- Chase Sexton dominates premier class for his third win of the season
- Hunter Lawrence continues his rule in 250SX East, with win number six
- Colt Nichols shrugs off illness to notch a ninth-place finish in 450SX
Team Honda HRC earned its second win-sweep of the 2023 AMA Supercross season this weekend in Atlanta, and this one was particularly sweet for Chase Sexton and Hunter Lawrence. This one was even better than the first, as Sexton and Lawrence both dominated their respective races, and both improved their chances to win titles. Their timing was also good, as the event was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway, just down the road from Honda’s Powersports headquarters, with scores of Honda associates in attendance, along with top management.
Sexton was third across the holeshot line in the 450SX main event, and he put his CRF450RWE into the lead just a couple of turns later. From there, it was smooth sailing, as the Illinois native rode flawlessly to a seven-second victory. Meanwhile, despite struggling with illness all day, Nichols rode well, advancing from 13th after lap 1 to an eventual ninth-place result.
In the 250SX East main event, Lawrence exited turn 1 in second place and quickly muscled his CRF250R by Haiden Deegan. A Lawrence miscue allowed Deegan back by, but by lap 3, the Australian had taken permanent possession of the lead, and he ultimately stretched his advantage to over eight seconds.
- With Atlanta being a daytime race, the Team Honda HRC crew members got an earlier-than-normal wakeup call, leaving the hotel at 6 a.m. Following the morning qualifying sessions, the main program kicked off at 2:30 p.m., and Victory Circle was completed around 6 p.m.
- American Honda’s Powersports Division is headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, so this was a home race for Team Honda HRC. As such, it was attended by well over 100 associates and family members, some of whom watched from a suite with new Vice President & Business Managing Officer Yuichiro Ishii, as well as Sales & Operations Assistant Vice President Kevin Mills and Customer Engagement Senior Manager Jeremy McGuire.
- Prior to the race, Warren Reid was honored on the podium by the Legends and Heroes Tour. In the early ’70s, Reid was a privateer Honda rider before doing stints with FMF Honda and the Honda factory squad. He went on to ride for other teams, but after retiring from racing, he spent decades working for American Honda’s Power Equipment division in Alpharetta.
- For the 11th time this year and the sixth time in a row, Sexton was the fastest rider in 450SX qualifying. On the long, hybrid track, the Illinois native’s pole-earning lap time was a long 1’28.064”. Lawrence was second-quickest in 250SX East qualifying, and Nichols was 16th in the premier class.
- In the first 250SX East heat race, Lawrence exited turn 1 in fourth place and quickly moved up to third. He dispatched Tom Vialle for second on lap 2, then assumed the lead when Haiden Deegan went down a lap later. From there, he cruised to a comfortable 11.306-second win. Other Red Riders to advance through that heat were TiLube/Storm Lake Honda’s Michael Hicks, Phoenix Racing Honda’s Caden Braswell and Red Research Group’s Luke Neese. The second 250SX East heat saw Fire Power Honda’s Max Anstie, TiLube’s Henry Miller, Phoenix’s Jace Owen and Valley Ford’s Jeremy Hand all make it through. All four of the riders who advanced through the last-chance qualifier–Phoenix’s Coty Schock and Cullin Park, plus Fire Power’s Gage Linville and Moto Academy’s AJ Catanzaro–were Honda-mounted.
- Sexton started about fifth in 450SX heat 2 and moved up to third by the first full lap. A race-long battle ensued between him, Jason Anderson and Justin Barcia, with Sexton ending the race third. Nichols got a great start in the first premier-class heat race and finished sixth, one position behind Fire Power Honda’s Dean Wilson.
- Sexton’s best lap of the 450SX main event—a 1’28.244”—was nearly a full second better than the next-best rider. Lawrence also posted the best time of the 250SX East main event.
- Sexton’s win stretched Honda’s winning premier-class record in Atlanta to 13, the best of any manufacturer. It also put him on the list of Honda-mounted Atlanta premier-class winners, which also includes Marty Tripes, Chuck Sun, Johnny O’Mara, Rick Johnson, Jeff Stanton, Ricky Carmichael (twice), Davi Millsaps and Ken Roczen (twice). It was the fourth AMA Supercross 450SX win of his career.
- This was Lawrence’s second 250SX win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, as he also topped last year’s East-West Showdown at the same venue. Other Red Riders who have won the support class in Atlanta include Doug Henry, Josh Grant, Justin Barcia, Will Hahn and Sexton. This was Lawrence’s 11th career AMA Supercross 250SX victory, and his sixth of the year.
- Sexton and Lawrence both took part in the post-race press conference.
- Lawrence is now a whopping 45 points ahead of second place in the 250SX East points chase. Sexton made up valuable ground in the 450SX fight; he still sits in third, but now he’s 17 points behind the leading Eli Tomac, and 11 behind Cooper Webb.
- After the race, Sexton headed to the airport to travel to Austin, Texas. On Sunday, he attended the U.S. round of the MotoGP series at Austin, Texas’s Circuit of the Americas, where his teammate Chance Hymas was also on hand. Their trips were worthwhile, as LCR Honda’s Alex Rins rode to the win.
- The next round in the AMA Supercross series is this coming weekend in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The event is an East-West Showdown, which means Hunter and Jett Lawrence will both be in action in the 250SX ranks.
Chase Sexton 23“It felt like an outdoor race when I woke up this morning. I felt really tired today and kept waking up a little bit more for every session. I only did long motos this week, so I really feel like that work paid off. Around the 10-minute mark, I’m sure the TV broadcasters were waiting for something to happen. [laughs] I got through a huge mental barrier to get through that whole race on two wheels and ride solid. It was much needed.”
Colt Nichols 45“I’m not sure if I was battling an illness or what, but I just didn’t have any energy to give in the main event. I just felt terrible all day, and I’m a little disappointed by that. I’m just happy to get out of here healthy and live to fight another weekend.”
Hunter Lawrence 96“Day races are kind of weird; I’m not a big fan of them. It was hot today, but the track was so high-speed and open that we could get some airflow going. It was so one-lined that you really had to be on the guy in front of you and confident in any move you were going to make. It feels really good to be where we’re at right now; this sport is so tough and full of peaks and valleys. It’s good to enjoy these moments because we work so hard for them. Now on to East Rutherford. Hopefully Jett and I can get out of there with a good battle and a 1-2 finish.”
Lars Lindstrom - Team Manager“Today was an incredible day for the team; it was the double-win we’d been looking for for a long time—this time with no asterisk. The way the 450 main event ended gave us a little more hope and confidence to get back into title contention; I think it showed it’s definitely possible, because in one race we gained a lot of points, and that can happen again with how well some of the other guys are riding. Hunter continued his dominance in the 250 class; he absolutely crushed those guys. Colt wasn’t feeling well, and it was really up in the air whether he was even going to race the main event. He was able to gather himself and gut out a ninth-place finish, so we’re really proud of him. Overall, I’m super happy for the team. It’s outstanding to get this done here in Atlanta, where our Honda Powersports is based, in front of upper management.”