Chase Sexton was set to make up significant points on Eli Tomac in the Detroit Monster Energy Supercross race, but he was prepared to settle for second-place until a bizarre accident erased a four-second lead by Aaron Plessinger on the final lap. After the race, Sexton was penalized for jumping on a red cross flag. He will keep the win, but he has been docked seven championship points.
Plessinger took the lead from Adam Cianciarulo early in the night and was cruising toward victory when his toe dug into the dirt and pulled him off his bike. Plessinger tried to hang onto the handlebars, but a hard fall dropped him and his damaged bike from first to 13th in the final rundown.
“That one hurts,” Plessinger told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “That one hurts a lot. I was riding so good. I didn’t stand up in that rut the whole moto. I sat down and put my foot out and the one time I though it was alright to stand up and it catches my foot and rips me right off of the bike.
“I couldn’t believe it, flying through the air like that. … It was a hard hit. I tried to get back up and the bike was smoking. I probably could have finished, but man that hurts. We’ll get back up on the saddle and get back up there in Seattle.”
Plessinger was on his way to a first career win and his second podium of the season.
RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Detroit
Chase inherited the top spot after seeing the leader crash, but that was a circumstance Sexton knows all too well after crashing during lead battles in multiple races this season.
“Honestly, I’ve been in that position too many times,” Sexton told Will Christien. “I was bummed to see Aaron fall. I was pretty far back in lapped traffic, but I rode solid the whole Main event. I came from probably eighth and clawed my way to the front. I needed this. This is a big win for me. I’ve had some tough races and this one means a lot.”
With Plessinger’s fall, the three main rivals for the 2023 Supercross championship finished 1-2-3 for the fifth time this year, but this was the first time all three were embroiled in such a tight battle in the middle stages of a race with Webb and Tomac swapping positions as Sexton roared through the field.
Cooper Webb finished second and extended his points’ lead over Tomac to three as the season rolls into Seattle next week.
“Crazy race,” Webb said. “A lot of battling, we were all right there and then that red cross incident happened and Chase was able to get away. I was just chilling. I thought a penalty was coming [on Chase]. I was just riding my race, I was getting a little gap on Eli and I was just being smart.”
Sexton was the first to jump in a red cross flag condition in the middle of the race. Sexton believed Dean Wilson’s crash was dealt with when the rider stood up and went back to racing. His win comes with the knowledge that penalties could still be forthcoming.
Tomac rebounded from a disappointing race last week when he scored his worst result of the season in eighth. Prior to his heat, he revealed that he was struggling with a strained neck at Indianapolis, which continued to be a factor at Detroit.
“I was in a pretty good position there and just made a bad lane choice in the 90 degree turn just before the tabletop and left the door open for Cooper,” Tomac said. “That was the changing part of the race, just getting behind that group again.”
Adam Cianciarulo won the holeshot and took the early lead before ultimately falling to eighth.
Here’s your 250 and 450 Main Event results from round 🔟 in Detroit 📋 #SupercrossLIVE #SuperMotocross pic.twitter.com/CMgVuZEaZd
— Supercross LIVE! (@SupercrossLIVE) March 19, 2023
Hunter Lawrence took the early lead and kept it until the end on his way to winning his fifth race of 2023 and 10th of his career. With this win, he ties his brother Jett Lawrence for 17th on the all-time wins’ list one week before the 250 West riders take to track next week in Seattle.
With five wins and a third in six races this season, Lawrence is riding away from the competition, who have each had their share of mistakes.
“It was cool,” Lawrence said from the top of the podium. “I love a good win, but I think the real winners this night are these crazy fans from Detroit. It is cold out there. It is freezing and everyone just ground it out.”
Nate Thrasher led his heat flag-to-flag and it seemed he might be able to put some pressure on Lawrence. He finished a distant 7.6 seconds behind.
“We got a good start, but when you’re racing a guy like that, you’ve got to have the holeshot,” Thrasher said. “He ran good tonight, kudos to him, but we’re going to keep fighting and hopefully we will be on the top step before too long.”
Click here for full 250 Main Results
Thrasher’s strong run, coupled with an accident for Max Anstie, allowed him to improve to second in the standings.
Deegan made the pass for third with five and a half minutes remaining on the clock to score his second career podium in his sixth start.
“I was just out there sending it,” Deegan said. “I love getting on the podium like this.”
But there was big drama in the 250 Heat 1. Deegan got the early lead, but Jordon Smith tracked him down and blazed past in the whoops.
Deegan had the inside line and ran Smith up the track, and over the next couple of turns Deegan rode Smith high in each corner until Smith finally had enough and ran into the back of Deegan’s bike. Smith was the loser in this altercation and he crashed.
Two more accidents in the heat sealed his fate and sent Smith into the LCQ, where Smith stalled his bike heavy traffic. Somehow, he remarkably worked his way into a fight for the final transfer spot of fourth. On the final turn, he tried to get alongside Jack Chambers but ran out of room and into a Tough Blox.
“It was a racing incident,” Deegan said of his run-in with Smith. “He’s my teammate; we’re cool. I’m sorry to make it a little gnarly if you guys think that, but I’m just out there having fun and rubbing is racing, so let’s go baby.”
In the post-race news conference, Deegan continued to downplay the incident.
Max Anstie entered Detroit second in the standing with 22 points up make up on Lawrence. He crashed on the first lap and damaged his bike, ultimately falling out of the race with a damaged bike. He fell to fifth in the standings and is now 47 points behind the leader with four races remaining.
2023 Race Recaps
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time
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Results and Points after Indy