April 24th, 2023.

Report: Suzuki Motor USA. Photos by BrownDogWilson Photography.

An unprecedented weather delay at round 14 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross season brought heavy rains that saturated the track before the main event. After retreating to cover for 1.5 hours, fans and racers returned to MetLife Stadium for an instant-classic supercross mud race.

Progressive Insurance ECSTAR Suzuki's Ken Roczen started the day posting the fastest lap time in the first qualifying session. Roczen carried that speed into the night show to win his heat race and earn the first gate pick for the main. After thunderstorms delayed and saturated the track, Roczen jumped into the lead and pulled a three-second gap over the field. Just before the race's midpoint he relinquished the top spot and held on for a strong podium finish, his fourth of the season so far.

"We had a lot of fun and were going really well all day on a super tough track. It was extremely rutted, notchy, and tight," said Roczen. "The main was delayed big time and we ended up racing a bit later with a track completely underwater. We got the bike prepped as well as we could, and it held absolutely solid. I never had to adjust the clutch or anything like that. I've been really happy with some of the changes we've made to how the bike felt today. We ended up on the podium in third place after a couple of mistakes and little mishaps. Overall, it was a super solid night because it could also have ended up a lot different."

Shane McElrath had the best race of his 450 career and finished just one spot away from a top-five result. McElrath earned enough points to move his Twisted Tea Suzuki RM-Z450 up one position in the championship standings.

"I had a really good start but just couldn't get stopped or turned in the first corner. I got blasted with some mud and couldn't see, so really felt like I went backward over the first couple of jumps," reported McElrath. "I tried to regroup and get around the track efficiently and cleanly. The mud was really heavy, and honestly, I just stayed in first gear the whole way around the track and was able to double my way through the whole track. I made some really good passes, and some other riders went down and gave up some spots. I ended up sixth, which is a career-best. That's a good way to end the night after really not knowing if we were going to be able to race."

Twisted Tea Suzuki's Kyle Chisholm put in another strong ride in both the dry heat race action and into the deep mud ruts of the storm-shortened 17-minute plus one lap main.

"I had a really strong start, got myself in a good spot, then made a few little mistakes," said Chisholm. "I went off the track, had a little tip over, and just shuffled back. I'm disappointed I wasn't able to capitalize and get a better finish, but we'll try again next week."

A heat race mistake put Dilan Schwartz and his Twisted Tea Suzuki RM-Z250 into the LCQ with a late gate pick. The young racer charged forward and used a big move in the final corner to improve two positions and earn an entry into the main.

"I qualified pretty well, P9, which is my best this season," Schwartz said. "I had a little crash in the heat race and had to go to the LCQ. I made it stick in the last turn and got into the main. It was pretty muddy out there during the main, we just tried to make it through it and get it to the finish line, and that's what we did. I'm looking forward to Denver in a couple of weeks."

BarX Suzuki's Robbie Wageman transferred directly from the first heat race, composed entirely of west coast racers. He earned enough points in the East/West Showdown to advance one spot in the West Coast championship standings.

"The day started impressively. The track was great and had some good rhythms with different options," Wageman said of the early conditions. "I was super happy with getting into the East-West Showdown straight out of our heat race with an eighth. I was looking forward to the main event. Unfortunately, the weather turned the main into a mud race. Overall, it was super fun and an awesome experience with a lot of positives from the weekend!"

Derek Drake wasn't able to bring home points in East Rutherford even though he demonstrated solid speed in qualifying.

"I felt off all day," said Drake. "I wasn't gelling at all and didn't have the speed. But I’m healthy and ready to go for the next round."

Marshal Weltin was fast in the dry but unfortunately didn't get the chance to put his mud-riding skills to the test in MetLife Stadium.

"I had a good qualifying overall on the day, I was happy with how I was riding," reported Weltin. "I just couldn't quite execute in the heat races and in the LCQ; I rode tight, and I couldn't seem to let go, roll my turns, and ride like me. But I'm ready to fight next weekend."

Brandon Scharer showed strong improvements with a near top-ten finish in the west coast heat race.

"It was a good building weekend for me," said Scharer. "Overall I am happy with my riding and improvements with the bike. Qualifying went well. I ended up 11th in the heat; it wasn't the result I wanted, but on the other hand, I was happy with it considering it was like a west coast main event. In the LCQ I just got a poor start and got stuck in the pace of those around me. As always, I take the good and the bad, learn from them, and then focus on the next round. I'm looking forward to Denver!"

"Tonight was awesome!" exclaimed Twisted Tea/H.E.P. Motorsports/Suzuki presented by Progressive Insurance Team Manager Larry Brooks. "Roczen's bike was working really well. In the heat race, he was amazing. He hole-shotted, another rider who passed him, Roczen passed him back and then just ran away from him; Roczen won the heat race, and it established a strong start to the night. In the main it started pouring rain; it was the craziest, wettest race I've seen in a long time. For me, it was fun, but I was watching. Roczen finished third. McElrath got his best finish in the 450 class with a sixth. Chisholm got thirteenth. Schwartz in the 250 class - his transfer to the main through the last chance qualifier was crazy. He qualified on the very last corner, slammed two riders, and qualified. It was amazing. It was a really good night for our team and one of the more fun nights that I've had."

The supercross series travels next to Nashville, Tennessee where the 450 class racers will compete in round 15 and the 250 east riders will get back to a regular-structure race day for round nine of their division.

The Suzuki riders and teams are eager to continue their consistently impressive improvements this season. Another Roczen podium and a career-best finish from McElrath bode well for the racers in Nissan Stadium in Nashville on April 29th.

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Photos by BrownDogWilson Photography

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