RACER X | Chase Sexton talks Winning Washougal
Honda HRC’s Chase Sexton broke through for his first win of 2021 by carrying 1-3 scores for the overall at Washougal, which hosted round seven of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship. Sexton grabbed a rare holeshot in the first moto and held steady from there. In the second moto, he ran second behind Dylan Ferrandis until Eli Tomac overhauled him late in the race. The third was enough to edge Tomac’s 2-2 for the overall.
Here’s what Chase had to say after the race.
Chase, you said on the podium that starts were a big change. When you are struggling with starts, how difficult is it to adjust and keep your cool when you suddenly get a holeshot? You said you’ve never had a holeshot in pro motocross before. How do you adjust to a completely different type of race?
Chase Sexton: For me, I finally got a holeshot and I’ve been saying if I can just get a good start, I’ll be fine. I finally got one. I told myself, “If I lose this race it’s not going to look good on me.” It was nice to get out front and not have to eat roost at all and go up the first hill. Especially in the 450 class, the roost is pretty gnarly. It was awesome to finally get a holeshot and to lead every lap of that race. Then the second moto was a really good battle with Eli and Dylan. So, it was overall a good day for me. First win of the year. It’s been a long time coming. Been an up-and-down season for me, so I’m just excited to finally get a win and repay the team and myself for the hard work we’ve been putting in and not getting the best result. I’m excited.
Can you talk a little bit about the pressure and the expectations that you have as the future of the team, HRC, and how that affects or doesn’t affect your racing on Saturdays? Does it sometimes become more of a mental factor than your physical or your race craft abilities?
I wouldn’t say so. I hold myself to a very high standard. So, I always tell people that no one can have any higher expectations than I have for myself. So, it doesn’t really bother me. I’m racing for a corporation and it’s not like the GEICO days, there is that, but for me, I try and do the best I possibly can. I’m happy when I ride to my ability and obviously I’m not when I go out there and flounder. It was just nice to repay the team for a lot of their hard work. We finally figured out something with the bike last week at Millville. It was nice to translate it into today and finally get a win and a podium. It’s exciting, but I wouldn’t say there’s any added pressure for me.
There’s a bit of chatter around this weekend about the MXDN team. Is it something you’ve been asked about? Is it something you’d be open to going for Team USA, if you got the chance?
One hundred percent. I would love to go. I was a little bit nervous there because I knew I was on the list to get picked to go, but there were a few rounds there where I was riding around in eighth and it wasn’t looking good for me to get picked. I hope this weekend I get put to the top of the list. I would love to go. It would be an honor to represent my country. I really want to go race the MXGP guys. That would be fun as well. To answer your question, I’m 100 percent in it if I get picked.
You mentioned changes last week that you found. It’s a new bike for ’21. First time outdoors on it. What did you find? Give us some specifics.
For me, I’m really sensitive to the balance of the bike. If the rear is high, I tend to ride really tight and I don’t necessarily ever feel comfortable, even if the bike is working decent. So, we actually ended up cutting the sub-frame last weekend five millimeters after the first practice. I came back and just wasn’t comfortable at all. Cut the sub-frame and that’s pretty much it. I think we went a little bit stiffer just to compensate for lowering the rear. For the starts this weekend, we did a map change where I can’t go over I think 9,000 RPM. I tend to rev a little too high. On the starting line I can’t really hear my bike that well, so it hits a little rev limiter and then I know to back it down. So, that I think helped a lot today on the starts.
That second moto, you had that awesome battle with Eli and also with Dylan. You were right in the middle there. Once Eli got past you, those guys were on heaters for last stage of that race. When you went over the finish line and we see your head went down, was that just disappointment you weren’t up there, or was that just you had won and you finally got that monkey off your back?
I actually didn’t know. I was kind of doing math in my head. I knew if Eli didn’t get to Dylan, that I thought I won. But I wasn’t 100 percent sure if I won when I crossed the finish line. I was pretty tired. I put in a pretty big effort to get to the back of Dylan, then I just couldn’t get around him. I kind of just lost my speed, and obviously Eli was on a mission. I think he ran the fastest lap of the race by I think over a second or close to a second two laps to go. So, he was definitely riding well and I didn’t have anything to keep him behind me. Once he passed me, it kind of took the wind out of my sails and I kind of just cruised. I had a little bit of arm pump, actually, which is weird because I don’t usually get arm pump, but with how choppy the track was I think that’s kind of why I got it. Those guys were riding really good. I dropped off pretty big. Eli was going really fast, but I think Dylan just kind of maintained. I dropped off pretty heavy. I didn’t know I won the race until I got to the podium.
You have a two-week break just as you’re peaking. How do you keep your momentum and your rhythm ready for Unadilla with a two-week break?
I don’t want to say that the break came at the wrong time. Four races in a row is not a lot, but it gets a little bit grueling. I think everyone is kind of ready for a little bit of a break. For me, I’m just now starting to get where I feel like I’m back where I belong. But I don't think the break is going to change anything. I’m going to California this week to do a little bit of testing and fine-tune some stuff that I’m struggling a little bit with. Go test. This week I probably won’t do any motos. I’ll probably just work on the bike and get that thing figured out, then I’ll head back to Florida and just keep doing my motos and trying to get better. Keep getting that intensity in practice. I was struggling a little bit the beginning of this year with the intensity late in the moto, so I’ve really been trying to focus on that in practice as much as I can because it's hard to replicate that intensity. Keep trying to do that and keep chasing the clock during practice and come into Unadilla ready to go. I like the rest of the tracks. Unadilla is a really good track for me with the ruts. Then Budds Creek. Ironman is a really good track, and then we head back to California. So, I’m excited. These last five rounds are going to be fun. Looking forward to having this little break, but also get back to racing.