well, it was just that he couldn't get the perfect start. That wouldn't be the case either in Moto 3, but despite that, Roczen brought home three top-five finishes for the podium. His battle with Eli Tomac in that second Moto was art, by the way, Supercross at its finest if you would.
6th (2-3-13) - No. 1 Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha)
You don't see Eli Tomac make the big mistake often, if ever, but an overly aggressive triple-in pass attempt on Cooper Webb did him in during the third Moto. The good news is Tomac came away visually unscathed, but some bike issues didn't allow him to make a real late race charge.
I don't think he would have caught, let alone beat Sexton last night, but this felt like a very ill-advised move by Tomac. Looking at the lap and segment times from that race, he was going to get Webb realistically inside of three laps. Say he gets that pass, you're probably talking about a podium night as opposed to a sixth, which is the difference of a half dozen points. Doesn't sound like much, but look at last year's Motocross Championship with Sexton.
450 Class Anaheim 2 Top 10
1st No. 23 Chase Sexton (1-5-1)
2nd No. 21 Jason Anderson (5-1-3)
3rd No. 94 Ken Roczen (2-3-4)
4th No. 2 Cooper Webb (7-4-2)
5th No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (4-6-5)
6th No. 1 Eli Tomac (3-2-13)
7th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (8-7-7)
8th No. 51 Justin Barcia (11-8-6)
9th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (6-11-8)
10th No. 17 Joey Savatgy (10-9-9)
450 Class Points after Anaheim 2
1st No. 1 Eli Tomac (69 Points)
2nd No. 23 Chase Sexton (65 Points)
3rd No. 2 Cooper Webb (65 Points)
4th No. 94 Ken Roczen (58 Points)
5th No. 21 Jason Anderson (55 Points)
6th No. 14 Dylan Ferrandis (54 Points)
7th No. 51 Justin Barcia (48 Points)
8th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (45 Points)
9th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (43 Points)
10th No. 45 Colt Nichols (39 Points)
Anaheim 2 PulpMX Industry Idiots Fantasy Team
450 Class: Ken Roczen (All-Star +4), Cade Clason (+11), Justin Starling (+10), Christian Craig (+2)
250 Class: Enzo Lopes (All-Star +4), Levi Kitchen (+2), Jerry Robin (+11), Dylan Walsh (+4)
FFL: Jett Lawrence (successful) and Ken Roczen (unsuccessful)
Points Total: 254
Next Up: Houston, Texas (NRG Stadium)
Main Image via Honda HRC