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This Week in SuperMotocross: Pro Motocross at Pala

May 23, 2024

450 Storylines: Round 17 Salt Lake City Recap

Jett Lawrence

Jett Lawrence: Cruised to a 7th-place finish to clinch the 450SX Class Championship. He is only the third Premier Class rookie to win the title (Jeremy McGrath & Ryan Dungey). Honda now has 17 Premier Class titles and has gone back-to-back for the first time since 2002-2003. Lawrence started all 17 rounds and finished inside the top-10 every time, highlighted by 10 podiums, 13 top-5’s, and 8 victories. His seventh AMA Championship is already good for 6th all-time, tied with Rick Johnson, Jeff Ward, and James Stewart.

Chase Sexton

Chase Sexton: Scored his ninth 450SX Class win, which is good for 25th on the all-time Premier Class wins list. It was his second win of the season and 22nd of his SMX career, good for 31st all-time. The 2023 Champion finished 3rd in the point standings.

Justin Cooper

Justin Cooper: Became the 121st athlete to score a Premier Class podium with a runner-up finish in the finale. Cooper now has 1 podium, 2 top-5’s, and 19 top-10’s in his first 21 450SX Class starts. He finished 6th in the final points standings, giving Star Yamaha 3 riders in the top-6 (2nd – Cooper Webb; 4th – Eli Tomac).

Cooper Webb

Cooper Webb (3rd) fell just shy of his third 450SX Class title, settling for his 63rd 450SX Class podium. He is now tied with Ryan Villopoto for 11th on the all-time 450SX Class podiums list.
Jason Anderson (4th) tied Davi Millsaps for 13th on the all-time 450SX Class starts list with 151.
Justin Barcia (5th) earned his 74th top-5 (15th all-time) and 125th top-10 (11th all-time) in his 165th Premier Class start (ties Heath Voss for 11th).
Malcolm Stewart (6th) earned his best finish of the season and made SMX start 200 en-route to his 113th career top-10 finish.

450 Class: Fox Raceway at Pala Facts

HISTORY LESSON:
Pro Motocross’ first journey to Pala was September 11, 2010, for the season finale. Suzuki’s exceptional rookie Ryan Dungey swept both motos to capture his 10th overall win. Dungey had already clinched the title 2 rounds early at Southwick. Fox Raceway returned as the finale in 2011 with the title on the line between Dungey and Ryan Villopoto, with the latter holding a 14-point lead in the standings. Dungey won the overall on his Suzuki with a 2-1 outing, but Villopoto’s 1-3 effort was enough to fend off the challenge and capture his first 450 Class crown.
RETURN TO FOX RACEWAY:
After 2011, Pro Motocross did not return to Fox Raceway until Round 2 of the 2019 season, when Eli Tomac went 1-1 for his first of 6 overall wins that summer on the way to a third straight 450 Class title. The next year, in 2020, Chase Sexton captured his first-ever Pro Motocross victory in the 450 Class at the season finale in Pala. It has served as the Southern California home of Pro Motocross the past 6 seasons.

DOUBLING UP:
Fox Raceway is one of just 3 venues to host multiple rounds in a single season and was the first to do so in non-consecutive races. It hosted the season opener and penultimate rounds of the 2021 season. Then, in 2022, Fox Raceway was the site of both the opener and finale, the only time that has occurred in Pro MX history. The track returned to hosting a single round last season. The 2024 event will be the 10th National at Fox Raceway and the third straight season it has opened the season.
CHAMPIONSHIP AND OPENER %:
Five overall winners in the 450 Class at Fox Raceway have also won the championship during its 7 seasons on the schedule (71%). In Pro Motocross history, the 450 Class winner at the season opener has won the title in just over half of the 450 Class seasons (27 out of 52). In the old 500cc division, the opening-round winner earned the title in 13 of 22 seasons (59%). When adding in 250 Class stats, the all-time percentage for championships won after an opening round victory is 63 out of 124 (51%).

250 Storylines: Round 17 Salt Lake City Recap

RJ Hampshire

RJ Hampshire: Wrapped up his first 250SX Class Championship with a runner-up ride in the finale. In the title clincher, he tied Kelly Smith for 15th in all-time 250SX Class starts, Austin Forkner for 15th in 250SX Class podiums, and Shane McElrath for 5th in all-time 250SX Class top-5’s. He is the second athlete to win a 250SX Class title for Husqvarna (Zach Osborne 2017-2018) and first to win the West Region title. Hampshire became the 100th different SMX Champion.

Tom Vialle

Tom Vialle: Eighth-place finish to clinch the East Region Championship. He is the fourth athlete to win a 250SX Class title for KTM (Jason Anderson, Marvin Musquin, & Ken Roczen). He joins an elite list of Frenchman with 250SX Class titles: Dylan Ferrandis, Musquin, Mickael Pichon, Christophe Pourcel, and Stephane Roncada. Vialle’s 18th in the East Region opener stands as the third-worst finish for a 250SX Class title run. Keith Turpin (20th in 1986) and Ben Townley (22nd in 2007) are the only athletes with worse starts.

Haiden Deegan

Haiden Deegan: Scored his third 250SX Class victory and sixth AMA victory with an impressive East/West Shootout triumph. Deegan holds 8 podiums in 19 career 250SX starts to compliment his 3 wins. He has been on the podium in 17 of his first 33 SMX starts and is runner-up in the East Region for the second consecutive season.

Jordon Smith

Jordon Smith: His 24th career podium moved him into a tie for 3rd on the all-time 250SX Class podiums list with Martin Davalos and Roncada. He is 2 behind McElrath for 2nd all-time and 6 behind Nathan Ramsey for the record. He earned his 40th top-5 along the way, good for 3rd on the all-time list. His 50th career 250SX Class top-10 finish slotted him into a tie with Jeremy Martin, Greg Schnell, & McElrath for 10th all-time.

250 Class: Fox Raceway at Pala Facts

HISTORY LESSON:
Like the 450 Class, Pro Motocross’ first 250 Class visit to Pala was September 11, 2010, for the season finale. Kawasaki’s Dean Wilson swept both motos for the second overall win of his rookie season. In the title fight, Christophe Pourcel had a 7-point lead over Trey Canard going into final motos. Pourcel crashed out of Moto 1 and did not start Moto 2, which handed the championship to Canard, who went 4-3 for 3rd overall. Wilson also swept the 2011 finale at Fox Raceway on a Kawasaki after having already clinched the title a week prior at Steel City.
RETURN TO FOX RACEWAY:
Pro Motocross returned to Fox Raceway in 2019 for Round 2, which saw Adam Cianciarulo (Kawasaki) grab his second of 6 overall victories on the way to his first 250 Class title. He was the last rider not named Lawrence to win at Pala.

MATCHING THE GOAT:
After 17 SMX starts, Jett Lawrence captured his first victory on U.S. soil at Fox Raceway in the 2020 season finale. This started a string of 5 straight wins at the venue, including a sweep of both Pala rounds in 2021 & 2022. He won 7 of 10 motos in his 5 Fox Raceway starts in the 250 Class. Ricky Carmichael is the only other rider in the history of Pro Motocross, in any class, to win 5 or more overalls in a row at a single venue. Carmichael won 8 in-a-row at Budds Creek, Spring Creek, & Southwick; 7 in-a-row at RedBud; 6 in-a-row at High Point; & 5 in-a-row at Steel City (all in the 450 Class). Lawrence is the only rider to win 5 in-a-row at a single venue in the 250 Class. Last season, Lawrence went 1-1 in the 450 Class at Pala for his 6th straight win to remain unbeaten at the SoCal track.
CHAMPIONSHIP AND OPENER %:
The winner of the 250 Class overall at Fox Raceway has also won the 250 Class championship each season except 2010 and 2020. In Pro Motocross history, the winner of the 250 Class opener has gone on to win the title in 23 of 50 seasons (46%), including each of the past 5 years.