Monster Energy’s Christian Craig & Seth Hammaker go 1st-2nd in 250 class at Angels Stadium Monster Energy SX opener

450 class sees a wild ride put in by Monster Energy-backed Chase Sexton, who survives two crashes to place 5th… Monster’s Eli Tomac’s right behind in 6th

CORONA, CA – January 11, 2022 – (Motor Sports NewsWire) – Racing in front of a packed house at Anaheim’s (Calif.) Angels Stadium, the opening round of 17 Monster Energy AMA Supercross events saw two Monster Energy-backed athletes – Christian Craig (Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha) and Seth Hammaker (Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki) – blaze to 250cc class 1st and 2nd place finishes, respectively, giving the California-based energy drink the top spot on the podium at it first of three hometown series races in Anaheim this season.

And in a wild 450cc class race, Monster Energy-backed Chase Sexton (Honda) put up the contest’s fastest lap time – only to hit the ground twice in his effort to catch teammate Ken Roczen. Sexton would miraculously rebound, charging back through the pack on both occasions to make the top five (5th) in the first race of his sophomore season on the 450s. Monster Energy also received a solid effort (6th) from former class champion Eli Tomac (Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha) in his first race away from the Kawasaki brand on the Yamaha YZ450F.

250 Qualifiers

Seth Hammaker action

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Seth Hammaker

Opening with Craig and the 250 class, the Floridian transplant from California put up the fastest qualifying time (57.48 seconds) and led his heat race #2 early before the race was red-flagged due to a crash. Craig blasted out of the gate on the restart in 2nd, then pinned race leader Hunter Lawrence (Honda) on the short berm leading into the whoops – with Lawrence hitting the dirt. Craig cruised to victory to make the main, with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Jo Shimoda transferring in 2nd place in the heat. Also getting through to the main from the second 250 heat was Nate Thrasher (Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha) with a solid 5th place qualifier.

Rewinding back to the early laps of the opening 250 class qualifier, defending 250 East class champion Colt Nichols (Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha) suffered a gnarly get off in the whoops and was unable to complete the race. Nichols, whose injury was severe enough that he couldn’t answer the bell for the Last Chance Qualifier, will be looked at by his physician this week – with a report forthcoming from his team. Hammaker would qualify out of the No. 2 spot in heat one.

In the LCQ Monster Energy-backed Kaeden Amerine (Team Tedder/Monster Energy/Lucas Oil/KTM Racing) would have an excellent run, placing on the podium in 2nd to transfer to the 250 main.

250 Main

Christian Craig action

Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Christian Craig

The 250 main would get off to a sketchy start for two of the Monster Energy-backed racers as a slight touch of the starting gate – before it dropped – by Craig triggered Shimoda and Thrasher into barges (ramming the gate before it dropped). Both Shimoda and Thrasher would come out of the start in the very back of the pack. Hammaker (2nd) and Craig (3rd) would fare much better as they set out to track down race leader Vince Friese (Honda).

By lap four Craig would get by Friese, though not without a struggle as he nearly went down in the rhythm section, clipping a Tuff Block foam lane barrier and drawing a “Nice save” from Peacock TV announcer and former multi-time Monster Energy AMA Supercross champion Ricky Carmichael. Hammaker would get by Friese on the following lap, and survived a wild ride through the checkers over Lawrence. “Yeah, man, that was a wild race,” said Hammaker from the podium. “Craziest I’ve ever been in.”

For his effort Craig, who’s been coming to the supercross races at Anaheim since he was three years old – as the son of former SX great Mike Craig – the win was special. “This is a bucket list (win) for me,” said Craig, who ran uncontested from lap five through the checkers. “Once I got up front I just clicked off laps and kept the pace up. Definitely pumped to win here at Anaheim.”

Shimoda would put on a great run through the field of top 250 West class racers, coming from dead last all the way up to 7th. Thrasher would also overcome the tough start, finishing just outside the top ten in 12th. And rounding out the Monster Energy athletes in the Anaheim 250 main was Amerine, who placed 20th.

450 Qualifiers

Chase Sexton

Monster Energy’s Chase Sexton

In the premier 450 class’ opening heat race Monster Energy’s Sexton got a good start and tracked down – and passed – race leader Shane McElrath (KTM) on lap four. Sexton would hold onto the lead, starting the season off on a high note by winning the opening 450 heat race ahead of Tomac (3rd) and defending class champion Cooper Webb (KTM) in 5th. “Can’t start the season any better than winning the first heat race,” said Sexton from the podium.

In the second 450 heat race Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s duo of Adam Cianciarulo and Jason Anderson, along with Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Dylan Ferrandis would all transfer to the main – although not without incident between Anderson and Malcolm Stewart (Husqvarna), who legally (albeit a bit aggressively) parked Anderson in a corner early on in the contest. Anderson, a former 450 champion and racing for the first time on the Kawasaki KX450F, would rebound and grab the last transfer spot (8th) to the main. Ferrandis would put in a solid heat ride for 5th, while Cianciarulo, who was in podium position for five of the eight-lap heat, settled in and protected his ailing shoulder to place 7th.

In the LCQ Josh Hill (Team Tedder/Monster Energy/Lucas Oil/KTM Racing), who took the ride on short notice in filling in for a recently injured Benny Bloss, was unable to transfer to the main. A multi-time X Games dirt bike event medalist and 2018 AMA National Snow Bike Champion, last raced supercross in 2021 at Atlanta, Hill was a big hit with fans in the pro pits.

450 Main

Eli Tomac action

 Monster Energy/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Eli Tomac

The 450 main event’s start was highlighted by rocket ship starts from both Sexton and Cianciarulo, who blasted up front in 2nd and 3rd, respectively, behind holeshot winner Ken Roczen (Honda). Anderson would get a decent start (7th), and would quickly move up to 6th place with a pass on Webb on lap two.

Sexton and Cianciarulo would run strong through the first ten lap of the 22-lap main, both in podium position (2nd and 3rd, respectively). Anderson would also impress as he and multi-time Anaheim 1 450 main winner Justin Barcia (Gas Gas) would battle through much of the contest.

A bowl corner miscue by Sexton on lap nine would all Cianciarulo to take over 2nd place, only to be followed up by Sexton’s second miscue – a more drastic get off in the whoop section that sent him all the way back to 10th place. “I kind of feel like an idiot making those two mistakes,” said Sexton after the race. “But I didn’t give up. Not the first time I’ve been the fastest and didn’t win the race.” Note: Sexton clocked a race-best 57.84-second lap on lap seven of the main.

As Sexton mounted his charge back towards the front, Cianciarulo would drop back a bit from the race leaders beginning on lap 11. Carmichael would note that had it not been for his great start, Cianciarulo would have been further back (due to his shoulder issue). Just beyond the race’s halfway mark Sexton would get past Ferrandis in the whoop section and into 6th place. Tomac would look very consistent and strong, smartly working his way up into the field’s top ten.

On lap 16 Anderson would finally get past Barcia, only to have Barcia take the former champion out with an aggressive block pass on the ensuing turn. Anderson’s overall effort, though, won the praises of Carmichael, who said “I’m really impressed with how he (Anderson) rode. I think we’re going to see a lot more of him (up with the leaders).”

With two laps to go in the 450 main Sexton had charged all the way back to 4th place, past KTM’s Marvin Musquin. But it’d be Musquin at the finish – just a click ahead of Sexton (5th).

Added Carmichael on Sexton: “That’s an impressive comeback. Hard to do in the 450 class.”

When the checkers flew, igniting the flames on the massive Monster Energy AMA Supercross finish line structure, it was Roczen with the win. Sexton would lead the Monster Energy athletes in 5th, followed by a solid performance from Tomac in 6th. Anderson would manage a top ten finish (10th) and Cianciarulo was right behind him in 11th, with Ferrandis in 16th.

Up Next

The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series remains on the West Coast with a stop at Oakland’s (Calif.) RingCentral Coliseum on Saturday, Jan. 15th. Gates open at RingCentral Coliseum at noon (FanFest) with qualifying rounds beginning shortly thereafter. Opening Ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. with the gate dropping on the first moto at 7 p.m. Tickets are available online at

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