Not the ending to the year that many expected, but a relatively low-stakes Supercross finale was in store out in Salt Lake City. The Lawrence brothers have already wrapped up their respective 250 Championships, and we're set for one last duel while both are in the 250 class. Didnt get a great chance to see that happen at East Rutherford with the monsoon conditions, but even with some shaky weather on the horizon out west, we had one last shot to see the two go at it. Keeping up the good vibes for Honda HRC, Chase Sexton was going to win the 450 Championship no matter what on Saturday, after Eli Tomac's horrific injury just a week ago in Denver. But could someone like Adam Cianciarulo, Aaron Plessinger, or perhaps even Justin Hill steal a win at the buzzer?
Daytime Program/Injury Notes:
- Track was very slick for the SX Futures Championship race about an hour out from the Heat Races.
- 250 West Fastest Qualifier: No. 1W Jett Lawrence (47.052) (At least three-tenths faster than every other rider in the west session. Would have been third fastest as a 250 East rider).
- 250 East Fastest Qualifier: No. 1E Hunter Lawrence (46.572) (He and second fastest qualifier Jordon Smith were separated by .021 seconds. Third and Fourth fastest qualifiers Jo Shimoda and Jeremy Martin were separated by .016).
- 450 Fastest Qualifier: No. 23 Chase Sexton (46.751) (Top six qualifiers all ran inside of 44.950, and the top nine ran inside of 45.975).
- ARay is back for one last rodeo before he calls it a career. Congrats and best of luck in whatever comes next!!!
Heat Racing Roundup
East guys were on the clock first in the 250 class, and the usual suspects of Haiden Deegan, Hunter Lawrence, and Jo Shimoda were right up front along with another rookie in Talon Hawkins. Things ultimately didn't take long at all to separate here, Deegan pulled to a two-second lead in just about two minutes, and that gap was the same and staggered out from second to fourth. Hawkins' good run ended up coming to an end after he get wadded up in a bowl corner with Zombie Blose all over him. That put the Rockstar Husky rider from 4th back to 14th, and he simply had no time to pick up five spots. Speaking of five, the top five here went as Deegan, Lawrence, Shimoda, Jordon Smith, and Blose.
Levi Kitchen, who got the 'fake holeshot' in qualifying put on an encore performance of that in his heat race, and put up a decent gap to R.J. Hampshire and Carson Mumford right away. Jett Lawrence ended up getting cut off at the end of the start stretch and was running around fourth meanwhile. But just with about a minute to go on the clock, the forecasted rain arrived. You could literally see entire sections of people in unison put on rain ponchos and pull up their hoodies. Not super heavy at this point, but the night was young. Not affected in the slightest was the Master Chef who secured the Star Sweep in the 250 heats, and a shoutout to Dilan Schwartz for securing my 4/4 in the main for PulpFantasy right away by putting some elbow grease into a late pass on Max Vohland.
Almost wrecked doing so, but Dean Wilson slid his way to a surprise holeshot ahead of Ken Roczen before the 94 got by him in the bowl corner before the finish line. As far as the rain goes, it wasn't much worse than it was just a few minutes ago, but it wasn't getting better either. Roczen more or less cruised to a 10-second win in what ended up being a relatively quiet race. Chase Marquier losing five spots in about a second was simply devastating for my fantasy squad though.
Aaron Plessinger never got the chance to run in the slop at East Rutherford which is a shame given that he probably would have won that night. Look no further than his start here in this second heat, gapping AC and Sexton inside of a full lap. Now things were going well for AP. That was until he got a bit frisky after the whoops and took out the static robo camera on the other side of the berm. Luckily Plessinger was still able to avoid the LCQ, but what could have been. Sexton was the beneficiary here, picking up the top gate choice in the biggest Main Event of his life.
250 East/West Showdown Recap
1st - No. 1W Jett Lawerence (Honda HRC)
Not exactly the most exciting affair to end the 250 season, but they don't pay these guys for the entertainment factor. For Jett, he ended his 250 career with an absolute bang, running away like a thief in the night with this one after he gave Hampshire the business in a bowl corner. Officially, he's tied with Jeremy McGrath, whom you may have heard of since I've been told he was good, for the third most 250/Lites class Main Event wins with 13. The only two men with more are current Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team manager Nathan Ramsey with 15, and James Stewart (so good by the way) with 18.
2nd - No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing)
I don't think R.J. had the long speed to compete for the win last night based on how Jett was running in the few laps before he took the lead. But based on his speed for the opening portion of that Main Event he surely did. Even after he fell to second, he never really let Lawrence completely run away with this one, only losing by a bit over four seconds, which in the conditions that were out there is pretty good. Just wish we got these last two rounds of R.J. all season, thought he was tremendous in this mini-run.
6th No. 1E Hunter Lawrence (Honda HRC)
Hunter's fate was ultimately sealed off the gate drop as you can see below. Simply buried down on the inside going into that first corner and although he valiantly almost got into the top five, we never got that real Lawrence Brother battle that I would like to think most people wanted to see. Now that his Supercross season is over, I'm ready to say that I don't need to see Hunter take another indoor gate drop on a 250. If it was my call he'd be on the 450 starting gate come Anaheim 1 next year with his brother.
8th No. 238 Haiden Deegan (Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha)
A quiet end to the season, but Deegan gets an A+ from me in his maiden professional Supercross season. Getting second in points right out of the gate is no joke, especially in a field that included guys like Hunter Lawrence, Nate Thrasher, Jordon Smith, Jo Shimoda for the back nine, etc. I get that the heavy promotion that he gets turns some people off but it's because he's really, really good, and he's only scratching the surface of what he can be in this sport which is scary to think about.
250 Salt Lake City East/West Showdown Top 10
1st No. 1W Jett Lawrence
2nd No. 24 R.J. Hampshire
3rd No. 43 Levi Kitchen
4th No. 30 Jo Shimoda
5th No. 58 Jordon Smith
6th No. 1E Hunter Lawrence
7th No. 63 Max Anstie
8th No. 238 Haiden Deegan
9th No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburgh
10th No. 52 Carson Mumford
Final 250 Class Points Standings
250 West Region
250 East Region
1st No. 1W Jett Lawrence (223 Points)
1st No. 1E Hunter Lawrence (241 Points)
2nd No. 24 R.J. Hampshire (186 Points)
2nd No. 238 Haiden Deegan (183 Points)
3rd No. 43 Levi Kitchen (156 Points)
3rd No. 63 Max Anstie (182 Points)
4th No. 56 Enzo Lopes (149 Points)
4th No. 58 Jordon Smith (159 Points)
5th No. 49 Mitchell Oldenburg (131 Points)
5th No. 57 Chris Zombie Blose (143 Points)
6th No. 34 Max Vohland (121 Points)
6th No. 6 Jeremy Martin (132 Points)
7th No. 48 Cameron McAdoo (101 Points)
7th No. 29 Nate Thrasher (120 Points)
8th No. 33 Pierce Brown (98 Points)
8th No. 128 Tom Vialle (120 Points)
9th No. 41 Derek Kelley (87 Points)
9th No. 67 Cullin Park (117 Points)
10th No. 83 Cole Thompson (87 Points)
10th No. 285 Coty Schock (94 Points)
250 West ran 9 rounds this year and 250 East ran 10 rounds for posterity and comparisons sake.
450 Class Recap
1st - No. 1 Chase Sexton (Honda HRC)
I mean what a season, what a team, what a ride it was for Chase Sexton and Honda HRC. They've waited a HOT MINUTE to get another one of these Premier Class Championships. To put it in some different terms, I was 4.5 years old when Ricky Carmichael won in 03, Sexton was just three years old, and Honda HRC team manager Lars Lindstrom was a practice mechanic for Honda, I have more thoughts on Sexton's win here, but I'm very happy for that group to finally bring the big one home. Phenomenal outing by Sexton to close things out here as well, things essentially were over 10 seconds in.
2nd - No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (Red Bull KTM)
Not quite in the cards for AP on Saturday, but coming back to get a podium to end the year has to feel good. Definitely wonder if a better gate pick/better Heat Race result would have changed the tides in hindsight, but Sexton was simply going for the jugular. If for nothing else we got a "3 for Dale" mention on the podium which in my book is as good as a win.
3rd and 6th - No. 46 and No. 751 Justin and Josh Hill (Team Tedder KTM)
Gonna package the Hill brothers together here since they both put up season-best results on the way out. Everything that happened with Team Tedder this year, and specifically down the stretch was very cool to see. Justin genuinely looked fairly close to the guy some expected him to be in this class some time ago, and Josh was sneaky really good this year given his age. Say the depleted field helped them out late, but this was an awesome year for the Brothers Hill no matter how things shook out on Saturday.
22nd - No. 94 Ken Roczen (HEP Motorsports Progressive Ecstar Suzuki)
The Motorsports Gods decided to come back for one more tithe on the way out because we apparently can't have anything nice this year. This week it was Roczen who didn't make it through the evening with a knee injury. According to his postrace interview, and the video would confirm this, he hyperextended his knee on that bowl corner right of the bat and at that point, things were out of his hands. The incident reminded me of James Stewart's season-ending Motocross injury at '07 Washougal where he went to put his foot down and things just didn't cooperate with him.
The worst part is that all Roczen needed was two points to pass up Cooper Webb for third in the final standings and he fell just one short. He absolutely deserved to finish this year healthy, probably his best start-to-finish season since 2016. Hopefully, it's worse than it looked because Kenny has some bag chasing to do on the World Supercross circuit here down the road.
450 Class Salt Lake City Top 10
1st No. 23 Chase Sexton
2nd No. 7 Aaron Plessinger
3rd No. 46 Justin Hill
4th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo
5th No. 15 Dean Wilson
6th No. 751 Josh Hill
7th No. 12 Shane McElrath
8th No. 60 Justin Starling
9th No. 170 Devin Simonson
10th No. 78 Grant Harlan
Final 450 Class Point Standings
1st No. 1 Chase Sexton (376 Points. 450 Supercross Champion)
2nd No. 3 Eli Tomac (339 Points)
3rd No. 2 Cooper Webb (304 Points) (Has tiebreaker via more Main Event wins)
4th No. 94 Ken Roczen (304 Points)
5th No. 51 Justin Barcia (267 Points)
6th No. 21 Jason Anderson (242 Points)
7th No. 7 Aaron Plessinger (236 Points)
8th No. 46 Justin Hill (212 Points)
8th No. 9 Adam Cianciarulo (210 Points)
10th No. 15 Dean Wilson (200 Points)
PulpMX Fantasy Brings nothing but pain. With that said I will probably dump another chunk of money to get into Industry Idiots for MX with zero hesitation. And that's Supercross season No. 3 for me in the books. Thanks to everyone who kept up the whole way and I'll see you for the first gate drops at Pala in no time at all. Take care and beat the traffic.
Final Season Takeaways:
- Eli Tomac could never race again and is 100 percent a Mount Rushmore rider on this side of the pond with RC, MC, and Stew.
- This was Ken Roczen's best Supercross season since 2016.
-This was maybe Justin Barcia's best season of his career before he went down.
- Hunter Lawrence should be moved up to a 450 at 2023's end (the word is he may stay down another year).
- Haiden Deegan and Jo Shimoda will be considered heavy title contenders or favorites in 2024 depending on how the coasts shake out.
- Enzo Lopes and Carson Mumford should both be on factory teams off-rip in 2024.
- Pay James Stewart (so good by the way) any amount of money possible to be in the booth on an every week basis, I'm begging you.
Main Image via Honda HRC