2023 Denver Supercross Recap

The anti-miracle.

Whereas a miracle generally refers to an unexplained, inexplicable reversal of a bad fortune, conversely the anti-miracle refers to the unexplained, inexplicable reversal of good fortune or, more poignantly, destiny.

Not much else explains what happened for Round 16 of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season on Saturday at Mile High Stadium in Denver. Eli Tomac entered the second to last race of the season with an 18 point lead over Chase Sexton needing merely Top 5 finishes to secure back-to-back Championships. Arguably the best racer of the year with seven wins and 11 podiums, Tomac blazed to the lead on the opening lap gliding across the whoops like pavement to get past Shane McElrath and appeared on his way to a checked-out win in front of his home crowd.

About three minutes later he pulled off the track holding his left leg off the pedal. Something happened. He disappeared in the bowels of the stadium to the medical unit. The news: ruptured Achilles. Tomac's quest for a third 450 class Championship ended, his season over and career maybe done considering he was widely expected to retire after the SuperMotocross Championship series this fall. The stunning injury comes on the heels of (no pun intended) Cooper Webb's season ending injury a week earlier in Nashville. Webb and Tomac were pretty much the only two left in the title fight the previous month and up until two weeks ago it was anyone's guess who would emerge victorious. Justin Barcia, who was contending up front in recent weeks also had a season-ending injury at Round 15.

Tomac's injury left many in disbelief and overshadowed the events of the evening which included a clinched title and some pretty solid rides. Sexton went on to win, his fifth checkers of the season and will hoist the 450 class 2023 Supercross Championship trophy since he holds a seven point first-place lead in the standings and needs not to race barring an unexplained, inexplicable reversal of a bad fortune for Tomac.

"A lot of mixed emotions right now. It's definitely not how you want to see someone go out," said Sexton who crashed leads away multiple times this year. "Eli is obviously an awesome competitor. We had a lot of great battles this year and he obviously had a good points lead and I was just trying to do the best I can. It's a bummer to see him go out like that."

Tomac holds a lock on second-place for the season, hardly a consolation for the guy who rode the Red Plate all year with the exception of one round. Behind him though the one feel-good story of the season in Ken Roczen riding a dated Suzuki with a now infamous kickstart. Roczen, with a history of gnarly injuries followed by mid-season energy fades, should move into third for the season being just a point back of the idle Webb. Roczen rode his yellow boat to second in Denver, his fourth straight podium. He started the evening in last after getting caught up in a first turn skirmish then worked his way through the pack getting in to runner-up position 15 minutes after the gatedrop.

Adam Cianciarulo took third for his first podium since Round 3 of the 2021 season. Cianciarulo has battled injuries and the finish, though partly a result of the top riders being out, gives him momentum moving forward. Justin Hill, taking time off from arresting people in southern Oregon, finished fourth, a career best. McElrath took a season best fifth.

2023 450 Class Supercross Season Standings

  1. Chase Sexton (346)
  2. Eli Tomac (339)
  3. Cooper Webb (304)
  4. Ken Roczen (303)
  5. Justin Barcia (267)

250 West Class

As expected, Jett Lawrence wrapped up the 250 West Championship his fourth overall (Supercross and Motocross) 250 title and moves on to the 450 class for the Outdoors. He finished third on the night continuing his year-long podium streak, while RJ Hampshire and Levi Kitchen battled for the lead in pretty spectacular fashion.

Kitchen got around Max Vohland for the lead about two minutes in with Hampshire following into second shortly after then their racing heated up six minutes later. Hampshire briefly got a wheel in front of Kitchen who quickly got back in front and as the two rounded a turn and hit a jump, Kitchen stayed in his line while Hampshire veered left launching awkwardly in the air and landing on the face of the next jump near a tuff block. That gave Kitchen a comfortable five-second cushion but it would evaporate with less than a minute on the clock as Hampshire throttled past Kitchen in the whoops and held on for his first win of the season.

"It's so awesome. Such a big difference from last year. I show up, I enjoy my weekends I love racing my dirt bike right now," Hampshire said. "I felt good all day. Executed that main well. Hit neutral off that double, thought I might have lost it there, started clicking them off right after."

Barring an injury, Hampshire has a lock on second for the season. Kitchen races for third-place on the season next week as he sits two points back of Enzo Lopes.

2023 250 West Class Supercross Season Standings

  1. Jett Lawrence (197) - 2023 250 West Champion
  2. RJ Hampshire (163)
  3. Enzo Lopes (137)
  4. Levi Kitchen (135)
  5. Max Vohland (121)

With all titles claimed, the final round of the 2023 Supercross season on Saturday in Salt Lake City seems inconsequential but bragging rights and final standings hang in the balance.

2023 Denver Supercross