The first round of East Coast Supercross was one for celebration for Wiseco riders, with X2 and Wiseco-backed teams occupying the entire 250SX Class podium. Check out all the details and photos here.
Wiseco power was on full display Saturday night at the Tampa (Fla.) Supercross when Shane McElrath, Chase Sexton, and Jeremy Martin swept the top three spots of the podium as the Eastern Regional 250SX Class opened their portion of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season at Raymond James Stadium.
McElrath, whose Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha YZ250F depends on Wiseco’s X2 valves, led all 19 laps en route to the checkered flag and assumed control of the Eastern Regional points by virtue of his seventh career 250SX Class win.
The rider of the No. 12 Yamaha transitioned from the Troy Lee Designs KTM team to Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha for 2020. The move looks to be paying dividends and the North Carolina native will sport the red number plate, signifying the series’ point leader next weekend. The 25-year-old pointed to off-season preparation as a key component to his early success following the checkered flag.
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“I really think it’s because everything is still so fresh from the off season,” said McElrath who has won the opening round in three of the last four seasons. “We’ve been working a lot and it shows on a night like this. I’m excited to get back to it. We’ve made a lot of progress, but at the same time, we’ve only had three months of working on things. I’m excited to get back to it.”
Defending champion Chase Sexton finished second aboard his No. 1 GEICO Honda CRF250R, while teammate Jeremy Martin, who was the 250SX Class fast qualifier, came home third in his first race back since missing the entire 2019 season with a back injury.
“It’s been a long time to be back up here,” explained Martin. “I didn’t expect to be the fastest qualifier, I was just hoping to be top five, honestly, and next thing you know I was at the top of the board. As I was sitting on the (starting) line, even before the main, I was like ‘Dude, you had a job last year at this time. You were working at your buddies’ dealership.’ So, for me, it was cool being back doing what I love. I had a massive, new appreciation. I thought I appreciated racing in the past but I’m truly lucky to be here. I’m looking forward to this second chance. Here we go.”
For Sexton’s part, the defending Eastern Regional 250 SX Class champion ran near the front of the field for the entirety of the 15-minute-plus-one-lap main event and came out on top in the battle of GEICO Honda teammates. While he ultimately yields the red No. 1 plate, signifying the series’ point leader, to McElrath for the next round, the Illinois native has no intention of resting on his laurels.
“There’s obviously a little weight that goes along with carrying the No. 1 plate, but, for me, it’s an honor,” commented Sexton. “It’s been a dream since I was little, so I like the pressure. Unfortunately, it’s not going to be red next week, so I’m going to try and get it back. I like running the red plate because it’s cool. You want to go out and perform for all the people who put in so much hard work. We made big strides this off season, so I want to give it up to my team and I’m looking forward to next weekend.”
In the premiere 450SX Class, Ken Roczen jockeyed his No. 94 Team Honda HRC CRF450R to his third top three in seven races. Roczen was third- and second-fastest, respectively, in the day’s twin qualifying sessions and went on to win his heat race. Unfortunately, the German-born rider struggled with the gate drop and spent much of the main event trying to catch the leaders. Despite a mid-race fall that undoubtedly stalled his forward progress, Roczen flexed his Wiseco muscle and raced his way back to snare a podium finish.
In the end, the Supercross journeyman slipped to second in the title hunt but only four points separate him from leader and race-winner Eli Tomac with more than half the season still in the balance.
Roczen’s Team Honda HRC teammate, Justin Brayton, also struggled out of the starting gate but managed to contain the damage and earn a respectable ninth-place finish.
“It’s a bummer to lose the points lead but there’s a whole lot of racing left, and overall I’m happy with how my day went,” said Roczen. “I was pretty consistent throughout the day – I just didn’t get the starts I needed. I lifted my body up too much, so I was a bit deeper in the pack and had to work my way up to the front. Then, ultimately, I tucked the front (end) off the triple, which cost me a lot of time. I’m still happy to be back on the podium. I appreciate being up here because on weekends like last weekend, when I’m far away from it, it’s not so nice. No red plate for right now, but I’ll keep trying to fight back for it and keep a positive mindset.”
Monster Energy AMA Supercross makes its traditional visit to the Dallas Metroplex this weekend when the best riders in the world return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The eighth of 17 races on the 2020 schedule will be televised live on NBCSN Sat., February 22 beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 5:30 p.m. Pacific.