Four riders separated by just a single point entered the third race in a winner-take-all to determine the first Triple Crown victor of the year.
But it wasn’t either of the three past champions that would claim the crown so rightfully theirs.
A young boy from La Moille, IL faced the quartal head-on to crown himself in his first career Monster Energy AMA Supercross Triple Crown.
“Definitely a tall task for me,” said Chase Sexton after being on the center step in the second scheduled visit to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
Sexton won the first of three races to begin his pursuit of the first Triple Crown of 2023, but a fifth place in the second event – along with a mixture of competitor’s finishes – gave four riders a single point gap headed into the final race. Reigning Supercross champion Eli Tomac and reigning World Supercross champion Ken Roczen both held five points. 2018 Supercross champion Jason Anderson and Sexton each held six points after their results from the first two races.
Point tallies in the Triple Crown format give first place to the rider with the least points. With first place giving just one point, all four were focused on the win.
“I really just went to the line knowing that if I won the race, I was going to win the whole thing. That was really my goal – obviously, everyone’s goal was to win the race. I didn’t have the greatest gate. I was lined up next to Jason (Anderson), but I just told myself that I’ve gotta make this work somehow. I came out in second and felt really good on the track. It was nice to really shine in that moment, and going up against these guys is not easy at all.
“Looking forward to going back to work this week and trying to improve, because these guys aren’t going to stop any time soon.”
Roczen had a bad start, putting him behind the 8-ball early outside of the top five. Tomac jumped wide on the far end of the track, crashing into the tuff blocks and mechanically hindering his bike from competition. He was able to get back onto track but well outside of the top 10.
That left Anderson and Sexton to duel against each other. Anderson led the initial four laps, but Sexton fought through multiple turns and crossovers to eventually take over the lead.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy pass,” Sexton explained his pass for the lead. “I didn’t expect him to cut under me. I slowed down quite a bit (because of that). I went wide into the next turn and pivoted nicely, and got to the inside of him at the finish jump. I was pumped from that third main event.
“It was just good clean racing.”
Two years ago, Sexton was in a similar position in Houston but the pressure of riding hard overwhelmed his rookie season, crashing off his bike and into an injury that took him out of the championship hunt. Last year, Sexton got redemption by winning at San Diego, but fewer mistakes earned him a sixth place in the point standings.
On Saturday night, he kept the wheels underneath him, led the final 10 laps and took Team Honda HRC to their first victory of the year. A big fist bump over the finish jump as the fireworks and flames hit his back was more than a relief.
“Redemption,” was all Sexton could say.
Now, just like the Triple Crown, he sits second in the point standings surrounded by champions, tied with two-time champion Cooper Webb and four points behind Tomac.
“It is weird that I won the third round just like last year,” Sexton shared about his focus on the season. “My starts this season were very mediocre. The first race, I came out swinging, but lost a lot of time toward the end of the race. Last week was not fun going to the LCQ. You can’t let Eli (Tomac) get a race lead on you early in the series because he doesn’t make mistakes a lot. I really put a lot of effort and focus into tonight, and it worked out.”
The Triple Crown races not only naturally break up the regular season schedule but also mix up the monotonous format. Excitement rises, the crowd roars and the results are left unknown until the final checkered flag waves.
For Sexton, his maturity has started to outweigh the unknowns as he looks to continue writing his name into the record books.
“I definitely don’t want to repeat last year,” he chuckled, shrugging off the bad memories. “I want to build off what I had from outdoors, and that’s where my mindset is at. Eli is still leading and we still have some more work to do. Looking forward to going east and having another week out here in California. Overall, stoked on tonight and the team, and just having a lot of fun.”
There may still be a lot of racing left in 2023, but early wagers are leaning more toward Sexton than before. In fact, he sits in the exact same position as he did a year ago.
This year, Sexton is making it clear he indeed is a good bet.
“I hope to win a lot more.”