In conjunction with the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) and AMA Pro Racing, the SuperMotocross (SMX) League has announced the final field of racers that will contest the inaugural SuperMotocross World Championship Playoff round this Saturday, September 9, from zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina. A total of 60 athletes, split evenly across the 450cc and 250cc divisions, will tackle the one-of-a-kind track layout currently being constructed at “The Bellagio of Dragstrips” for the first of three postseason races. Live broadcast coverage from Playoff 1 will be featured on USA Network, beginning at 12 p.m. PT / 3 p.m. ET, with live, extended streaming coverage on Peacock, beginning with Race Day Live at 6:30 a.m. PT / 9:30 a.m. ET. Additionally, international coverage will continue to stream exclusively via SuperMotocross Video Pass.
During an exclusive virtual press conference with the media on Tuesday morning, hosted in conjunction with NBC Sports, SMX personnel confirmed the final entry list for each respective class of competition. The top 20 points earners in the 450cc and 250cc divisions from the regular season have secured seeds into the Main Event Motos at Playoff 1, Playoff 2, and Final, and will enter the opening race at zMAX Dragway with points based on their finishing position in the regular season standings. The top seed in each respective class, the Team Honda HRC duo of Chase Sexton (450cc) and Hunter Lawrence (250cc), will lead the field into action with 25 points apiece.
NBC Sports' Leigh Diffey, play-by-play announcer for the Finals in Los Angeles said, "If you put it in terms of the NFL, unless your team wins the Super Bowl you're hanging onto the divisional champion or conference champion, but nobody remembers that, they only remember the Super Bowl Champion and that's where we're at now with SuperMotocross and that's how this will resonate around the world....regarding international riders around the world coming here to compete, they know in order to be regarded as the best in the world this is the series they need to compete in."
Due to various circumstances across each division, the seeded field has been adjusted to reflect the current status of each athlete. In the 450cc class, Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Eli Tomac will be forced to forgo the SMX Playoffs as he continues to recover from a ruptured achilles suffered earlier this season. As a result, the seeded premier class field will consist of 19 racers and will in turn provide three transfer positions out of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). In the 250cc class, Team Honda HRC’s Jett Lawrence will contest the 450cc division as the third seed and will forgo his spot in the 250cc field. An additional vacancy will come from Team Honda HRC rookie Chance Hymas, who continues his recovery from a torn ACL suffered this summer. With the absence of two seeds, the 250cc class will provide four transfer positions out of the LCQ.
Athletes occupying positions 21 through 30 in the regular season standings automatically earn positions in the LCQ for each class at each respective playoff round. However, additional confirmations for the final SMX entry list have seen the group of LCQ participants expand in each division. In the 450cc class, injuries and other factors have led to notable exceptions that include Jose Butron (21st), Christian Craig (22nd), Lorenzo Locurcio (24th), Benny Bloss (28th), Romain Pape (29th), and Joey Savatgy (30th). Alternatively, those vacancies have allowed for the confirmations of Josh Cartwright, Jerry Robin, Jeremy Hand, Bryce Shelly, Jace Kessler, and Max Miller.
450cc SMX Playoff 1 LCQ Entrants (Unseeded)
#60 Justin Starling
#69 Phil Nicoletti
#80 Kevin Moranz
#91 Jeremy Hand
#93 Jerry Robin
#434 Bryce Shelly
#511 Jace Kessler
#519 Josh Cartwright
#604 Max Miller
In the 250cc division, injuries and other factors have led to notable exceptions that include Enzo Lopes (21st), Jeremy Martin (22nd), Mitchell Oldenburg (25th), Nate Thrasher (26th), Daxton Bennick (28th), Stilez Robertson (29th), and Cameron McAdoo (30th). As a result, those vacancies have allowed for the confirmations of Austin Forkner, Coty Schock, Preston Kilroy, Josh Varize, Michael Hicks, Hunter Yoder, and Luke Neese.
250cc SMX Playoff 1 LCQ Entrants (Unseeded)
#41 Derek Kelley
#42 Joshua Varize
#55 Austin Forkner
#57 Chris Blose
#67 Cullin Park
#71 Preston Kilroy
#125 Luke Neese
#285 Coty Schock
#460 Michael Hicks
#508 Hunter Yoder
"You can see the importance rising each and every weekend for these riders...to be a part of the inaugural season of the SMX World Championship and the SMX Playoffs that start this weekend at zMax Dragway, it's special. Not many times in life do you have opportunity to be a part of inaugural events and I think it comes at a great time within the sport," said lead broadcast analyst and 15-time AMA Champion, Ricky Carmichael.
The broadcast talent bringing the action from zMAX Dragway to viewers around the world will feature the best of both the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship and the Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing. Play-by-play duties will be handled by Jason Weigandt, who will be joined in the announcers booth by Ricky Carmichael and James Stewart, a pair of AMA Hall of Famers with decorated resumes that make them ideal for the role of color analysts. Additionally, trackside reporting duties will be shared by Will Christien and Jason Thomas, as they bring the breaking news from the paddock, mechanics area, and team manager tower.
An action-packed schedule from Concord will feature two days of on-track action and fan activities at zMAX Dragway. Friday “FanFest” will kick off with a pre-race press conference at 11 a.m. ET, followed by free practice for both classes starting at 12:15 p.m. ET, as riders will get their first glimpse at the unique challenges of a hybrid track design consisting of the best elements of the Supercross and Pro Motocross disciplines.
FanFest Friday also includes a pit bike race that will feature Carson Brown, Brian Deegan, Ryan Villopoto and others. The pit bike superpole will take place at 4:30 p.m. ET, followed by a live SMX Insiders show at 6:00 p.m. ET, hosted by Jason Weigandt and Jason Thomas. The SMX Insiders show will also feature special guests Ricky Carmichael, James Stewart, and Ryan Villopoto. The two moto format pit bike race will follow starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Gates open at 8 a.m. ET on Saturday morning for FanFest, before qualifying gets underway at 9 a.m. ET. Opening ceremonies for the inaugural SMX Playoff round will commence at 2:30 p.m. ET, followed by a historic first gate drop at 3 p.m. ET.