Chase Sexton was expected to make significant points on Eli Tomac in the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross race, but he was willing to settle for second place until a bizarre last-lap accident wiped out a four-second lead held by Aaron Plessinger.
Plessinger took the lead from Adam Cianciarulo early in the night and was heading towards victory when his toe dug into the dirt and pulled him off his bike. Plessinger tried to hold on to the handlebars, but a bad fall knocked him and his damaged bike from first to 13th place in the final rundown.
“It hurts,” Plessinger told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “It hurts a lot. I rode so well. I didn’t stand the whole moto in that rut. I sat down and stretched out my foot and the one time I thought it was okay to stand up it caught my foot and blew me right off the bike.
“I couldn’t believe I was flying through the air like that. … It was a hard blow. I tried to get back up and the bike was smoking. I probably could have finished, but man, that hurts. We’ll get back on the saddle and be back up there in Seattle.
Plessinger was on course for his first career win and second podium of the season.
RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Detroit
Chase inherited the top spot after seeing the leader fall, but that was a circumstance Sexton knows all too well, having fallen in leadership battles in several races this season.
“Honestly, I’ve been in that position too many times,” Sexton told Will Christien. “I was disappointed when I saw Aaron fall. I was pretty far back in the lapped traffic, but I rode solidly throughout the main event. I probably came from eighth place and fought my way up. I needed this. This is a big win for me. I’ve had some tough races and this one means a lot to me.”
With Plessinger’s fall, The three main contenders for the 2023 Supercross Championship finished 1-2-3 for the fifth time this yearbut this was the first time all three had been involved in such a close fight in the middle stages of a race, with Webb and Tomac swapping positions as Sexton roared through the field.
Cooper Webb finished second, extending his lead over Tomac to three points when the season begins in Seattle next week.
“Crazy race,” Webb said. “A lot of fights, we were fine and then this incident with the Red Cross happened and Chase was able to escape. i was just chilling I thought a penalty was coming [on Chase]. I just rode my race, I had a little gap to Eli and I was just smart.”
Sexton was the first to jump under a Red Cross flag mid-race. Sexton believed Dean Wilson’s crash was resolved when the driver got up and started racing again. His victory comes with the knowledge that penalties could still lie ahead.
Tomac bounced back from a disappointing race last week when he finished eighth for his worst result of the season. Ahead of his Heat, he revealed he was struggling with a strained neck in Indianapolis, which continued to be a factor in Detroit.
“I was in a pretty good position there and just made a bad lane choice on the 90 just before the table top and left the door open for Cooper,” Tomac said. “That was the changing part of the race, just getting back behind that group.”
Adam Cianciarulo won the holeshot and took the early lead before eventually dropping to eighth place.
Hunter Lawrence took the lead early and kept it to the end on his way to winning his fifth race of 2023 and the tenth of his career. With that victory, he joins his brother Jett Lawrence in 17th place on the all-time winners list, a week before the 250 West riders hit the track in Seattle next week.
With five wins and a third in six races this season, Lawrence is pulling away from the competition, each of which has had its fair share of penalties.
“It was cool,” said Lawrence from the top of the podium. “I love a good win, but I think the real winners tonight are these crazy Detroit fans. It’s cold out there. It’s freezing and everyone just threw it out.”
Nate Thrasher led his heat flag-to-flag and it seemed like he could put some pressure on Lawrence. He finished 7.6 seconds back.
“We got off to a good start, but when you’re racing with a guy like that, you have to have the holeshot,” Thrasher said. “He ran well tonight, kudos to him but we’ll keep fighting and hopefully be on the top step soon.”
Click here for the full 250 main results
Thrasher’s strong run coupled with an accident for Max Anstie allowed him to move up to second place overall.
Deegan made it to third with five and a half minutes to go, scoring his second career podium in his sixth start.
“I was just out there broadcasting it,” Deegan said. “I love being on the podium like that.”
But in 250 Heat 1 there was a lot of drama. Deegan took an early lead but Jordon Smith tracked him down and sped past in the whoops.
Deegan had the inside line and rode Smith up the track, and over the next few turns, Deegan rode Smith up every turn until Smith finally had enough and ran into the rear of Deegan’s bike. Smith was the loser in this confrontation and he fell.
Two more crashes in the heat sealed his fate and sent Smith into the LCQ, where Smith brought his heavy traffic to a halt on his bike. Somehow he remarkably worked his way into a fight for the final transfer spot in fourth. In the last corner he tried to get alongside Jack Chambers, but he ran out of space and went into a Tough Blox.
“It was a racing accident,” Deegan said of his encounter with Smith. “He’s my teammate; we are cool. I’m sorry to be a little gnarly if you think so but I’m just out there having fun and rubbing is racing so let’s go baby.
In the post-race press conference, Deegan further downplayed the incident.
Max Anstie entered Detroit second overall, 22 points clear of Lawrence. He crashed on the first lap, damaging his bike and eventually retiring with a damaged bike. He dropped to fifth in the standings and is now 47 points off the leader with four races to go.
Race recaps 2023
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets his first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes on two from Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb claims first win of 2023
Houston: Tomac recovers from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton and Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for first time
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Ken Roczen describes the dramatic Indy win at track 24
Results and points after Indy