Story by Pete Peterson

Round 3 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season delivered the second mud race of the year. Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper pulled the Holeshot but Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki’s Ken Roczen was into the lead immediately after the Holeshot stripe. Red Bull KTM’s Chase Sexton and Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Malcolm Stewart went down together in the first rhythm lane. Up front, Troy Lee Designs Red Bull GASGAS Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia hounded Roczen early. Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac collided with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Christian Craig slipping in the mud and lost several positions after a mid-pack start. Meanwhile, Red Bull KTM’s Aaron Plessinger made his way around Barcia and set his sights on Roczen. Seven laps into the race Roczen crashed out of the lead and Plessinger took over. In the closing laps Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Cooper Webb closed in on Plessinger but lappers – including contact with Sexton while getting lapped – prevented Webb from making a pass attempt at the lead. Plessinger crossed the line to earn his first 450SX Class Supercross win and take over the points lead. Barcia grabbed the final podium spot behind Webb with Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson rounding out the top five.

Aaron Plessinger had the crowd, and even his competitors, behind him as he crossed the line for his first 450SX Class victory. After strong rides in 2023 and a near-win in Detroit, “The Cowboy” stood at the center of the victory podium. The heavy and slick mud played to Plessinger’s favor, but this was not a fluke win. Now that he’s proven he can do it – and now that he knows the feeling – will this trigger a string of wins from the KTM rider?

Cooper Webb

Cooper Webb, after a team change, has the speed early in the season to win. He got into second place in San Diego and closed in on Plessinger impressively. Cooper looks comfortable on his new bike and has the urgency to make up points lost at the first two rounds. Webb got his first 450SX Class win at the Anaheim 2 Triple Crown in 2019; that led to his first title in the class. Will Webb kick off his third title drive next weekend inside Angel Stadium with a win?

Justin Barcia

Justin Barcia is always a threat in the mud, and his third place at San Diego proved that. Barcia rode like a rider looking for points, not a single victory. Unlike his usual wild ways, Barcia kept his composure and took a podium spot with relative ease. With two victories in Anaheim (the 2019 and 2020 season-openers), can Barcia translate a muddy podium finish to another top result at Round 4?

Jett Lawrence

After winning the opening round, Jett Lawrence has not fared well. A bad start stacked the deck against him in San Diego, but he raced forward for a fourth-place finish. On the way through the pack he got into an extended skirmish with Jason Anderson, which led to words after the race. The number 18 is used to his winning ways that have made him one of the most popular racers in the series, has San Diego’s result reignited the fire he needs to get back on the top step?

Jason Anderson

Jason Anderson started the year with a podium but hasn’t yet repeated that performance. That podium was a second place at A1 behind Lawrence, and the two riders engaged in a tense battle in San Diego. If Anderson wants to contest for another title against this stacked premier class field, urgency is going to play a key role in the points hunt. Did San Diego apply the pressure Anderson needs to go on a run?

Chase Sexton

Defending champion Chase Sexton entered the season with the most worried eyes on him, but he’s proven to be fully back up to speed on his new bike and with his new team. Sexton has commented that he’s ridden better than he ever has at the practice tracks since A1. His eighth place in San Diego looks poor on paper, but Sexton rode great recovering from a first lap crash. Sexton lost the red plate, but is only a single point back. If Anaheim 2 gives us dry racing, will Sexton prove that he’s faster than ever and start stacking up wins in 2024?

Eli Tomac

Many fans also worried about Eli Tomac at the start of the season, but he showed at Round 2 that his speed hasn’t left him. He has the maturity not to force it on a night when he’s not feeling it, and the sloppy conditions in San Diego probably offered more risk than reward. Tomac is surely looking ahead the Triple Crown at Anaheim 2, as the format has proven very agreeable with his trophy case. Will Tomac push for the win at Anaheim 2, or will he stick to a more cautious approach until the early season hype has settled down?

Ken Roczen

Costly crashes and small mistakes have kept Ken Roczen out of the early points chase. A first turn crash at A1, a stall after the start in San Francisco, and a crash while leading in San Diego put Roczen 18 points out of the lead. But his speed is there, and the three-race format of the Triple Crown play perfectly to his strong starts and early-race intensity. Is A2 the race where Roczen turns things around and stands on the top step of the podium?

Jeff Stanton, 1980s-1990s Era – “I’m happy for AP. It’s been a long time coming. You know, he’s a fan favorite, he’s emotional, so it was good to see. He needed that… He’s a Midwest guy so he’s a better mud rut rider than he is a hardpack rider. He comes from Ohio. He cut his teeth racing in the mud as an amateur kid, so If I had to bet, when it starts raining, he’s like, ‘Yeah, I’ve got a chance!’… Listen, for any of us that first win was frickin’ huge. I still remember my first win, the Atlanta Supercross, and so that first win for a guy like that is huge. And now he’s going to carry the red plate into the next race. You know, that’s just confidence. And so I’m happy for him and KTM… [regarding Ken Roczen] Ken’s been riding really good on the off-season. He pretty much had it [in San Diego]. So the bummer side for him, one mistake cost him and Suzuki a Supercross victory… I’m sure he saw Plessinger coming but gosh, he doesn’t need to take risks. I mean, second’s better than third all day long. And at this point, early on in the season, you minimize the damage and you take risks with two or three races to go, you know what I’m saying?… [regarding Cooper Webb] I’m most impressed with him from one year to the next. I didn’t expect Cooper to come out as strong as he did this year and be riding as solidly as he’s riding. Maybe [he has] a point to prove, but he’s been riding really solid all three races. I mean a couple of mishaps here and there, but he blew me out of the water at Anaheim. I never expected him to do what he did at Anaheim. Yeah, he made a mistake but he was solid and fast from the get go.” [regarding changing teams and Stanton’s experience] “I started out on Yamaha, then in 1989 I switched to Honda and I won all my championships on a Honda… I hear [Ryan] Villopoto saying, ‘You know what, if I would’ve left Kawi and switched teams I probably could have got a little bit more out of my career.’ And I get that feeling from these guys bouncing around a little bit. But Cooper wasn’t happy at KTM and this brought a new life to him. It makes it exciting for all of us, all the fans.” [regarding Sexton] “I said, ‘Sexton’s either going to sink or swim this this year,’ and I said that from the first race. He’s either going to have a really good day or a really bad day. And he turned up better than I anticipated. Anaheim [was good], and then to back it up the next week with a win. It was obviously a mud race; he got a killer Holeshot, and that helped. And it was uncertain starting the third race, and it didn’t go the way I hoped it was gonna. I mean, he’s still in the points hunt but he’s still got an uphill battle. I mean his confidence, right now, He’s going, ‘Dude I didn’t even get inside the top five here.’ So that hurts his mental psyche. The best thing for him is Jett falling off a little bit. Jett pretty much had his number last year outdoors. Chase is just as fast as Jett but Jett just got under his skin a little bit, and now everybody’s seeing that Jett’s – he’s normal; he makes mistakes and stuff happens… [regarding Chase’s team change] I don’t care if Chase is on a KTM or a Honda, emotionally if a guy’s under your skin, emotionally bothering you and mentally bothering you, it’s going to continue to happen. I think all the bikes are within a certain percent now and I think Chase can jump on any manufacturer’s bike and, with the right testing, the right people around him, could do what he’s doing. Just as Eli has proven he’s been able to do over the years. The bikes are so close, it’s the staff around him, the personnel around him, making the difference… [regarding Justin Barcia] “Justin’s like a little brother to me. I love Justin. I’m pumped that he got a third place. You know he’s getting up there in age. He’s in a great spot with Troy Lee, he’s in a great spot in his life; you know married and kids, and I just want to see him at this point make it through his career and not get hurt and put in some podium rides.” [regarding Prado and the news he’s planning to stay for A2] “I think he did fairly well, for him to come over here and win a heat race. You’ve got to walk before you run. Those guys are super fast outdoors, but I think he found out that Supercross, it’s a whole different set up, a whole different gig. If that’s his dream to do what [Jean-Michel] Bayle did, you know race another year and come over here, I’m all for it, I welcome it. But I think he found out it’s not gonna be maybe as easy as it was for him in Europe. I mean, it’s not easy for him in Europe, but the Supercross gig’s tough. The intensity’s up, an obstacle in front of you the whole time, and so it takes a couple years. Anybody that comes over here that’s been successful, it takes a couple years to get the tracks adjusted, to get the lifestyle adjusted, the living, the food, the flights – every weekend go-go-go, the training, the riding, it doesn’t come easy.”

Cole Seely, 2000s-2020s Era – “When he first went to the 450 Aaron Plessinger struggled a little bit, but obviously he has a crazy amount of talent, coming off of Supercross and national wins on the 250. I think everybody, whether you’ve worked with him, you’ve raced against him, or you’re just a fan, is very excited and happy to see him finally get it done. Last year in Detroit when he threw it away with two laps to go the entire world of Supercross and motocross was pretty devastated for him. But he’s always just such a good guy to talk to. I remember last year after that, seeing him in Seattle when I’d kinda stepped back into the racing scene, talking to him for a minute and he was just torn up about it but still in good spirits. He’s just such a good guy. He’s had an amazing season, too; points leader now and it’s kind of one of those years where there’s six or seven guys that can win on any given night. So to stay consistent as he has been, rain or sunshine, it just doesn’t matter, he’s just there. I think he’s kinda of like the underdog in the championship. Maybe not the guy you would’ve picked to win the championship but here we are three rounds in and he’s got the points lead. I think he’s going to have a really good season.” [regarding Cooper Webb] “Coop he’s just a warrior. I think that’s the best word to describe him. Throughout his entire career he’s just always been one of those guys that you cannot count out. The last couple years, he just seemed like he wasn’t adapting well to the bike or something, like something was off. And I think a lot of us probably assume that his speed was slowing, kinda turning down; but like I said you can never count him out. If he’s going to line up he’s going to line up to win. I was really, really impressed with him at A1. I think had he found his way past Anderson before he crashed, I think he would have been giving Jett a little run for his money. I was blown away by how well he was riding. I think that switch to Yamaha, maybe it wasn’t just the bike, maybe he needed a new environment around him, but I think Coop’s going to be a force to be reckoned with this year.” [regarding Jett Lawrence and Jason Anderson] “The Jett/Anderson thing was pretty interesting. Speaking from experience, Jason’s definitely not the kind of guy you want to get on his bad side. To me that seemed like an issue that probably should have just fizzled out after the race because you’re kinda setting yourself up for an enemy throughout the rest of the season, maybe the rest of your career. Obviously Jett’s doing really well. It kinda sucks with the last two rounds having mud races where you can’t really see these guys shine the way they’re supposed to. I think Jett coming off that undefeated [outdoor] season, you kind of expect so much out of him, and he probably expects the same out of himself. But Supercross is a whole different story. The start is 80% of the race and you’ve just got to be so dialed-in every single lap and every single section. There’s just a lot more going on. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him winning, obviously, but I think it’s been a little bit of a humbling experience these last two rounds for him. And now he’s got a new enemy.” [regarding Cole’s experiences racing Anderson] “It was a rivalry more than a feud, definitely. I think he and I just came in so prepared for the 2014 season on 250s and that’s where it all started… I knew how to ride with him. Like, I knew what to expect from him and I think he kinda knew the same [about me].”

Round 4 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship takes place inside Angel Stadium of Anaheim on Saturday, January 27th. Opening ceremonies start at 8:00 p.m. EST (5:00 p.m. local time). The race pays points to both the 17-round Supercross season and also the 31-round SuperMotocross World Championship.

If you can’t make it to Anaheim 2, you can catch the action live on Peacock. Select rounds are also available on NBC, USA Network, CNBC, and the NBC Sport app. Audio coverage is available on SiriusXM – CH 85. For International viewers, please go to to get the SuperMotocross Video Pass ( 

Tickets for every round are available now, right here on

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