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.
250SX East Standings
|1||Hunter Lawrence||96||Team Honda HRC||Honda||177|
|2||Haiden Deegan||238||Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing||Honda||132|
|3||Max Anstie||63||Fire Power Honda||Honda||122|
|4||Nate Thrasher||29||Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing||Yamaha||120|
|5||Jordon Smith||58||Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing||Yamaha||115|
|6||Jeremy Martin||6||Muc-Off FXR ClubMX||Yamaha||111|
|9||Cullin Park||67||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||81|
|10||Coty Schock||285||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||77|
|11||Henry Miller||66||Ti-Lube, Storm Lake Honda, Innovation Concrete Inc, Rangeline||Honda||72|
|12||Jace Owen||62||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||66|
|14||Chance Hymas||832||Team Honda HRC||Honda||60|
|15||Jeremy Hand||91||Valley Ford Truck, Dean Hushon Insulation, Wiseco, SKDA, 6D||Honda||52|
|17||Michael Hicks||460||TDMX Graphics||Honda||47|
|18||Caden Braswell||243||Phoenix Racing Honda||Honda||44|
|22||Luke Neese||125||Red Research Group, Honda of Lynchburg||Honda||24|
|23||A J Catanzaro||330||The Moto Academy, Honda||Honda||23|
|25||Gage Linville||602||Fire Power Honda||Honda||14|
|32||Lance Kobusch||95||STR, 100%, Dunlop, Canvas||Honda||3|