No expectations for Haiden Deegan, just pure joy from his family on first podium

Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

When Haiden Deegan, 17, made his Monster Energy 250 East Supercross debut at Houston, he was not burdened by expectations from the team, his family or himself. At the start of the season, he was prepared to spend another year in the Supercross Futures class, but after finishing fifth in the season-opener at Anaheim 1, everyone saw all they needed to see.

Haiden Deegan expectations
Haiden Deegan wasn’t certain he would race 250s in 2023. Now he has three top-fives in four races. – Feld Motor Sports

“After futures, I wasn’t even sure if I was going race, so we pulled it and we’re like, yeah, we might as well go race, get the experience and so far it’s going great,” Deegan said in the post-race news conference for the Daytona Supercross race after earning his first podium in just his fourth 250 start.

It was a decision made not only by the Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing team and Haiden, but also by his parents Brian and Marissa.

Even without expectations, success came immediately for Deegan.

He finished fourth in his debut after riding at the front of the pack in the early laps of the Houston Main. Minor mistakes in both that race and the following week in Tampa denied him a podium. In his third round at Arlington, he had his first taste of disappointment. The Texas dirt was tricky and glassed over severely, as if often will in dirt sprint car races, making for slick conditions.

Deegan finished 15th in the first Main of the Triple Crown format before rebounding to fourth and fifth in the next two races. He was eighth overall.

“My mom didn’t want me to race dirt bikes after all my dad went through,” Haiden said. “We started and my dad got me on a dirt bike and it was going to happen eventually. And from there I just fell in love with it. … So, I fell in love with dirt bikes and from there, just been getting up to this spot pretty much and race supercross.

“I’ve been wanting it for, I can’t say whole life because I’m only 17, but in that little span, so now we’re here and we’re just going to keep getting better.”

After a disappointing career in Supercross that produced only two podium finishes, Brian Deegan was uncertain about what he wanted for Haiden.

Haiden Deegan expectations
The Daytona Supercross race kicks off Bike Week and draws one of the biggest crowds of the season. the cheers for Haiden Deegan were hard to miss. – Feld Motor Sports

“As a parent, it’s hard to explain the emotions,” Brian told NBC Sports, still buzzing with adrenalin. “All the years, all the work, all the effort, all the highs, the lows, the broken bones, the surgeries, the doctor visits, the money spent, huh, the money lost.

“It’s just everything gets boiled into moments like these and that’s why they’re just so exciting. You have to, I have to, enjoy them. And I make sure we enjoy them because we’ve invested so much in it as far as time and energy when we could be doing a lot of other things. But this is what we choose.”

“That moment happened. It’s the first podium. That moment is here. Now the next would be searching for a win, right? That’s going to be hard. I can’t contain myself on that. I lost my voice tonight on just the third place.”

A Racing Family

But racing is in the family’s blood, and it was inevitable that Brian’s children would catch the bug. Haiden’s sister Hailie Deegan is showing promise in NASCAR’s top support series and is widely considered to be the next female racer to climb through the ranks.

“We’ve been a racing family for so long and we’ve put all this work in to have these moments,” Brian said. “Hadien’s the one doing the work; he’s got to twist the throttle. He’s the one who’s got to take the risks, to ride at that pace three or four days a week. It’s gnarly. Damn, the risk they take is just so gnarly. Back in the day we rode 125s. We just didn’t go as fast. Now they’re going really fast.”

Brian admits to not having the career he thought he should. At the time, he was a little bitter that Supercross did not provide the results he expected or thought he deserved.

But life experience goes into making a man and a parent.

“To be honest, I raced dirt bikes back in the day and I had a bad taste in my mouth from it,” Brian said. “Because I just didn’t feel like I got what I wanted or deserved at the time. But I learned it was just a bad attitude back in the day. I learned from it and raised my kids differently because of that. It’d be nice to have a roll cage [like Hailie] for the kids, but that’s not the sport. That’s why there’s so many fans: because it’s dangerous.

“As a parent it’s definitely nerve-wracking.”

Haiden Deegan expectations
Due to its length and technical challenges, the Daytona Supercross track is among the most difficult on the schedule. ‘You’ve got to be a man to ride this track.” – Feld Motor Sports

The feelings are the same for Haiden’s mother, Marissa Deegan.

A mixture of excitement for the racing action and pride for her son’s accomplishments are tempered by anxiety as she watches him race. Being in the sport for decades and watching both Haiden and Brian sustain injuries have given her a high level of awareness.

“He’s put in so much hard work,” Marissa told NBC Sports. “He’s positioned up there and he’s good. … I have excited butterflies, nervous butterflies, for all my kids. But Brian put me through the test earlier and I’m used to it.”

Strong emotions and volatile anxiety, and maybe a little expectations, would have been in place no matter which venue hosted Deegan’s first podium, but this came in what many consider to be the marquee event in Supercross. With more than 50 years of history and as the kickoff to the famed Daytona Bike Week, this race is like NASCAR’s Daytona 500, which was run on this same ground three weeks ago.

The challenge of the track, the cheers when he was introduced to the crowd and the challenges of this Ricky Carmichael designed track added to the sense of accomplishment.

“This track is not an easy one,” Haiden said. “You’ve got to be man to ride this track. I didn’t get the greatest start, but I was able to make my way up to third. And it’s a tough track.

“I was riding with good intensity. I felt great and I was able to push through. At the end, the crowd’s amazing. It’s crazy. The crowd’s going wild the whole time. When I finished that race adrenaline was going, I was super happy.”

Eli Tomac wins Seattle Supercross, ties Cooper Webb in championship points


In the past two weeks, Eli Tomac lost his momentum and with it the Monster Energy Supercross red plate to Cooper Webb, but a gutsy performance in Seattle gave him a sixth win of the season as he and the series heads into an off week tied. Tomac is currently tied in the points with Webb.

With this win, Tomac also ties James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list at 50 with six rounds remaining in 2023.

“I needed that bounce back,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was almost like I was in a little bit of a slump in the past couple of weeks; just a little bit off. I’m feeling much better now. That track raced really cool. There were a lot of different lines out there.

“It was obviously very dicey early on. I got passed and then had to make those passes back.”

Tomac suffered with a stiff neck in Indianapolis two weeks ago when he lost the red plate to Webb for the first time in 2023. In that race, he scored his worst finish of the season in eighth. He lost more points in Detroit after finishing a distant third behind Chase Sexton and Webb. This is the fifth time this season that Tomac and Webb finished 1-2 in a race. Tomac has won them all, but Webb has been more consistent.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Seattle

Webb was disappointed to lose the ground to Tomac, but he will enter the Glendale, Arizona race with a red plate and a share of the points’ lead.

“It was overall a great night to get up front and get a second was great,” Webb said after the race. “Those few spots where I would get close to Eli and then make a mistake.

“The track was gnarly. It was no joke. It was cat and mouse as to who could ride the cleanest race and pick the line. I got off to a decent start, but Chase and Eli were ahead of me and I had some catchup to play and got into a good position.”

Early in the race, Sexton was indeed ahead of Webb and the remainder of the field. Another costly mistake sent Sexton to the ground. He battled back to finish fifth but is now 22 points out of the lead and in jeopardy of dropping out of championship contention unless Tomac and Webb have problems.

Rounding out the podium was Justin Barcia, who scored the third-place finish on his birthday

“Awesome ride,” Barcia said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sure we kept the fans on their feet tonight. The track was gnarly. […] We’re searching; we’re so close to having that speed. We want it so badly. We’ll keep pushing hard and going for that win.”

Sexton’s mistake kept the three top points’ earners of 2023 from sharing the podium for the sixth time in 11 rounds, but the trio finished 1-2-3 in Heat 2 with Webb first, Sexton second and Tomac third.

The 250 West contenders were back in action after giving the last four rounds over to the East riders and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off in Oakland: In Victory Lane. Lawrence scored his fourth win in five 250 West rounds. Last week his brother Hunter Lawrence tied Jett with 10 wins, but everyone knew it would not take long for Jett to regain the advantage.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but one race each in their respective divisions.

Lawrence rode a patient race in the Main. He settled in behind Stylez Robertson and concentrated on navigating the ruts mistake-free. He could not afford to be patient any longer when Cameron McAdoo caught up to the leaders. Lawrence found a second gear and gapped the battle for second.

An incident in their main made the battle between Lawrence and McAdoo more dramatic. While racing for second, the pair of riders ran out of room in the rhythm section. Both crashed but had a large enough lead over fourth to maintain their positions.

“It was a very eventful day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’s Daniel Blair, answering a question about the earlier contact. “[…] It’s good to be back racing. It’s been a while. I feel like I’ve had another offseason. Glad to get out in one piece tonight.”

Lawrence now has a 23-point advantage over the field with four rounds remaining.

Click here for full 250 Main Results

RJ Hampshire finished second in his race and is second in the points after a seesaw affair that produced the final pass for position just before the white flag was displayed.

“I felt like I had a pretty good pace going for a little bit,” Hampshire said. “I closed the gap and then had a couple of big mistakes that almost put me on my head. I backed it off a little bit.

“Cam actually gapped me a little more than I would have wanted. I knew I could get a push there at the end. I thought that was the last lap, which is why my pass was a little more aggressive than it should have been, but I’m stoked to be able to close the gap a little bit.”

McAdoo took the final spot on the podium. This is the fourth time in 2023 these three riders have shared the box and if not for a sixth-place finish in Anaheim 2, he would be mounting a much more formidable challenge for the points’ lead.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” McAdoo said. “It did change a lot and the key thing was to get off the rhythms every time. We were swapping back and forth.”

Enzo Lopes in fourth and Max Vohland rounded out the top five.

Robertson had the early lead but when he lost the top spot to Jett he cross rutted on the next lap, crashed hard and failed to finish.

2023 Race Recaps

Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

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Power Rankings after Detroit
Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan
Results and points after Detroit
Chase Sexton wins in Detroit, penalized seven points