Eli Tomac has finally collected the victory we've all been anticipating.
The journey to determine #WhosNext in the 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, took another turn in the second race of the season from Chase Field on Saturday. A thrilling battle between two of the sport's rising stars led to the first ever 450SX Class Main Event win for GEICO Honda's Eli Tomac in front of a crowd of 49,672 fans. In the Western Regional 250SX Class, Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha's Cooper Webb made it a night of firsts with his maiden victory, giving that division back-to-back first-time winners to start the season.
Tomac vs. Roczen
The key to Tomac's triumphant effort was his start, grabbing the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot Award just ahead of Red Bull KTM's Ryan Dungey and RCH Soaring Eagle/Jimmy John's Factory Suzuki's Ken Roczen, last week's opening race winner and 450SX Class points leader. Roczen seized the opportunity to take over the lead early on the opening lap and established a multiple bike-length lead over Tomac.
After biding his time searching for faster lines, Tomac began to close in and pressure Roczen, making his first pass for the lead on Lap 6 and setting off an exchange at the front of the field that brought the Chase Field crowd to its feet. Both second-year riders traded the lead several times over the course of two laps before Tomac made it stick on Lap 8. Once he assumed control of the position, Tomac was able to extend his advantage and win comfortably in his 15th start in the 450SX Class. Tomac also became the 58th different 450SX Class winner in Monster Energy Supercross history.
An incredible win
"That was one of the [most fun] races of my life and to come away with a win is a cherry on top," exclaimed Tomac, who crashed twice in last weekend's Main Event en route to a 20th-place finish. "To beat a guy like Ken [Roczen]; we respect each other and race each other hard. It's just great. We definitely put our biggest effort into this [after last weekend's misfortunes], and this is what he came out here to do."
Roczen easily brought home the runner-up finish, giving him 1-2 results to start the season.
"I got off to a fast start but overall I didn't feel the greatest tonight," said Roczen. "I put it down the first 10 laps [or so], but then Eli got me. He rode better than me tonight, but I'm very happy to finish on the podium. We'll do some work this week and come out next weekend looking to get a good start, ride smart and come away with another good result."
The battle for third lasted nearly the entirety of the Main Event between Dungey and Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha's Weston Peick. Despite starting up front with Roczen and Tomac, Dungey lost the position to Peick early and was unable to make up any significant ground until the closing laps, when he made the pass to finish on the podium on Lap 17 of 20. It was Dungey's first podium result of the season, while Peick's fourth place finish was the best of his career.
Other things of note
Other notable finishers were Monster Energy Kawasaki's Davi Millsaps in fifth, following a 19th-place finish last weekend, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing's Jason Anderson in sixth, Team Honda's Trey Canard in eighth, Discount Tire Racing/TwoTwo Motorsports' Chad Reed in 10th and Autotrader.com/Toyota/Yamaha's Justin Barcia in 11th.
Roczen maintains control of the 450SX Class championship standings, holding a nine-point lead over Dungey, who moved into second. Anderson sits third, 10 points behind. Tomac's victory vaulted him from 20th to seventh, 21 points out of the lead.