MXA INTERVIEW | CHASE SEXTON IS READY TO BATTLE AT THE EAST RUTHERFORD SUPERCROSS
In spite of Geico Honda rider Chase Sexton having a standout 2019 supercross season, the true star of the show has been Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner who has won every East race until Nashville. Forkner had a very untimely practice crash there that took him out of the event. This allowed the points battle to tighten up significantly. When the results were tallied Austin Forkner had 151, Chase Sexton 148, and Justin Cooper 144. While we have all seen the press release about Forkner’s ACL injury, no one really knows the seriousness of it – yet the 20-year-old plans on racing in New Jersey this weekend. Most eyes will be on Austin Forkner, Chase Sexton, and Justin Cooper as they each search for their first Supercross Championship. Although he has an aggressive training schedule, we were able to talk to Chase Sexton about his strategy going into the final two rounds.
BY JIM KIMBALL
CHASE, LET’S BEGIN WITH AUSTIN FORKNER’S PRACTICE CRASH AND HOW HE MISSED THE RACE IN NASHVILLE. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND? I did not really pay attention. I knew he crashed, and we went out for the third practice, although he rode, I guess he hurt himself even more. I did not know about that until later, so I figured he was going to race. He laid down a decent time, and I felt he was able to race, but I did not realize that he hurt himself again. It was a bummer for sure that he could not race. Obviously, I did not even know until the heat race when he was not there that he was not racing. Honestly, I was just focused on myself, trying to ride my own race, and like I said at the Post Race Press Conference, I was just worried about winning; not about who was there or not there.
YOU WERE THE FAVORITE TO WIN THAT RACE, BEFORE JUSTIN COOPER TOOK YOU BOTH OUT. LETS TALK ON THAT INCIDENT, WAS THAT A DESPERATE MOVE ON HIS PART? Yes, I think so. I have been racing Justin for pretty much my whole amateur career, or at least the end of it, and then obviously during my pro career. We have always raced each other clean, and I was not really expecting him to run it in there. Especially, when I feel like I passed him clean in the second corner. But it is all good; it is racing. I feel like I would have won that race, and I was pretty upset after, but he came over and apologized. After I got up, I was just focused on making as many passes as I possibly could. I was trying to see how far Martin (Davalos) was ahead because I felt like I was riding a good pace, but I did not have enough time to catch him. Obviously though, he was riding good all night. I can’t take anything away from him, but no, it was a bummer for sure that it went down like that, especially for both of us to go down. But I came back and got second, so only 3 points out of first now. I wish I was 0 points down, and gone ahead and won that race, but it is all good. I am just focused on myself for the last two rounds, and not trying to worry about it all.
After taking himself and Chase Sexton out in Nashville, Justin Cooper admitted that he made a mistake, but he wasn’t apologizing for his aggressive racing. Justin made a point to let everyone know that he wants to win a race and the championship.
JUSTIN COOPER IS A GREAT RIDER, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE YOU HAVE HAD HIM BEAT SO FAR THIS SUPERCROSS SEASON. Yes, I felt like I have been riding pretty good. He is an awesome rider; he rides the bike very well. I feel like he has always been right behind me, finishing wise. If I get 2nd, he gets 3rd, If I get 3rdhe gets 4th. It has been like we have been right in front of, and right behind each other. My whole focus, the whole year has just been to win. Austin has been riding really well, but I really feel like Nashville was my race. Even, had Austin been racing, I felt good all day. I qualified 1stin the non-timed practice, 3rdin the first qualifying,1stin the second qualifying, and I won my heat race. I felt good all day. Even if Austin was racing, I was not too worried about it. I was just trying to race my race. I just want to win. I am not really worried about anybody around me, I’m just trying to get my first win.
MANY OF US EXPECTED YOU TO GET YOUR FIRST WIN THIS SEASON, EVEN BEFORE AUSTIN INJURED HIS KNEE. Yes, that is my whole goal. I have been working on it and feel like I have been closing a few times. And at the last race, I felt like it was my time no matter if Austin was out there or not. I just felt really good all day. I have been working a lot the last couple of weeks, I’m feeling really good coming up to New Jersey, and I’m looking forward to it.
TALKING ABOUT NEW JERSEY, IT’S GOING TO BE A BIG WEEKEND, ISN’T IT? Yes, definitely. It is going to be a big weekend for all three of us. Obviously with Austin being back racing, and Justin and I, it is going to be a big weekend for sure. Davalos could be a spoiler too. The points are tight, and I am focusing on trying to win a race, like I have been all year. But I am not worried about it, whatever happens, happens. I am focused on myself, and not getting wrapped up in all this points stuff. I am not worried about Austin or Justin. I am just going out there, worrying about riding my best race, getting a good start, and taking a win for everybody. I think it is going to be a good track. It is going to be rutted, I believe, so I am looking forward to it.
LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT AUSTIN. HAVE YOU HEARD ANYTHING OTHER THAN WHAT WERE ALL TOLD FROM THE PRESS RELEASE? No, I have not heard anything different than anybody else. He has something wrong with his ACL, and some other small stuff in his knee, which I know people that have raced with before. Adam (Cianciarulo) raced with it. I had an ACL injury for pretty much a whole year when I was racing. I don’t know how his injury is, it depends how bad it is, if he can deal with the pain or not. Obviously, it looked like it was pretty bad in Nashville. If it was good enough, he would have raced still. I’m sure it is going to be a wait and see. Like I said, I am not really worried about it. I am going to go out there and do the best I can no matter who is racing.
BETWEEN YOU, AUSTIN, AND JUSTIN, YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE WITHOUT HAVING A TEAMMATE OUT THERE; HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THAT? Well, I have Christian Craig who is actually coming back this weekend. He will be back, and obviously, he is a great rider. He is good with running up towards the front, so it is going to be nice having a teammate out there. But as I keep saying, I am just going to go out there, take care of business myself, put myself up front, and ride my own race. I am looking forward to it. It is going to be a fun weekend.
THIS WEEKEND IS GOING TO BE VERY, VERY INTERESTING FOR ALL OF US, I THINK. Yes, it is definitely going to be interesting for sure. The track is going to be rutted and it is going to be technical. I am looking forward to getting out there and just riding my own race. Riding like I had been at Nashville at least, and just put myself in a good position.