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Fast Fact: White Line Analysis. Supercross Starts Matter.

By Brett Smith

The best way to win a 450SX main event in 2024 (or even a single Triple Crown gate drop) is to cross that white line in no worse than third place.

Surely, we’ve had a few too many cocktails with Captain Obvious but we’re here to share the data that some people think doesn’t exist.

And don’t me Shirley.

2024 Indianapolis Supercross Start. Photo: Garth Milan.
This Fast Fact is also available as a 5-minute podcast.

2024 Supercross Starts

In the 20 gate drops of 2024 (including all nine individual TC races) the winner has taken the holeshot nine times (45%), was second or better 11 times and at least fourth 19 times (95%)

Podium Finishers Start Position

*a, b, c denotes Triple Crown gate drops. They’re not in perfect round order. We’re in development on tables still.

The single worst white line position for an eventual winner this season was Cooper Webb’s 8th place start in Seattle. And it looked worse than that for him entering the first turn. Webb was solidly mid-pack but stayed tight to the inside and was 7th by the time he exited turn two.

2024 Daytona Supercross Start. Photo: Garth Milan.
2024 Daytona Supercross Start. Photo: Garth Milan.

That 8th place start is the only outside-the-top-four holeshot position for a winner all season, including all nine TC gate drops.

Even the Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, where Webb didn’t win a single Race, his starting positions were 4-2-4.

And looking at starts over the last 3 years…

Starts 2022-2024
  • Winners have improved their average start position by +0.4.
  • 2nd place finishers have also improved their start position by +0.6.
  • The trend breaks a bit for 3rd place finishers, their start position is worse by -1.2. An anomaly due to injuries in 2023 (easier to get better starts) and more starts from outside the top 5 and top 10 this year (deeper field makes it tougher to get good starts).

A Jett Lawrence Holeshot (Usually) = A Win

In the six Supercross races Jett Lawrence has won in 2024, his average position at the white holeshot stripe is 1.76 (this includes the average of three starts from his Indianapolis Triple Crown win where he had starts of 3-1-1)

His average start in the races he didn’t win? Ninth (well, 8.96.)

And Lawrence is probably still trying to erase Arlington from his memory. He was 1.0 at the line and led 23 of 27 laps before landing on a tuff block halfway through the 24th lap.

Throw away the penalty in St. Louis (TC2) and Lawrence has won all but two gate drops where he was 1st or 2nd at the stripe (Arlington and TC3 at A2 are the exceptions)

Eli Tomac's starts have been both brilliant and abysmal this season. He was shining in Nashville and led the first 10 laps. Photo: Octopi
Eli Tomac’s starts have been both brilliant and abysmal this season. He was shining in Nashville and led the first 10 laps. Photo: Octopi

Cooper Webb’s Delta is Tighter

Cooper Webb, the only other rider with multiple victories, has an average start position of 3.83 in races he won. In races he didn’t win? 5.73. Webb’s delta is much narrower (less than two positions) than Lawrence’s; his gap is over seven positions.

Notable First Turn Stats

  • The podium finishers have started in podium position 32 times within the 20 gate drops.
  • Only 3 times has 1st-2nd-3rd at the start all finished on the podium (SF, STL Race 3, NASH).
  • The worst start position to win this season is Cooper Webb in Seattle. He crossed the white line in 8th. It’s also the only time the winner has started outside the top 5.
  • A rider has finished on the podium 17 times after starting outside the top 5.