The ninth round of the 2021 AMA Supercross series was also the 51st annual Daytona Supercross at Daytona International Speedway, where Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen took a heat-race win before charging to a fourth-place finish in the 450SX main event, while teammate Chase Sexton finished eighth in his return from injury. In the 250SX West class, Hunter Lawrence also earned a heat-race win (his first) before finishing in sixth in the main event.
Roczen enjoyed a strong main-event start aboard his CRF450R but was pushed wide in the second turn and lost several positions as a result. The German charged up to fourth place by the third lap but made a mistake in a rhythm section on lap 12 and lost a spot to Malcolm Stewart. Roczen regained the position four laps later and challenged Cooper Webb for third, but he ran out of time before the 18th and final lap. Roczen maintains the lead in the title chase, with a two-point edge on Webb. Meanwhile, Sexton was happy to be back in action after missing the last six rounds with a shoulder injury, but he struggled to re-find his pace. Following a decent main-event start, he lost several positions and settled for eighth place.
In the 250SX West main event, Lawrence completed the first lap in fourth place but went down in the sand section on lap 2 and slipped back to 10th. The young Australian secured seventh on lap 11 and moved up one more spot on the 14th and final lap.
- With all four Team Honda HRC riders having home bases in Florida, the squad tested and prepared south of Daytona during the week following the Orlando 2 round.
- Tickets were sold-out for the event, where many experiences were modified in accordance with COVID-19 protocols. The garages, paddock and pit road were closed to fans, as were the post-race activities.
- The media day riding session for Daytona took place at the speedway on Friday, with Team Honda HRC riders Ken Roczen, Chase Sexton and Hunter Lawrence all participating.
- For his return to action, Sexton wore custom NASCAR-themed Alpinestars gear to race under the lights at the World Center of Racing.
- Track viewing was postponed due to weather in accordance with the speedway’s rule; for every lightning strike within 8 miles of the speedway, there is a mandatory 30-minute operational hold. Free-practice sessions were canceled, and the qualifying schedule was revised, giving each group one sighting lap during its first session.
- Roczen posted the fastest 450SX time, at 1’08.019”, and Sexton was sixth-fastest, with a best of 1’08.808”. SmarTop/Bullfrog Spas/MotoConcepts Honda riders Benny Bloss, Vince Friese and Broc Tickle were 13th-, 14th– and 18th-best, respectively, with times of 1’10.144”, 1’10.251” and 1’11.003”. Muc-Off Honda rider Justin Brayton missed his second race, as he continues to recover from a practice-crash injury, but his teammates Mitchell Oldenburg and Shane McElrath had the 17th– and 19th-best times. TiLube Honda rider Grant Harlan had a 24th-best at 1’12.966”.
- In the 250SX West class, Lawrence posted the fifth-fastest time at 1’10.486”. Muc-Off Honda’s Mitchell Harrison was 13th, while FXR/Chaparral Honda riders Carson Mumford and Coty Shock were 15th and 20th, respectively.
- The 250SX West class saw Lawrence ride to a flawless win after a restart in heat 2, while Harrison was 17th. Shock finished eighth in heat 1.
- Roczen took the holeshot in 450SX heat 2 and rode to a solid win, while Bloss, Oldenburg, McElrath and Austin Politelli were sixth, 11th, 13th and 20th, respectively. Sexton finished fourth in heat 1, while Friese, Tickle and Gardner were sixth, seventh and 15th.
- In the second qualifying session, Sexton made a mistake on the wall jump and landed on the following jump face. Though his injuries—a broken tooth and hole in his bottom lip—did not keep him from racing, he did require stitches before the heat race.
Ken Roczen 94“Daytona was a fun race! Obviously that track is always technical. The dirt was super black, and the lighting just made it more difficult than if we were racing in a normal stadium. In the main event, I got a good start but was pushed wide and dropped back a few spots. I really had to be aggressive early on and make some moves happen to move forward. I made a little mistake toward the end of the race and Malcolm Stewart got by me. I had to pass him again and I tried to charge forward, but unfortunately we couldn't get on the podium. I feel like I rode really well, and we're in a good spot. We still have the red plate and most importantly, we’re safe and had fun. I already can't wait to go to Arlington and put in the same effort, just sharpen up a little bit and see where we are.”
Chase Sexton 23“My first race back here in Daytona was a rough day overall. I fell in the first practice, and in second practice I tried a wall jump but landed hard in the next jump face; I put a hole through my lip and chipped my tooth really bad, which was frustrating. The heat race was okay; I got a good start but got caught up in the second corner and then came back to fourth. I got a good start in the main event but then went backwards. I got freight-trained and just didn't feel like I was racing out there. I’m pretty frustrated with the ride, but it's a start and we’ll go only up from here. I’m looking forward to Dallas.”
Hunter Lawrence 41“This weekend was pretty good. We had a solid heat race and got my first ever heat-race win, which was really cool. My body is starting to come around and I’m feeling better and better. I made one mistake in the main event that really let me down in the sand section. I was in a good position to fight for a podium spot, so I’m bummed about that. All things considered, my body is feeling healthy, my shoulder is coming around and I feel great on the bike. This is a good, calm way to head into Arlington for three rounds back to back, which I am really looking forward to.”
Erik Kehoe - Team Manager“The team was prepared for rainy weather, but the track conditions ended up being classic rough Daytona. Hunter continues to get stronger each week. He holeshot his heat race then had to restart, but he responded with another perfect start and led every lap to win. His start in the main wasn’t quite as good but finished just shy of the top-five goal. It was great to see Chase back in action. He showed good speed in practice but over-jumped a double and had to take a trip to the medical rig. Fourth place in his heat and a solid eighth place in the main on the tough Daytona track conditions was a solid return. Ken showed that he was prepared for the track as he qualified first and won his heat race. He was in good position on the main-event start, but unfortunately another rider pushed him wide, causing him to exit the corner mid-pack. He rode hard to close the gap to the leaders, posting the fastest lap time of any rider. His hard-earned fourth-place finish was just shy of his goal of being on the podium.”