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SuperMotocross: Three talented 450 rookies prepare for 2023

Jason Weigandt and Daniel Blair are joined by Clinton Fowler for a deep dive into the Supercross 450 rookie class comprised of Christian Craig, Colt Nichols, and Justin Cooper.

Three talented 450 rookies are set to make some noise as the 2023 SuperMotocross Championship gets under way as Christian Craig, Colt Nichols and Justin Cooper move up a division.

In a recent edition of SMX Insider, featured in the video above, SuperMotocross statistician Clinton Fowler joined Racer X’s Jason Weigandt and Race Day Live’s Daniel Blair to break down the rookies’ stats. And there is going to be a lot of enthusiasm for the new blood. In fact, Blair came just shy of predicting Craig will win in his first outing of 2023.

Each rider has a 250SX championship to their name with Craig earning his most recently in the 2022 West division. Nichols won his championship in 2021 in the East with Cooper taming the West that same season.

In 2022, Craig was dominant in 250 West, winning immediately at Anaheim 1 in the season opener. He followed that with another victory the following weekend at Oakland and swept the podium in the first nine starts. With the championship all but clinched, he only needed to finish well in the season finale at Salt Lake City and rode to a safe eight-place finish,

For Nichols, 2022 was a failure to launch. Sustaining injury at the beginning of the season in his heat race for Anaheim 1, Nichols failed to ride competitively last year, but his most recent time on the bike rivals Craig’s statistics. In 2021, Nichols swept the podium on his way to winning that year’s title.

Nichols’ path to the 450 class was one of the most interesting storylines during the offseason when he was tagged to replace Ken Roczen after he and Honda failed to reach an agreement for the 2023 450SX season.

Justin Cooper will make select starts for Yamaha in 2023 and the manufacturer has not yet revealed which rounds he will run. Rest assured he will challenge the status quo in every race he makes, however, as Cooper continues to temper his aggression with skill.

Fowler points out that Cooper’s biggest strength may well be his consistency. With nearly 88 starts in Supercross and Motocross combined, he has 47 podiums - an average of 65.4 percent.

For more stats and history about SuperMotocross, visit Fowler’s 3 Laps Down Instagram page.

Christian Craig:
31 years old
Turned pro in 2009
58 SX starts, 7 wins, 23 podiums
Has 11 450SX starts in 2017-18 with four top-five finishes
Won 2022 250SX West Championship
3rd in 2016 250SX West
Best Motocross season - 5th in 2022

Colt Nichols
28 years old
Turned pro in 2015
45 SX starts; 4 wins; 21 podiums
Missed races with injury in 2017, 2018, 2020 and 2022
Won 2021 250SX East Championship
3rd in 2019 250 SX West
Best Motocross season - 7th in 2017

Justin Cooper
25 years old
Turned pro in 2017
58 SX starts, 4 wins, 16 podiums
Won 2021 250SX West Championship
Best Motocross season - 2nd in 2021