Story by Pete Peterson

The Daytona Supercross 450SX Class Main Event started with drama before the Gate Drop when Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence’s mechanic nearly didn’t get his rear tire cover off in time. Jett still got a great start, but it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Chase Sexton who emerged from the first turn with the Holeshot. Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac battled with Sexton for the lead in the opening laps until Lawrence made his move and passed both riders, nearly in the same track section. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger had a big crash in one of the track’s rutted rhythm sections, taking him well out of the top five. Tomac, with his bike smoking, eventually got around Sexton. But Lawrence was gone and en route to his first Daytona Supercross win, in his first attempt, in the 450SX Class.

Jett Lawrence

Jett Lawrence – First Place – 450SX Class. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Doug Henry’s insights: “Jett Lawrence is just an amazing all-around rider. I don’t know if he’s any taller than most of the riders, he seems about the about the same height, but somehow he’s able to leverage the bike. I feel that that enables him to put a little bit more power to the ground, maybe accelerate out of the corners little bit quicker… Seeing how his season’s been going a little bit up and down, maybe it’s some nerves and maybe it’s from some expectations that he feels that he should meet; maybe that got him a little bit set off in the beginning of the season… Sometimes we have expectations in our head and it sort of takes us away from our focus of what we really need to do right now. Going into some of the races earlier in the season, after his dominance in outdoors and in the SuperMotocross series, I feel like he felt he was going to carry that over to the supercross series. Then he realized that supercross is a little bit of a different game. There’s a lot of fast guys in supercross, a lot of guys that can really, really lay down some laps. And I feel like maybe, a little bit, he put the cart before the horse in a way where he’d expected to do well and just didn’t do quite as well. That sort of gets in your mind and can take you off track. But I feel that with the team around him, they have been getting things figured out. I mean coming into Daytona, it’s basically Eli’s home turf, he’s owned that place for a long time. To come in and to be as strong of a rider as he was throughout the entire day, it just it just goes to show that he’s learning. He said it was time to get serious, and I think he put a little bit of joking aside, a little bit of nerves aside, and just went out there and did his business. And that that track was brutal. You could definitely tell the guys who could get the rhythms down; they could find the better lines sooner, they were the ones to excel throughout the evening, and I think I think Jett made a pretty good statement. I don’t think he’s quite going to be completely dominant, he’s got a lot of guys that are super fast and really strong, but passing his main competition, at Daytona, and kind of walking away just definitely made a statement… You know he wants the championship, and he said that he wants to have the winningest record, and it’s good that he’s focusing on the championship but not necessarily on wins right now.” 

Eli Tomac

Eli Tomac – Second Place – 450SX Class. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Doug Henry’s insights: “Eli, you know he’s coming back from a pretty bad injury last year, and I kind of felt like the beginning part of the season would be a little bit of touch and go with whether he’s going to have the speed, whether he’s going to have the strength, whether he’s going to have the desire to want take that chance, the risks, that go along with Supercross. To me he’s had a great year so far. He’s right in there with the points in the championship. Daytona, he’s owned that place, so I think that maybe he had a little bit of pressure that he put on himself to go out there and do well. And I think he rode great all day and all night. I think just [it was] that rhythm section that really separated the guys; I mean every class, through Heat races, last chance qualifiers, Main Events. The track looked brutal and getting around clean – I’m sure that no rider got around that entire track clean one lap; there was just a matter of limiting the mistakes. Make one mistake or two mistakes a lap instead of five, or one big one and going off the track or losing a lot of time. So, I think Eli sort of set his pace, and at the end of the race he mentioned that he didn’t do the quad and taking that risk. You know, you’ve got to be ready to take that risk. I’m not sure who said it way back in the day, ‘If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re probably right.’ So, it’s like, if you didn’t feel comfortable jumping through that rhythm section, that was probably a good choice to just back it down.” 

Chase Sexton

Chase Sexton – Third Place – 450SX Class. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Doug Henry’s insights: “Chase is, to me, the most beautiful rider to watch ride. I could watch that guy ride all day long. With him switching to a new brand, new bike, a new team, that’s a big change. It’s a big change and it’s taking a little bit of time for him. I know he’s got a little bit of an injury, and that always some type of issue throughout the weekend, and you don’t know how much it caused during the week. The riders say, ‘Yeah I had a great week, I had a great day,’ but really inside you don’t know what’s going on… I think Chase rode very well. The KTM on a new track, Daytona’s just a different beast. And for them not really having a year prior to this to have settings to work with for him, I’m sure that they were looking for settings a little bit here and there throughout the night. Chase got a great start, he was leading for a while, and again just couldn’t limit the mistakes as much as Jett or Eli. If you could be consistent on the track like Daytona – keep your momentum, keep consistent, be strong, find those lines… I felt like he rode a solid race kept it on two wheels, got on the podium, and he’s still in the championship hunt. I look for Chase to be right in there ‘till the end for sure.” 

Cooper Webb

Cooper Webb – Fourth Place – 450SX Class. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Doug Henry’s insights: “Cooper has surprised me his entire career, the way that he can mentally be strong at certain events. It’s just a strength that he really has been able to master for the most part. The start was critical at Daytona for the leaders to just kind of get away a little bit. I’m sure that if Coop had gotten a better start, he would have had a better result. He kind of did what he had to do to salvage as many points as he could. He’s still just 10 points back. I mean, he’s right there and he’s looking at the title, and you know trying to improve each weekend. I would not count him out. He’s having a good year, not superb, but I feel like he’s happy with where he is; I’m sure he’d feel much better in front, but being in second place in the points chase right here where we are, I think he’s just going to keep building momentum. He and Eli and Chase, they’re all going to continue to build momentum. And I think Jett will have a target on his back for most of the season, and all these other guys are going to really do their best not to let him get away with it.” 

Ken Roczen

Ken Roczen – Fifth Place – 450SX Class. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Doug Henry’s insights: “Kenny is awesome. I love watching him ride, he has a great style. I think throughout the season he’s been riding really well. A lot of people say this, but when he gets that start he’s a pretty solid rider, when he doesn’t get a start he struggles a little bit to get to the front. In Daytona, starting around the top five, he just was never really able to push himself forward. But I think he was doing good; he was catching up, he was pretty consistent through the main rhythm section where you can gain a lot of time or lose a lot of time; he was pretty consistent through there, which I think helped him throughout the race. I mean, I’m sure all these guys are making mistakes everywhere. It would be cool to focus on one rider for a lap to see just how many mistakes they’re really making. Most people could probably count two or three mistakes a lap or so, but as a rider you can see how many mistakes they’re making throughout the lap – you know 10 to 15 little mistakes that just add up to seconds. I think Kenny was just trying to be consistent, trying to get to the front but not take too many chances, and hope for a podium. He missed it by a couple spots, but I see Kenny still being strong. He showed that he has the speed, he has the strength to run up there if he’s up there, and I look to him to be another consistent podium guy. Getting to sneak another win out of him would be good to see.” 

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson – Ninth Place – 450SX Class. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Doug Henry’s insights: “I missed Jason this weekend. I love seeing Jason up front, he’s just such a great character to watch. His riding style, you know he’s not a guy afraid to hang it out. And that’s the thing with the track like this, sometimes you got to slow down a little bit to go fast. I’m sure if you had eyes on him, I’m sure he was making quite a few mistakes, probably making the mistakes trying to rush himself to get through the pack, to get to the front. He probably was taking lines that he shouldn’t have taken and then just couldn’t really get to the front. But you know Jason is a guy that can absolutely be super-fast and be strong and come off with the win. I hope he gets a win. I know he wants to win. I know he thinks he feels he can get that win, so many people do, but just having him put a whole weekend together is a little bit tougher. I think just because his riding style is similar to mine, where I was a little bit – I don’t want to say out of control – I rode over my head most of my career just to try to keep up with everybody. I would try to make up with it in strength. And Jason’s one of those guys that he doesn’t give up, and I missed him at Daytona. I wish he had done better, but unfortunately that’s just sometimes how Daytona is, you know? Whether you can get the flow, you get the track down, you get a good rhythm, and sometimes you can’t. I’m sure Jason was just struggling all weekend.” 

Aaron Plessinger

Aaron Plessinger – Eighteenth Place – 450SX Class. Photo Credit: Feld Motor Sports, Inc.

Doug Henry’s insights: “I thought Aaron had a good shot at having a good Daytona because of the sloppy conditions, and his height gives a little bit of advantage through the ruts and especially on the straightaways when you really have to leverage the bike and kind of pull back and keep your foot pegs out of the ruts. I kind of picked him to be up close to the front, but just one mistake really can throw you off. I think he just didn’t have that speed without making mistakes, and unfortunately one of those mistakes took him out of the chance for a podium. Aaron’s a good rider, he’s a solid rider, I just think that for him it’s a little bit of [additional] confidence and speed to get him a better solid finish in the end in the night program.” 

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