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This Week in Supercross: Salt Lake City

This Week in Supercross: Salt Lake City

Well, we didn’t see that coming, did we?? So after we pretty much uncorked the champagne for Eli Tomac last week it all unravelled at Saturday’s Monster Energy AMA Supercross penultimate round in Denver for the Monster Energy Yamaha rider who suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon while leading the Main event.

Images and Stats by Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Tomac’s misfortunate means that the title is now in Chase Sexton’s hands and with Eli not lining up in Salt Lake City the Honda racer doesn’t even need to show up, but of course, he will as he looks to win his third main event in a row.

The 250SX category closes with another East/West Showdown. With both crowns claimed by the Lawrence Brothers, Hunter and Jett, the championship battle will be for podium positions with our eyes being on the battle between Max Anstie and Haiden Deegan for the number two spot in the East.

450 Class Recap: Denver

ELI-phant in the Room: With an 18-point lead on Chase Sexton going into the penultimate round in Denver, Eli Tomac was in defense mode of what would’ve been his third 450SX Class title. His untimely injury immediately gave Chase Sexton a title-clinch scenario if he finished on the podium, which he did by winning. Tomac was making his 163rd start and his last place finish is only the third of his career. The last time Tomac finished outside of the top-10 was the 2021 season opener.

Sexton Secures ‘Ship: In 1983 David Bailey was sitting third in points in a 42-point hole to legends Bob Hannah and Mark Barnett with five races to go. Much like Sexton 40 years later, Bailey battled adversity and took advantage of untimely mistakes and injuries to clinch the title before the final race. Both of these racers were on Factory Honda machines. Sexton wears #23, is 23 years old, and looks to win his first 450 title in 2023. His sixth 450SX Class win ties him with Justin Barcia for 30th all-time on the 450SX Class wins list and he looks to become the 24th different class champion.

Note – The AMA will not officially crown Sexton until after the finale, but he has virtually clinched the title due to Tomac’s injury.

A Long Time Coming: Honda is the 450SX Class’ winningest brand with 227 victories (43 more wins than Kawasaki) yet they had not won a title in 20 seasons (Ricky Carmichael 2003). Sexton’s dramatic comeback in the title looks to have broken that streak and gave the brand its 16th title which is also the most (four more than Yamaha). Honda’s 20 seasons long Champion-less streak is the second longest in 450SX Class history (Suzuki 1982-2004, 23 seasons).

Notes: Ken Roczen (2nd) 63rd career podium ties him with Ryan Villopoto for 10th all-time. Adam Cianciarulo (3rd) Earned his first podium since Round 3 of 2021 in Houston and his fourth all-time 450SX Class podium (71st all-time). Justin Hill (4th) Career best finish and back-to-back top-fives for the first time in his 450SX Class career. Shane McElrath (5th) Career best 450SX Class finish as he looks to make his 50th 450SX Class start in Salt Lake City. Josh Hill (7th) Best finish since the 2014 Las Vegas Finale where he finished sixth. Kyle Chisholm (8th) Best finish since 2012 Toronto where he finished seventh. Grant Harlan (9th) First 450SX Class top-10 finish. Michael Hicks (15th) and Lane Shaw (19th) First career 450SX Class starts.

450 Class: Salt Lake City Historical Notes

History Lesson: The first 450SX Class race held in Salt Lake City was on April 28, 2001 at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Ricky Carmichael had clinched his first 450SX Class title the race before over Jeremy McGrath and would win the first Salt Lake City Supercross on a Kawasaki. He made it back-to-back in 2002 in Salt Lake, his only two wins in the city.

Solid SX Tradition In SLC: The series returned to Salt Lake City as the penultimate 450SX Class race from 2009-2013 and then again in 2017-2018. Salt Lake City hosted the last seven rounds of the 2020 pandemic-altered season in one of the greatest sporting accomplishments during the height of the pandemic for any sport.

End of Season Test: Rice-Eccles Stadium has hosted the most penultimate rounds of 450SX Class racing with 12. In 2021 Salt Lake City was the penultimate round and was the finale for the second time. 2022 and 2023 are the third and fourth time SLC is the finale. Only five stadiums have hosted more than one 450SX Class finale (Angel Stadium, LA Memorial Coliseum, Sam Boyd Stadium, the Rose Bowl, & Rice-Eccles Stadium).

Breaking it Down: Rice-Eccles Stadium History: 21 previous 450SX Class races, 2023 SLC will be #22. 12 times the penultimate round and four times the finale. Only 33% (7/21) has the winner of SLC gone onto win the title, including none of the previous seven races.

450 Class: Salt Lake City Winners

Manufacturer Wins in Salt Lake City

Kawasaki: 8 (2022)
KTM: 7 (2021)
Honda: 4 (2020)
Yamaha: 1 (2003)
Husqvarna: 1 (2020)

Top Winners in Salt Lake City

1) Cooper Webb: 4 (’20, ’20, ’20, ’21)
2) Ryan Villopoto: 3 (’09, ’11, ’13)
2) Eli Tomac: 3 (’17, ’21, ’21)
4) Ricky Carmichael: 2 (’01-’02)
4) Kevin Windham: 2 (’04 & ’10)
4) Marvin Musquin: 2 (’18 & ’21)

First Time Winners in Salt Lake City

Zach Osborne: 2020

250 Class Recap: Denver

Jett to End 250 Career on Top: Jett Lawrence clinched his second 250SX Class title in Denver after a third-place performance and becomes only the fourth rider to win a title on each 250SX Class coast (Ernesto Fonseca, James Stewart, and Grant Langston). Jett’s 22nd podium ties him with brother Hunter, Tim Ferry, Adam Cianciarulo, and Justin Barcia for eighth on the all-time 250SX Class podiums list.

Honda’s 2023 Three-Peat: Chase Sexton and the Lawrence brothers should combine to give Honda all three Supercross titles in 2023. This will be only the third title sweep for a brand in Supercross history: 2007, Kawasaki – James Stewart, Ben Townley, & Villopoto; 1991, Honda – Jean Michel-Bayle, Brian Swink, & Jeremy McGrath; 2023, Honda – Sexton, H. Lawrence, & J. Lawrence.

RJ!: RJ Hampshire scored the second 250SX Class win of his career in Denver. His 55th 250SX Class start is good for 27th all-time. The victory also was his 13th 250SX Class podium and 29th top-five. If he earns a top-five in Salt Lake City he will move into the top-10 all-time on the 250SX Class top-fives list.

Notes: Levi Kitchen (2nd) Led most the race, third career podium in 10th 250SX Class start. Jett Lawrence (3rd) Statistical clarification – Jett has 30 career starts but has qualified for 31 250SX Class events. Enzo Lopes (4th) Making his 37th career 250SX Class start just misses the podium but secures his fifth top-five finish of the season and fourth in-a-row. Mitchell Oldenburg (5th) Moves into fifth by himself on the all-time 250SX Class starts list with 77. His 21st top-five finish is good for 50th all-time and his 55th top-10 finish is good for sixth all-time.

250 Class: Salt Lake City Historical Notes

History Lesson: The first 250SX Class race held in Salt Lake City was on April 28, 2001 and Ernesto Fonseca won on a Yamaha and clinched the Western Regional title.

Venue History: The 250SX Class has the same venue history in Salt Lake City as the 450SX Class.

Title %: The eventual 250SX Class Champion had only won 3/11 races in Salt Lake City before 2020: James Stewart (2003), Ivan Tedesco (2004), and Tomac (2012). In 2020 Chase Sexton won two SLC’s and the title, but Dylan Ferrandis was able to win the Western Regional title without winning any of the SLC rounds. Neither 2021 or 2022 SLC winners won the title, leaving the Championship percentage at a paltry 29% (6/21).

East or West?: After exclusively being a Western Regional round in the 11 seasons Salt Lake City has hosted a 250SX Class race, the venue became an Eastern Regional round for SLC 1-3 of 2020. Then the West raced in SLC 4-5. The East raced SLC 6 before the East/West Showdown for the finale. In 2021, the East raced in SLC1 and the finale was a 250SX Class Showdown where both titles were determined. Back to one race in 2022 and 2023 but they are also Showdowns.

250 Class: Salt Lake City Winners

Manufacturer Wins in Salt Lake City

Kawasaki: 7 (2021)
Honda: 7 (2021)
Yamaha: 4 (2022)
KTM: 2 (2018)
Suzuki: 1 (2013)

Top Winners in Salt Lake City

1) Shane McElrath: 4 (’17-’18, ’20 x2)
2) Chase Sexton: 3 (’20, ’20, ‘20)
3) James Stewart: 2 (’02-’03)
3) Eli Tomac: 2 (’11-’12)
3) Austin Forkner: 2 (’20, ‘20)

First Time Winners in Salt Lake City

Jason Anderson: 2013
Jo Shimoda: 2021

Salt Lake City – Track Map