Chase Sexton wins Nashville Supercross; Hunter Lawrence clinches 250 East title
Chase Sexton kept his name in the 450 championship conversation with his fourth win of the season in Round 15 of Monster Energy Supercross at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, in a race marred by a hard crash and injury for title contender Cooper Webb.
With his win, Sexton moved into second in the standings and is 18 points behind defending series champion Eli Tomac.
Webb, who missed the main event, fell to third, 34 points behind. The status of his injury was uncertain Saturday.
Tomac hoped to take full advantage of Webb’s absence. He grabbed his sixth holeshot of the season but had a big moment while leading through 5 minutes. His front tire dug in the dirt on a landing and nearly threw him over the handlebars. That near-miss seemingly tamed his aggression and allowed Sexton to shave 3 seconds off in the next few laps. At the halfway point, Sexton swept around Tomac for the lead.
“I just wanted to be consistent and hit my marks,” Sexton told NBC Sports Will Christien. “I didn’t get the best start, but I made my way up and saw Eli offline, wanted to click off good laps and get close. With the track being this sketchy, it’s hard to be out front the whole time and for me it allowed me to see some different lines. That was a tough track, but I felt super smooth, really locked in and I feel like I’m making big strides.”
Tomac finished runner-up for the second consecutive week and earned his fifth podium in the last six rounds. Next week the series will head to his home track in Denver before the season finale in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Tomac excels in races at elevation, making him a favorite to win a third championship and his second consecutive.
“We launched out of the start there; had two great starts during the day,” Tomac told NBC Sports Daniel Blair. “I was trying to do what I can, and honestly I had a bobble in the whoops and that is when I started to take it easy. The track got really torn up, and Chase was riding really good, so I was just riding in my zone.”
Ken Roczen (third) scored his third conesecutive podium but still wanted more.
“That was a bummer,” Roczen said. “I completely botched my start, and my first two laps were probably my worst all year. I was just going backwards at the beginning. I wasn’t riding my best, either. I’m stoked to get away with third place. Podiums are tough to get out there on a tricky track. It claimed a couple of guys, so I just played it safe.”
Justin Barcia, last week’s winner in New Jersey, crashed at the halfway point when he cased a jump. Barcia was carted off the track holding his left shoulder. He finished 21st and is now 13 points behind Roczen in their battle to finish fourth.
Colt Nichols and Justin Hill rounded out the top five.
Cooper Webb went down on Lap 1 of Heat 1 and was run into by Adam Cianciarulo, whose front wheel made hard contact with Webb’s helmet. Webb was helped to the Alpinestars medical cart.
Webb was taken to the hospital for evaluation and did not start the main.
Heat 2 continued to take a toll. Early in that race, Jason Anderson cross-rutted and was pitched off the front of his bike. An earlier incident in qualification injured his left shoulder. He was unable to finish his heat and had to race his way into the main via the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).
Hunter Lawrence didn’t need to win the Nashville 250 East Supercross race to take the championship, but he wanted the victory. Needing only a 20th or better, Lawrence cruised behind Jordon Smith and waited until that rider made a mistake by jumping off course. Once out front, Lawrence clicked off the final laps and won his seventh race in nine rounds of the season.
Lawrence will head to the season finale in Salt Lake City with only one thing in mind. In their final head-to-head battle on a 250 bike, Hunter and Jett Lawrence will fight for supremacy in the East/West Showdown.
After receiving congratulations from his competitors on the track, Hunter headed to the mechanics area, gently placed his bike on the ground and hugged Jett, who is expected to wrap up the 250 West division next week in Denver.
“I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Lawrence said. “Everyone that is with me now was with me when I was at my lowest, so this is incredible. I can’t say I ever dreamed of this as a kid because I didn’t know this was possible. I’m choked up; this is surreal.”
Returning from injury only two rounds ago, Jo Shimoda stood on the podium for the first time this season with a second-place finish. While Lawrence was following Smith in the opening laps, Shimoda seemed to have the faster bike. Even after Lawrence took the lead, Shimoda refused to fall back significantly and finished less than four seconds behind.
“The last couple of months was a lot of couch sitting, and it wasn’t fun,” Shimoda said. “Just to be out here is awesome to me. We’ll just keep pushing and do this thing.”
Smith’s last win was 2018 in Daytona. He was leading until he jumped off course and handed over the top spot to Lawrence on Lap 6.
“The Yamaha got off to a good start,” Smith said. “That felt good. I’ve been struggling with the starts as of late and we did a lot this week. ... That’s where I want to be, battling for the win. I just have to eliminate those mistakes, but I’m not going to take these podiums for granted. It’s been a while since I’ve been consistently up here.”
Haiden Deegan finished fourth and earned his sixth top-five.
Last week’s winner Max Anstie rounded out the top five.
2023 Race Recaps
New Jersey: Justin Barcia wins muddy race; first in two years
Atlanta: Chase Sexton is back in the championship picture
Glendale: Eli Tomac wins 51st, breaks tie with James Stewart
Seattle: Tomac wins and ties Cooper Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time
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Results and points after New Jersey
Justin Barcia wins muddy New Jersey race