Justin Brayton has a career breakthrough and wins Daytona Monster Energy Supercross

Veteran rider Justin Brayton had a career breakthrough Saturday night on one of motorsports’ biggest stages, winning the DAYTONA Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship at Daytona International Speedway for his first victory in Supercross competition.

Brayton, a 33-year-old privateer entrant from Mint Hill, North Carolina, rode a Honda CRF 450 to the upset victory in the 450SX main event. He held off two-time defending Daytona champion Eli Tomac (Kawasaki) of Cortez, Colorado by 4.450 seconds. Tomac dramatically charged back to a runner-up finish after a first-lap accident sent him tumbling – and also sent him to the rear of the field. Cooper Webb of Newport, North Carolina, finished third on a Yamaha.

“I usually struggle so bad at Daytona, like, I come to get a top 10 but today I just felt great,” Brayton said. “I cannot believe it. I’m a Supercross winner. I’m in the record books, at freaking Daytona. Are you kidding me?”

Tomac was attempting to become the fourth rider to win the DAYTONA Monster Energy Supercross three consecutive times.

“I never gave up,” Tomac said. “I did what I could but Justin was riding great, so congrats to him. When you’re that far back all you can do is charge forward. And I was just like ‘let’s get to this podium.'”

The two 450SX heats, which each advanced nine riders to the main event, were won by Brayton and Christian Craig of Orange, California. Tyler Bowers (Kawasaki) of Elsinore, California took the Last Chance Qualifier, which filled out the main event field by advancing four riders.

Jordon Smith of Belmont, North Carolina, won the 250SX main aboard a KTM, edging 2016 Daytona 250SX champion Jeremy Martin (Honda CRF) of Millville, Minnesota at the finish by 0.979 seconds. Earlier, Smith won one of two 250SX heats while Zach Osborne (Husqvarna) of Arlington, Virginia – the fourth-place finisher in the main event – took the other heat. The 250SX Last Chance Qualifier went to Richard Jackson (KTM) of Holdenville, Oklahoma.

“It was a crazy race to win at Daytona – there’s no better place to win,” Smith said. “I got to do a burnout by the checkered flag and that’s just amazing to be able to check that off my list.”