Photo: Luis Torres/Motorsports Tribune

A Homecoming Victory for Levi Kitchen in Seattle

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

SEATTLE — In front of 58,000 passionate Supercross fans at Lumen Field in Washington, Washougal’s Levi Kitchen put on a class performance in the 250SX West main event where he was at a different zip code.

It was a superb effort by Kitchen that podium finishers RJ Hampshire and Jo Shimoda had nothing for the hometown racer during the main event as Kitchen beat Hampshire by 21.051 seconds.

Saturday’s wire-to-wire triumph also marked Kitchen’s third AMA Monster Energy Supercross Championship win and the first outside of the triple crown events.

“It’s definitely big for me,” said Kitchen. “It was a little nerve wracking when I came around the first lap and it was like super loud. For me it kind of feels like my first win because I’ve only won triple crowns, so to do that in front of all the fans and stuff was pretty awesome.”

While the 23-year-old now resides in Florida, Kitchen explained that his plan after the race was spending time with friends and family in the Evergreen State before shifting his focus to the next round in St. Louis.

Additionally, Kitchen explained scoring a main event win where he’s able to partake in the madness which includes the fireballs between the track once the gate drops.

“It’s huge for me just the confidence in, but it’s also one of those things you just have to take every race as it comes,” said Kitchen. “I really gelled with the track and next week one of these guys could really gel with the track. We’re all pretty close right now and we all have our really good days and sometimes we’re a little bit off. I’ve been in the position RJ’s in plenty of times.”

Seattle marked the first 250SX West race since State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona in early February. For Kitchen, extending his points lead to eight points over Hampshire meant he’ll keep the red plate on his No. 47 Kawasaki.

Kitchen admitted of running after a long break felt like it’s the start of the season all over again, knowing he had to be on his peas and cues to maintain the red plate for next Saturday’s race.

“It was definitely weird showing up here. It kind of felt like the first race again because it really did feel like quite a while,” said Kitchen. “The break was nice and obviously having the red plate, there’s a little bit of pressure. That was a little bit weird and I just mean that like during the break.

“Every practice day I’m like, ‘I don’t wanna be an idiot and have something stupid happen.’ That was the only thing I really noticed though.”

For a period of time, Hampshire was running in third until a late-race spill by Jordon Smith where one rough bump sent his No. 31 Yamaha front wheel first onto the ground. Smith fell down and collided into the robo camera.

Consequently, Smith’s podium hopes were dashed and finished an agonizing 14th as Hampshire scored his 18th career podium in 62 career 250SX starts.

As far as coming up short, Hampshire explained that Kitchen had him beat all day long. To avoid any risks where pushing his No. 24 Husqvarna to the limit will make him uncomfortable, Hampshire had to settle with where he finished and hope things turn around in next Saturday’s 250SX West race.

“I did not have the speed to win. Levi clearly had me covered all day. Honestly, after the heat race, I haven’t had that feeling where I’m like, ‘Man, I can’t go that fast,'” Hampshire explained.

“That’s literally where I was at. He was going ridiculously fast and I just didn’t feel comfortable doing that. The suspension guy made a really good call. I went back on everything that we tested for the six-week break and went back to the same bike I raced to Phoenix for the main event.

“Once I got in the third, like I was like, ‘Hey, I’ll take that tonight.’ It’s been a rough day. Once I seen Smitty go down, I’m pretty sure I started doubling that rhythm. I was probably the first one to go double the whole time. But yeah, just really tough night. I did not have what Levi had.”

Rounding out the podium was Suzuka, Japan’s Jo Shimoda, who recovered from an opening lap crash to score his second podium of the season and seventh overall of his Supercross career. Compared to most of the season, Shimoda has built momentum but he knows it’ll only get tougher from this point forward.

“The class is like just getting tighter and tighter where you can’t have any mistakes,” said Shimoda. “I lost probably about 10 seconds on the first lap with the crash. Probably another 10 seconds. There’s no room for mistakes.”

From the mud show in Seattle to the dome in St. Louis, the 250SX West division won’t have to worry about weather being a problem. Live coverage of next Saturday’s race at the Dome at America’s Center begins when the gate drops at 7:00 p.m. ET on Peacock.

2024 AMA Supercross Seattle 250SX West Main Event Results

  1. 47 – Levi Kitchen
  2. 24 – RJ Hampshie
  3. 30 – Jo Shimoda
  4. 26 – Garrett Marchbanks
  5. 41 – Carson Mumford
  6. 76 – Michael Mosiman
  7. 929 – Julien Beaumer
  8. 100 – Anthony Bourdon
  9. 57 – Nate Thrasher
  10. 71 – Cole Thompson
  11. 36 – Phillip Nicoletti
  12. 73 – Robbie Wageman
  13. 34 – Ryder DiFrancesco
  14. 31 – Jordon Smith
  15. 35 – Talon Hawkins
  16. 85 – Hunter Yoder
  17. 473 – Lux Turner
  18. 116 – TJ Albright
  19. 245 – Matti Jorgensen
  20. 78 – Joshua Varize
  21. 162 – Max Sanford
  22. 88 – Dylan Walsh

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media and a three-time National Motorsports Press Association award winner in photography. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography with ambitions of having his work recognized.