Justin Barcia captured lightning in a bottle and took the win at Round 14 of the 2023 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season in East Rutherford, New Jersey
Eli Tomac finished second on the rain-drenched and deep-rutted track inside MetLife Stadium while Ken Roczen found enough track through the standing puddles to take home third place in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Max Anstie took his career-first win over the top racers from both regional divisions in the 250 class.
In an unprecedented weather delay, thunderclouds approaching MetLife Stadium required the racers on the starting line of the 250SX Class East/West Showdown to evacuate the starting area. The riders, along with every spectator in the stadium, retreated to cover for what turned out to be a 1.5 hour delay to the racing as the clouds dumped rain on the track.
When the gate finally dropped for the 450SX Class Main Event, Jason Anderson officially took the holeshot but it was Chase Sexton who immediately established himself as the race leader. The deep mud and chaotic first lap shuffle saw Barcia jump into the lead for a moment before Ken Roczen took it over. Barcia dropped back to third, but before the first pass through the whoops Barcia cut under Sexton. The two bikes made light contact and Sexton went down as half the pack raced past him.
Roczen stretched out his lead; just two and a half minutes into the race he held a three second gap over Barcia in the abbreviated 17-minute plus one lap race. Points leader Eli Tomac quickly established himself in third place ahead of Benny Bloss, Dean Wilson, and Kevin Moranz. Cooper Webb was fighting his way up from seventh place and Sexton had recovered from his tip over and ran eighth.
Less than four minutes in, the top three, Roczen, Barcia, and Tomac, had separated from the field while Sexton and Webb scrapped for fifth. Sexton quickly moved past Webb and set his sights on Bloss in fourth place.
Barcia’s wide-open riding style agreed with the brutal conditions, and six minutes into the race he was on Roczen. Barcia made the identical move on Roczen that he used on Sexton, but when Barcia took over the top spot Roczen stayed upright. From there Barcia pulled steadily away while Tomac inched closer to Roczen. Sexton was into fourth, but 23 seconds back from Tomac, with Webb in fifth 24 seconds back from Sexton.
The race action was with Tomac. The Yamaha rider got to Roczen’s rear fender with just over three minutes left on the race clock. After an exciting battle, Roczen tipped over in the whoops and Tomac took over the spot. Roczen was quickly back up without being in danger of losing the podium-place position.
From there the riders individually fought the track and did their best to preserve their motorcycles in the mud. Barcia took the win, his first since Houston 2021. Tomac earned second place and stretched his points lead to 11 over Cooper Webb. Roczen carded his fourth podium finish of the season with a third.
“I don’t remember practice. I don’t remember the heat race. But I remember that main event!” Barcia recounted. “I got out there and was battling with the boys, took the lead, rode away, and took the win. It was very special. The team crushed it, mud-prepped quick, and it was an awesome race. I don’t really know what else to say because I’m very happy!”
The East/West Showdown was a thrilling race that was worth the wait of the weather delay. Max Anstie grabbed the holeshot on the rain-drenched track. Max Vohland was in second with RJ Hampshire right behind. The Lawrence brothers were up front and after one muddy lap Jett Lawrence ran in fourth and Hunter Lawrence held fifth. The race made history as the first showdown of brothers who each led their division, but those brothers sat outside the top three at the start of the race.
Almost three minutes into the race, which was shortened to 12-minutes plus one lap, Jett Lawrence took advantage of a Hampshire mistake and took over third place. Three minutes later Jett Lawrence was pressuring Vohland for second as Anstie stretched out his lead to over six seconds. Hampshire applied pressure to take over third, but Jett Lawrence broke free from him again and got around Vohland for second place. Four and a half minutes remained on the race clock.
Hampshire was quickly around Vohland and chasing after Jett Lawrence. Hunter Lawrence soon pressured Vohland for the spot as Haiden Deegan closed on them both. With just over two minutes left, Anstie held a nine second lead while Deegan crashed trying to cut under Hunter Lawrence.
In the closing minutes, Jett Lawrence put in an amazing ride. He erased Anstie’s lead down to .9 seconds as they headed out on the final lap. Jett lost touch tossing his goggles but with a final surge pulled alongside Anstie in their last pass through the whoops. Anstie had the inside line in the next corner and accelerated back into the lead heading into the final corner.
Hampshire was still close to Jett Lawrence and charged hard to that last corner. Hampshire tried to scrub speed and duck underneath but slid out in a dramatic splash. The crash tripped Jett and his bike over onto Hampshire’s bike. Jett was quick to pull his bike free and accelerate away just as his brother entered the corner.
At the end Anstie took his first-ever Supercross win, Jett Lawrence got going in time to hold onto second place, and Hunter Lawrence crossed just behind his brother in third.
“I’ve had a lot of faith in Fire Power Honda since I first signed with the team,” Anstie declared. “It is so good to share this experience with them and be a part of their history. I knew what I had to do in order to execute in those conditions and we did that. It is just amazing! We will get back to work this week to see if we can do something similar in Nashville!”
It wasn’t the fairytale finish for Jett Lawrence but was happy to get to the chequered flag with a podium result.
“The ending of the race changed pretty quickly,” Jett explained. “I tried to cut down on Max [Anstie] but ended up spinning. I figured that was gone but at least I had second locked up. In the last turn, I just saw this giant wave come towards me; I had no chance to react. Luckily, I kept the bike running and could get going right away. Tonight was a race where taking a risk for two points could cost you 20 points, so I just wanted to race my race and stay off the ground. We’re happy to make it through to the checkered flag.”
Like his brother, Hunter Lawrence was also just happy to stay upright in the conditions and land a podium finish.
“My mechanic had put on the board ‘P5, calm,’ so I knew to just take it easy where I was,” Hunter explained. “The worst thing to do in a mud race is to fall—your gloves get all muddy and slippery and just make riding a nightmare. I saw RJ and Jett start to battle a little and just capitalized on how it all unfolded somehow. I’m pretty happy to stay off the ground and finish the race.”
Round 15 delivers a rare day race inside Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday, April 29.
450SX Class Results
1 Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS
2 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha
3 Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki
4 Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda
5 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM
6 Shane McElrath, Oakland, Fla., Suzuki
7 Kevin Moranz, Topeka, Kans., KTM
8 Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, Mo., Yamaha
9 Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., KTM
10 Dean Wilson, Menifee, Calif., Honda
450SX Class Championship Standings
1 Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (315)
2 Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (304)
3 Chase Sexton, Clermont, Fla., Honda (294)
4 Justin Barcia, Greenville, Fla., GASGAS (265)
5 Ken Roczen, Clermont, Fla., Suzuki (259)
6 Jason Anderson, Rio Rancho, N.Mex., Kawasaki (225)
7 Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (213)
8 Adam Cianciarulo, New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Kawasaki (155)
9 Justin Hill, Yoncalla, Ore., KTM (154)
10 Christian Craig, Clermont, Fla., Husqvarna (150)
East/West Showdown Results
1 Max Anstie, Cairo, Ga., Honda (East)
2 Jett Lawrence, Zephyrhills, Fla., Honda (West)
3 Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (East)
4 Max Vohland, Granite Bay, Calif., KTM (West)
5 Enzo Lopes, Chesterfield, S.C., Yamaha (West)
6 Haiden Deegan, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha (East)
7 Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Kawasaki (West)
8 Cullin Park, Clermont, Fla., Honda (East)
9 Jo Shimoda, Menifee, Calif., Kawasaki (East)
10 Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Kawasaki (East)
Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
1 Hunter Lawrence, Wesley Chapel, Fla., Honda (198)
2 Haiden Deegan, Tallahassee, Fla., Yamaha (149)
3 Max Anstie, Cairo, Ga., Honda (148)
4 Nate Thrasher, Livingston, Tenn., Yamaha (120)
5 Jordon Smith, Ochlocknee, Ga., Yamaha (120)
6 Chris Blose, Phoenix, Ariz., Kawasaki (117)
7 Jeremy Martin, Rochester, Minn., Yamaha (111)
8 Cullin Park, Clermont, Fla., Honda (96)
9 Tom Vialle, Murrieta, Calif., KTM (95)
10 Coty Schock, Dover, Del., Honda (83)
Western Regional 250SX Class Championship Standings
1 Jett Lawrence, Zephyrhills, Fla., Honda (176)
2 RJ Hampshire, Minneola, Fla., Husqvarna (137)
3 Enzo Lopes, Chesterfield, S.C., Yamaha (118)
4 Levi Kitchen, Havana, Fla., Yamaha (112)
5 Max Vohland, Granite Bay, Calif., KTM (104)
6 Cameron McAdoo, Sioux City, Iowa, Kawasaki (101)
7 Mitchell Oldenburg, Godley, Tex., Honda (99)
8 Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GASGAS (98)
9 Cole Thompson, Brigden, Ont., Yamaha (73)
10 Derek Kelley, Riverside, Calif., KTM (70)