Two AMA Supercross races in a three-day span led to varied results for the GEICO Honda team. Chase Sexton scored a key 250SX East victory at a Sunday event, reclaiming sole possession of the points lead in his division. On Wednesday, the 250SX West division fired up for its first event since February 8th, but crashes slowed the team’s efforts.
Sexton’s Sunday win came with some drama, as he fell early in the main event. The race was red flagged and restarted as medics attended to a downed rider. Sexton made the most of his second chance, stalking race leader Shane McElrath until McElrath tangled with a lapped rider and fell. Sexton held steady from there—surviving his own run-in with the same lapped rider—to score his third victory of the season.
“I felt like my speed was really good all day. I felt like I had an edge on everybody,” said Sexton. “It definitely worked out in my favor to get the red flag. I was kind of just riding behind Shane. The first race [that was restarted] I made a stupid mistake early and I was like, I’m not going to do that again. I’ve got to wait this thing out. I felt like I was faster in the whoops. I got close to him a couple times, but I kind of backed off and then kind of got back close. Then he ended up coming together with a lapper, which gave me the lead. I felt like I rode really well all day, but that first race was not good for me. On the line I was like, “I’ve got to win this race.” There was no second place tonight. I had to go out there and win. I feel like we did a good job with that.”
The red flag restart worked against rookie teammate Jo Shimoda, who finished 11th.
“I was feeling so bad in my heat race but I was still able to qualify sixth to the main event,” said Shimoda. “Main event I pulled a second place start and did about four laps before the red flag came out. The second gate drop had I bad start and caught up to seventh, but then I crashed and got stuck for little bit which put me down to 11th.”
On Wednesday, 250SX West resumed, with Christian Craig, Jett Lawrence and Hunter Lawrence in action. Some wild racing made it clear the entire field had some pent-up energy following a four-month break.
“Everyone was so hyped after watching those East rounds, and you could see it in everyone’s riding style and aggression,” said Craig. “I think we were just cooped up. Everyone was! Those three rounds we watched got everyone fired up. I think there’s a lot more fireworks to come.”
The fireworks were good to Craig in his heat race. Riders crashed all around him and he sailed to the victory. The main event was not as kind, as all three GEICO Honda team riders crashed and found themselves way back. Craig rallied back to eighth, the best of the squad.
“First race was a bit of a struggle for me,” said Craig. “It wasn’t until the main event that I got my bike feeling comfortable. There’s so many different variables when you throw in the higher altitude, but I’m happy we got it better by the end of the night and I know the bike setup will be good the rest of the rounds here. In the main event I had a dumb tip over which left me second to last. I was able to work my way up to eighth and I felt really good actually. Despite the result, I’m happy with how I rode during the main and my fitness. It’s nice we get to go back racing in a few days!”
Rookie Jett Lawrence had a lot of hype after nearly winning the last race he competed in, at Anaheim back in January. He didn’t find his groove this time, however, and ended up 11th.
“The vibe was good, I felt really good the whole day, and I was consistent in qualifying, around p3 and p2,” said Lawrence. “Heat race, feeling good, made a mistake in the whoops and crashed. The whole main event I was struggling to find a flow. I had a really good start, I was a little off balance but I kept it pinned, I even had one leg off just to get balance. I just struggled with lines and I wasn’t flowing. I was definitely disappointed with my performance. I wasn’t pushing much, I was in a comfortable spot, my heart rate wasn’t too high, I was feeling good, but the whoops just caught me and I crashed.
At my level, being a professional, I shouldn’t be making those mistakes. I definitely wasn’t happy—what I got, I shouldn’t be getting.”
Lawrence’s brother Hunter made his long-awaited supercross debut, but it also featured crashes, including one in a heat race that sent him to the Last Chance Qualifier, and another early in the main event that saw him fighting from last place. He fought back for 13th.
“So good to be back at the races,” said Lawrence. “At one point, I went six months with no riding due to back-to-back injuries. Being able to race these events is awesome and it was fun to dip my toes into supercross for the first time. We had a few problems with the crashes, though. I think I was up to fifth in my heat race when I went down, and then in the main I hit neutral when I was trying to avoid two guys stopped at the end of the whoops. Had to come from last. Can’t wait to get more time under my belt and tidy a few things up so I can run up front!”
Races continue in quick succession, with Craig and the Lawrence brothers back in action this Sunday, again at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
GEICO Honda Results
Sunday, June 7, 2020
1. Chase Sexton
11. Jo Shimoda
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
8. Christian Craig
11. Jett Lawrence
13. Hunter Lawrence