GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton closed the deal Saturday night before a raucous, sold-out Las Vegas crowd and rode a fourth-place finish to his first Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship.
Sexton, who picked up his first professional victory one week ago in East Rutherford, N.J., came into the final points race of the season with a nine-point cushion, looking to jockey last week’s winning momentum into a championship.
Despite the obvious pressures that go hand-in-hand with racing for such a prestigious title at a young age, the 19-year-old Wiseco-sponsored rider kept his composure, performed like a seasoned veteran and brought home the hardware.
“It feels super good,” said a beaming Sexton in the post-race press conference. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet but being only 19-years-old and winning my first Supercross championship is unbelievable. That was the longest 15 minutes-plus-one (lap) I’ve ever done. The track was gnarly but to do this for myself and for the team feels awesome. It couldn’t have happened any better.”
Sexton, who finished his 2019 Supercross campaign with 193 points, logged one win, four top-two and seven top- three finishes in nine races. The Illinois native won four heat races, earned seven podiums and never finished outside the top five. Still, with less than 10 points separating Sexton from his closest title competitor, the rider of the No. 23 Honda CRF250R knew the 2019 championship was anything but a foregone conclusion.
“I was just focusing on my race,” added Sexton who won the 250SX East Class heat race earlier in the day. “I was trying to go forward as best I could and still stay out of the carnage. I didn’t want to do anything too crazy or make a dumb mistake. It became really hard to decide if what I was doing was a good move or a bad move to go for it. I’m pretty proud of how I handled it. I didn’t know where Justin (championship contender Justin Cooper) was. I just knew he wasn’t in front of me and that’s all I cared about.”
While only one GEICO Honda rider left Las Vegas with the title, two others notched podium finishes in the season finale. R.J. Hampshire, who snagged the holeshot in both his heat race and the main event, finished second to eventual race winner and Western Regional 250SX Class Champion Dylan Ferrandis. Sexton’s fellow GEICO Honda teammate Cameron McAdoo came home third. Over 10 rounds, Hampshire rode one podium finish and five top fours into a fourth-place finish in the season-ending 250SX West Class points.
“Was a really cool day for my whole team,” explained Hampshire. “I rode well in practice and felt like my bike was working good. Got the holeshot in the heat and also the main. I struggled bad in the first half of the main and really had to take a couple steps back to regroup and figure out what I needed to change. For once, I actually felt like a veteran and made a pretty smart call. I even let Chase by because I was getting so sketchy and I didn’t want to end up going down and taking him out with me. I followed him for a couple laps to hopefully learn something in the whoops. It started coming together then I saw my pit board said ‘4 laps, all out.’ I went for it and it paid off. I was able to get to second. Really happy to see the team have so much success on the night!”
Across the paddock, in the premier 450SX Class pits, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely finished fourth and sixth, respectively. While neither Roczen nor Seely broke through for a win in 2019, both riders were upbeat following the 17th and final Supercross race of the season.
“I’m pretty happy with how Las Vegas went,” commented Roczen. “I struggled in the heat (race), but we went back to an earlier setting and things were a lot better in the main. I still didn’t get the best start, but made some passes pretty quick, working my way into fourth. I actually felt good throughout the whole race and didn’t lose steam, which is what I’ve been fighting a lot this season. We’re still trying to fully figure out what was or is going on, but it seems to be a little better than before. I’m so happy to make it through a whole supercross season and am looking forward to heading into outdoors.”
With only two weeks separating the end of the Monster Energy Supercross season from the beginning of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, there won’t be much downtime as teams prepare for the rigors of the 12-race outdoor schedule.
The first moto from the Bell Helmets Hangtown Motocross Classic from Prairie City SVRA in Sacramento, Calif., will be televised live on MAVTV Sat., May 18 beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1 p.m., Pacific. Television coverage for the second moto will shift to NBCSN at 6 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m., Pacific.