News 25 Feb 2020

Roczen secures second at Arlington Supercross

Image: Supplied.

Honda Racing Corporation press release:

Round 8 of the 2020 AMA Supercross series in Arlington, Texas’s AT&T Stadium marked the second Triple Crown event of the season, and Team Honda’s Ken Roczen went into it with high hopes, having swept the previous event that was run under the three-race format, in Glendale, Arizona. Although the German didn’t ultimately capture another victory, he and his team were pleased to come away with an impressive second-place finish, via 1-7-2 results, leaving them in the championship hunt.

Roczen started the night on a strong note, launching out of the gate to a third-place race-one start and making some aggressive passes to take over the lead on the first lap. He continued to impress out front, riding flawlessly to take the win in the first race. He was unable to replicate his start in the second race, as he bobbled out of the gate and was shuffled to the middle of the pack, coming around in 10th. He struggled to make the necessary passes, battling hard but swapping back and forth before taking the checkered flag in seventh. In the final race, Roczen started in fourth and spent the subsequent 17 laps in a heated four-way battle, ultimately reaching the finish in second.

It was an all-around tough day for Roczen’s teammate Justin Brayton, as a number of crashes throughout the day and evening ultimately led to his early retirement from the second race, and his non-participation in the third.
Prior to Saturday’s gate drop, Al Lamb’s Dallas Honda hosted an open house, where hundreds of fans were in attendance to meet their favorite Red Riders. On hand were Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Justin Brayton, GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton and Jo Shimoda, and Team BWR Engines Honda.

Smartop/MotoConcepts/Bullfrog Spas Honda’s Justin Hill was on fire during daytime qualifying, topping both sessions aboard his CRF450R and securing the quickest time with a 45.968’ lap. Roczen was sixth-fastest with a 46.765’ lap, while Brayton was ninth with a time of 47.185’. Hill’s teammates Malcolm Stewart and Vince Friese were 13thand 18th, respectively.

There were technically three racers under the Team Honda HRC tent in Arlington, as Brayton’s daughter Parker participated in the STACYC Holeshot Challenge following the first 450SX race. With short turnaround times between races, Justin was unable to be on the line with Parker, but she was joined by her mother Paige and team press manager Mandie Fonteyn. Prior to the challenge, Parker had joined her father for the opening ceremonies.

The Arlington Supercross marked round two of the 250SX East series, and GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton put together a stellar performance, securing the overall victory aboard his CR250R with 2-1-2 finishes. In the night’s first race, Sexton got off to a third-place start, moving into second on lap four. He then set his sights on RJ Hampshire, closed the gap and made a blistering pass through the whoops to take over the front spot. Unfortunately, it was short-lived as he was taken down by Hampshire. Sexton remounted in fifth and put together a hard charge, working his way back into second by the checkered flag. Sexton came back with vengeance in the second race, getting a strong start and moving into the lead on the opening lap. From there, the defending champion stayed in front to the end, taking a dominant win.

When the gate dropped on the final race, Sexton once again started well and quickly settled into second, which is where he finished. His GEICO Honda teammate Jeremy Martin also had a strong showing, finishing just shy of the podium in fourth, via 5-3-4 finishes. Meanwhile, rookie Jo Shimoda scored another top-10 finish in only his second professional supercross race, landing 10thwith 14-10-8 results.

As usual, there were more Hondas than any other brand in the night program, with six in 450SX and eight in 250SX East.
As the series approaches the halfway point, Roczen sits second in the 450SX standings with 174 points, only seven out of the championship lead. Stewart rests seventh with 122, while Hill has 110 points in eighth. Brayton rounds out the top 10 with 105 points.

This coming Saturday, Team Honda HRC will be in Atlanta, Georgia, to take on round nine of the AMA Supercross series. On the eve of the race, Roczen and Brayton will participate in press day, giving them the opportunity to preview the track. Then they’ll head to Mountain Motorsports of Marietta for an autograph session from 6 to 7 p.m.

Ken Roczen:
The first main was really good. I made some moves early and while I wouldn’t say I checked out, I rode up front the whole race. It was good to get that first win and start with a low number for the night’s overall points. I think the second race is the most important and we wanted to go out there and get a good finish, but it just wasn’t our race at all. I didn’t get the start I wanted and then couldn’t find the same momentum. I’m happy with how we executed the last race though. I battled hard and went back and forth with Eli [Tomac] a couple times and just rode much better in traffic, having people in front of me and making some passes. All in all, with how many crashes there were throughout the whole day and night, and how I struggled with the track overall, I’m really happy to come away healthy and with second overall.

Justin Brayton:
Man, what a rough night. I had five crashes in one day—that’s more than I’ve had total in the past few years! I had three in practice, and the last one I thought was going to end my night. I caught my foot on the takeoff of the finish-line jump and it sent me down hard. I decided to suit up for the races after being checked out and cleared by the medical staff. In the first race, I got a good start, was running in fifth and feeling good. Unfortunately, with a few minutes to go, I crashed in the whoops. Then in the second ra, race, I crashed again, high-siding in a corner, and that one ended my night. I’m honestly sitting here in disbelief about how it all happened, but I’m also thankful nothing is seriously injured and I’ll be good for Atlanta.