Despite ending the Monster Energy Supercross season with eight podium results and finishing second in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship this summer, Chase Sexton doesn’t feel like he’s “made it” quite yet.
It’s been a fairly short journey for Sexton to rise through the ranks of professional dirt bike racing — beginning with his AMA pro debut in 2017. Since then, he has collected two 250cc class championships in Supercross, made a transition to the 450cc class in 2021 and stacked up six motocross triumphs in the premier class over the past three seasons.
Still, as the 23-year-old sits back to think about his year, he only sees what’s missing.
“I still haven’t achieved the goals I want to, so I guess that’s my driving factor,” Sexton said. “Really just chasing after one thing, and that’s to win a Supercross and motocross championship.”
A number of things have come together for the Honda HRC rider this year, allowing him to come closer to a 450 championship than ever before. His sophomore season of riding in the 450 class commenced with the opening round of Monster Energy Supercross this past January. Sexton’s first class victory came two rounds later in San Diego, Calif., when he bested the formidable Star Racing Yamaha teammates — Eli Tomac and Dylan Ferrandis.
Though it was his only victory of the season, the pieces that Sexton was able to fit together in Supercross eventually led to his immense success in motocross competition. It started with bike suspension and ended with a shift in mentality.
“I think the first thing for me was bike setup. You’re never 100 percent comfortable when racing, but I was probably 85 to 95 percent,” Sexton said. “That led to results and that led to my mentality changing, knowing that I can win races consistently.”
It was evident Sexton was prepared to duel with the veteran 450 riders to take his shot at the title when he arrived at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif., for the Pro Motocross opener. He led Honda HRC to a podium sweep, clinching his third-career victory in the series.
“Motocross was the most consistent I’ve ever been, at least on the podium,” Sexton said. “I feel like I took a lot of what I learned in Supercross and put in into outdoors. But I still have room to grow and room to improve.”
Sexton was locked in a gripping battle with Tomac throughout the motocross season, with the two trading wins and pushing each other until the very end. At Fox Raceway on Sept. 4, Tomac sealed the deal on his fifth Pro Motocross championship while Sexton finished seven points behind.
On the final podium, Tomac commended Sexton, announcing to the California crowd that the Honda HRC rider was “the next 450 guy.”
While it didn’t quite soften the blow of losing the championship, the accolade from Tomac spoke to the respect that developed between the two riders who, essentially, are on opposite ends of their careers.
“I’ve always respected him, but I feel like for me, I had to earn his respect and it was cool for me to finally do that,” Sexton said. “Now, I have to race him in Supercross. I want to beat him, ’cause this will be my last chance at him.”
Though Sexton admits his result from this motocross season will likely always be in the back of his mind, he’s turned the page and is fully focused on 2023.
“I’m getting more established in the sport, but the goal stays the same, and that’s to win,” Sexton said. “I grew a lot this year, it put me in a better spot looking forward. So that’s how I’m looking at it.”
Since the end of the motocross season, the Illinois native has kept busy.
In late September, he raced for Team USA in Motocross of Nations, helping bring the team its first win in 11 years.
The calm of his offseason reached a peak in October when he visited Hawaii with friends, then it was back to work with trainer Peter Park in California for a three-week, off-the-bike fitness regime. Sexton is now in the height of on-the-bike testing and training in Florida.
“I’ve got some base settings out of the way and can just focus on my laps and do my motos,” Sexton said. And mentally, he added, “As far as where I’m at now, I’m just thankful for this summer and looking forward to 2023.”
The Supercross season begins on January 7 in Anaheim, Calif., leaving Sexton a little more than a month to prepare for his next title fight.
“If I can replicate what I did in outdoors — it’s easier said than done — but if I can be consistent like that and put myself on the podium most of the rounds, that’s really the goal,” Sexton said. “That’s when you get in those championship scenarios.”