Chase Sexton (MX Sports photo)

Sexton Breaks Through In Hangtown

RANCHO CORDOVA, Calif. —The second round of the Pro Motocross Championship, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, traveled to Northern California, in the shadow of the state capital of Sacramento, for the landmark 55th running of the Michael’s Reno Powersports Hangtown Motocross Classic.

While one major storyline centered around the end of Australian phenom Jett Lawrence’s perfect record in 450 Class competition, it was Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Chase Sexton who left a lasting impression with a captivating victory that resulted in a dramatic shakeup of the early title fight.

In the 250 Class, points leader and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing rider Haiden Deegan overcame misfortune in the second moto to prevail with back-to-back wins to open the season.

The first moto began with the Australian siblings of Jett and Hunter Lawrence leading the field through the first turn side-by-side. Hunter edged out his younger brother for the MotoSport.com Holeshot, but ultimately conceded the lead to Jett. The defending champion and entering points leader looked to sprint away, but a misjudgment on one of the downhills resulted in a hard crash. Jett was slow to get up and was forced to visit the mechanics area to attend to his Honda, which effectively ended his 24-moto winning streak in Pro Motocross. Hunter inherited the lead, followed by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson in second and Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing’s Justin Cooper in third.
Lawrence and Anderson were able to establish themselves at the front of the field while Sexton, who started fifth, made the pass on Cooper to take over third. Sexton then put his head down to close in on the lead duo. As he looked to pressure Anderson for third Sexton had a miscue that caused him to lose ground and from there the KTM rider settled into a slower pace. The gap between each of the top three stabilized until Anderson tipped over with less than 10 minutes to go, which handed second to Sexton while Anderson remounted in third. 
Sexton bided his time and mounted an attack in the closing minutes of the moto, which saw him close onto the rear fender of Lawrence’s Honda. Sexton made a tactful pass for the lead to edge by Lawrence, but the Aussie battled back to keep the fight going for the next half lap. Sexton eventually solidified what would be the winning pass and distanced himself from the field over the final two laps.
Sexton earned his first moto win in 10 races and his first with KTM to maximize the opportunity presented by Jett Lawrence’s misfortune. Hunter Lawrence finished second, 7.9 seconds behind, while Anderson held on to finish a distant third. Cooper followed in fourth, with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger in fifth. After the crash dropped him to the tail end of the field in 40th, Jett Lawrence battled his way up to 24th, but finished three positions shy of the final points-paying position of 21st place.

The final moto kicked off with the Yamaha of Cooper out front for the MotoSport.com Holeshot, followed closely by Plessinger who soon made the move to take the lead while Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha’s Phil Nicoletti moved into third. Behind them, Hunter Lawrence slotted into fourth, Anderson in fifth, and Jett Lawrence in sixth. Sexton, meanwhile, fell and was forced to start his journey from the tail end of the field.
As the jockeying for position continued near the front, Nicoletti crashed out of third, which allowed Hunter Lawrence to move into the top three. His time in podium position was short lived as Jett made the move on his brother. As the top half of the field started to settle in through the opening 10 minutes of the moto, Sexton was on a torrid charge through the field and had climbed his way up into seventh with the majority of the moto still remaining.
As Plessinger strengthened his hold on the top spot, the attention shifted to what turned into a tight battle in the overall classification. Jett Lawrence fought his way up to second, but started to fade in the late stages of the moto, which allowed Cooper to reclaim the position as Hunter Lawrence moved back into third. Sexton remained a man on a mission and kept his forward charge going into the top five, with a two-for-one pass on a slowing Jett Lawrence and Anderson to claw his way into fourth. Sexton’s resurgence wasn’t over yet as he hounded Hunter Lawrence and made an assertive pass for third with four minutes to go. Sexton was more patient as he closed in on Cooper for second, but still was able to make the pass with time for one final push to try and catch his teammate out front.
Sexton got Plessinger within striking distance on the final lap and with three turns to go completed one of the most impressive single motos in the history of American motocross with a 40th to first charge that put the finishing touches on a thrilling 1-1 performance. The margin of victory at the finish was 0.999 between the KTM teammates. Cooper finished in third.

Sexton’s seventh career win was his first since the 2022 season and his maiden KTM triumph outdoors ended a 49-race winless drought for the Austrian brand, who last won at the 2019 Spring Creek National with Cooper Webb.

The last-lap pass on Plessinger altered the final two spots on the podium and moved Hunter Lawrence into second (2-4), while Plessinger settled for third (5-2). A difficult afternoon for Jett Lawrence saw the No. 1 earn a resilient 12th-place finish (24-6).

“That was a year and a half of pent-up frustration,” Sexton said. “I spun off the start [in Moto 2 and went down] and was dead last. I knew it was going to be a long moto. I don’t know what to say. That was the best moto of my life. I’m just happy to get the win and become the new points leader.”