News 16 Apr 2024

Why Lawrence must instantly fight back in 450SX title race

Hard charge to P5 in Foxborough wasn’t enough to remain sole points leader.

In three races, Jett Lawrence’s 21-point lead in the 450SX championship has evaporated and it’s all evened up heading into a four-race sprint to the finish. Each week, it’s been little things that have kept Lawrence from battling for the win and Foxborough came down to the start for the reigning 450SMX champion. Now Lawrence is eyeing a quick turnaround heading into the 14th round in Nashville.

Lawrence started between Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac in Foxborough, and both of the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing riders got a slight edge on Lawrence off the start. The resulting pinch between the two caused Lawrence to back out of it and in doing so, he locked bars with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Malcolm Stewart going into the first corner. Lawrence was officially credited with 12th on the first lap, but he seemed much further back than that.

Image: Octopi Media.

“This was not the end result we were looking for tonight,” said Lawrence. “The bike felt great, and my riding felt awesome—I just couldn’t link it with a start. I got a good jump, just slipped on a harder spot about 20 feet out. Unfortunately, in this class it’s game over without a good start. That’s a shame because I felt like I could be up front this weekend. We’ll move on to next weekend.”

Between the start, unintentional contact with Justin Barcia in St. Louis, and a perhaps rushed past on Cooper Webb in Seattle, it hasn’t been one main issue for Lawrence. When a championship lead disappears in a short span, usually there’s a crash or DNF of some sort, but not in this case.

The one catalyst that Lawrence has been struggling with is consistency in his starts. During a three-race win streak from round eight to round 10, Lawrence was strong off the start. Even in the Triple Crown in Indianapolis, he was up front each time. But Seattle, this past weekend in Foxborough, and two out of the three Triple Crown starts in St. Louis were not ideal for the Honda man.

“We’re going to come into the next round and work on starts, obviously,” said Lawrence about his workload heading into Nashville. “I want to show that I’m meant to be up there.”

Image: Octopi Media.

Allowing Cooper Webb back into a title fight is never ideal. While Webb has taken several 450SX titles down to the very end, including winning two of them, this is all a first go around for Lawrence who has never competed in a supercross series longer than 10 rounds.

In those two championship years, Webb only once finished off the podium in the final four race run. He won three races in those closing stages of the championship as well. Having done it before and to have momentum on his side, Webb might have hit his stride at just the right time.

“It was an unbelievable night to get another win and to be tied for the points lead,” said Webb. “It’s an amazing feeling. We’re going to give it all we can in these last four.”

So how does Jett Lawrence turn this around? Well, he must stop the bleeding. Webb has chunked away points while Lawrence has been left frustrated. One big way to change this entire narrative for the title fight in a hurry would be to win in Nashville this weekend.

Image: Octopi Media.

Another round where inclement weather could come into play, there’s certainly belief that it could play into Webb’s hands better. But Lawrence did win a mixed conditions race in Birmingham rather convincingly and the dirt in Nashville will certainly be a bit harder packed than the last few rounds.

The reality is momentum will play a big part in the final four races as the confidence flowing out of Webb is what ultimately Lawrence must put an end to. Nashville won’t decide the champion, but it very well could decide which trend we will see down the stretch run of the series.