After being canceled last year due to COVID-19, the first AMA Supercross 250SX race of 2022 was won by Temecula rider, Christian Craig (28), in front of a sold-out Angel Stadium crowd. Valley News David Canales photo

The first AMA Supercross race of 2022 took place Saturday, January 8, at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, and Temecula riders Christian Craig and Seth Hammaker had the top two 250SX main event finishes.

The 250cc main event was 15 minutes plus one lap. Craig completed 16 laps in 16:08.024 with Hammaker finishing 5.625 seconds after Craig and 0.429 seconds before third-place rider Hunter Lawrence of Florida.

Craig and Hammaker are both Monster Energy riders. Craig is on the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha team and Hammaker is part of the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team.

“That was a great way to start the season. I’m excited for them. I was pleased to see both teams doing good to start the series,” Monster Energy senior vice president of sports marketing Mitch Covington said. “It gives us high hopes for a championship, and hopefully they will take it one race at a time as well and finish like we started the season.”

Defending East Coast Champion, Colt Nichols (45, Murrieta), and this year’s runner up, Seth Hammaker (47), battle it out on the woops at Angel Stadium. Valley News/David Canales photo

The Monster Energy riders also include Murrieta’s Colt Nichols, who is with the Monster Energy/Star Racing Yamaha team, and Menifee’s Jo Shimoda, who rides for the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team. In the first qualifying session January 8 Craig had the fast lap of 57.676 seconds, Hammaker qualified third at 58.407 seconds, Nichols’ fast lap of 59.526 seconds placed fourth, Shimoda qualified ninth with a fast lap of 1:00.113 and Menifee’s Vince Friese had the tenth-place qualifying lap of 1:00.656.

Craig also had the fast-qualifying lap in the second session, taking 57.480 seconds. Hammaker qualified fourth at 58.134 seconds, Shimoda had a fifth-place lap of 58.313 seconds, Nichols was sixth with a lap of 58.477 seconds and a fast lap of 59.201 seconds placed Friese tenth.

Hammaker was in the first heat race. Michael Mosiman, who now lives in Florida, won that eight-lap race in 7:50.724. Hammaker was second and finished 6.134 seconds after Mosiman. Friese took third place and was 8.425 seconds behind Hammaker. Nichols had led the race but crashed in the fifth lap, and he was also unable to start in the last chance qualifier.

Craig won the second heat race in 7:50.019. Shimoda finished 8.412 seconds later for second place.

Menifee’s Jo Shimoda (30) takes seventh place at the first AMA Supercross 250SX race of 2022 at Angel Stadium. Valley News/David Canales photo

The main event began with 22 riders. Craig started first, Shimoda began in the third position, Hammaker lined up fourth, and Friese was sixth prior to the original green flag.

Friese led for the first three laps before Craig took over the lead that he never relinquished in the fourth lap. Friese eventually finished fifth, 26.635 seconds behind Craig and 18.475 seconds behind fourth-place Garrett Marchbanks of Utah. Mosiman took sixth place while Shimoda captured seventh by finishing 4.774 seconds after Mosiman and 41.598 seconds after Craig.

Craig also won the 2021 AMA Supercross season opener, which was in Houston. He rides a Yamaha YZ250F, as does Nichols. Hammaker and Shimoda compete on Kawasaki KX250 machines. Friese was on a Honda CRF250R.

“Glad to be back racing, and looking forward to a good season,” Covington said.

Ken Roczen of Florida won the 450SX class. Marvin Musquin, who lives in Corona but trains at the KTM facility in Murrieta, finished fourth. Murrieta riders Malcolm Stewart and Dean Wilson are both part of the Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna Factory Racing team and finished seventh and twelfth, respectively.

Murrieta rider Dean Wilson (15), who races for Rockstar Energy/Husqvarna, finishes twelfth in the first AMA Supercross event of the year. Valley News/David Canales photo

The January 8 races also included the KTM Junior competition. Menifee’s Nixon Meineke led all three laps and won in 4:56.708. Wildomar’s Easton Grant was second and finished 7.416 seconds after Meineke. Winchester’s James Ellis had the fifth-place finish, completing the race 41.223 seconds after Meineke and 20.501 seconds after fourth-place Austin Tilley of Norco.

Joe Naiman can be reached by email at

Joe Naiman