With a main-event win the evening of May 13 aboard his CRF450RWE in Salt Lake City’s Rice-Eccles Stadium, Chase Sexton wrapped up the 2023 450SX Championship at the AMA Supercross series finale. This premier-class crown follows on the heels of twin 250SX titles by Sexton’s Team Honda HRC colleagues, with Jett Lawrence having clinched the West Region Championship last weekend in Denver and Hunter Lawrence having earned the East Region laurels two weeks ago in Nashville, Tennessee.
This one was particularly hard-earned, as the grueling, 17-round series eliminated a number of top riders through injury. Sexton persevered, collecting six main-event wins, and he was consistently the fastest rider of all, qualifying on top at 14 of the 17 rounds. The 23-year-old set several season-best marks, including most podium finishes (13), most top-five results (16), most heat-race wins (eight) and most laps led. Of note was Sexton’s upward trajectory; while his pure speed was impressive all season, he had to work hard to eliminate errors that cost him wins in the early rounds.
A native of La Moille, Illinois, Sexton is a longtime member of the Honda family, having signed with Factory Connection’s amateur squad in 2015. In 2018 he transitioned to that operation’s professional team, with whom he won the 250SX East Region Championship in 2019 and 2020. Sexton moved up to the factory Honda squad midyear, and he was a regular podium finisher during the 2021 season. Last year saw him earn his first AMA Supercross premier-class win, and he was victorious often outdoors, battling Eli Tomac hard throughout the series before finishing a close second in the title chase.
“Wow, 2023 450 Supercross Champion — it doesn’t even feel real yet,” an emotional Sexton said following the race. “It’s what I’ve worked for since I was two-and-a-half years old, when I first got on a dirt bike; since then, this has been the goal. This year was definitely not easy; I was up-and-down in the middle of the season, but I got four of the last six wins — really came on strong at the end, when I needed to. It means so much to me. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people around me — our team, everybody. I’m super, super thankful and happy.”
Sexton’s crown means a great deal to everyone at Team Honda HRC and American Honda — even more than such an accomplishment normally would; although Honda has the most AMA Supercross race wins of any manufacturer (228, or 44 more than second place), the premier-class AMA Supercross title has eluded the company since Ricky Carmichael earned it 20 years ago. That said, this is the 16th time that Honda has won the title (a record), with past Honda champions including such legends as Donnie Hansen, David Bailey, Johnny O’Mara, Rick Johnson, Jeff Stanton, Jean-Michel Bayle, Jeremy McGrath and Carmichael.
This marks only the third time that a manufacturer has won all three AMA Supercross Championships in the same season, with one of the other two also having been accomplished by Honda; in 1991, Team Honda’s Bayle topped the premier class, with Peak/Pro Circuit Honda’s McGrath and Brian Swink taking the West and East crowns respectively. This latest title sweep marks the first time that it has been accomplished by one team, and Honda also collected the 2023 AMA Supercross Manufacturers Championship for the third consecutive time. In addition, Team Honda HRC rider Colt Nichols took the 2023 AMA 450SX Rookie of the Year Award. This all comes during a season in which Honda marks the 50th anniversary of its first production motocross bike, the CR250M Elsinore, which Gary Jones rode to Honda’s first AMA Motocross Championship in 1973.
“This has truly been an incredible AMA Supercross season, and Chase’s premier-class title is the cherry on top,” said Brandon Wilson, manager of sports and experiential at American Honda. “It has been a pleasure to witness Chase develop into the complete package over the past few months, adding consistency and race craft to the outright speed that he has exhibited for some time. As much as anyone, we at Honda know that the level of competition is as high as it gets in this series, so this is truly an impressive accomplishment. On behalf of everyone at American Honda and HRC, as well as Honda dealers, customers and fans, thank you to Chase and the entire team for putting us back on top.”
Sexton and the rest of Team Honda HRC now take a much-deserved one-week break before kicking off the AMA Pro Motocross series in Pala, California, on May 27.