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2019 Supercross schedule announced, triple crown returns

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On the heels of his $1 million win and triple crown championship, Eli Tomac is already anticipating the 2019 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season. The 17-race season drew more than one million fans in 2018.

“We’re really looking forward to defending the Triple Crown Championship in 2019,” Tomac said in a press release. “The team was excited to take home the inaugural championship last year, and the three Main Event format is the same as the Monster Energy Cup, which we just recently won. Of course, the goal is always to win the overall Supercross Championship, but these races should be fun for the fans because they are short, fast and intense.”

In 2019, the three cities to host the Triple Crown will Anaheim, California at Angel Stadium, Detroit’s Ford Field, and Houston’s NRG Stadium.

Anaheim’s race will run on January 19 in conjunction with the third race on the schedule. Detroit will be held February 23 and Houston will run on March 30.

During these weekends, three Main Events will be run instead of the typical one. Qualification races will advance 22 riders into the mains in each class. Olympic-style scoring will allow contribute to the riders’ overall position, which in turn will award championship points.

I addition, two 250SX class East/West Showdown races are part of the schedule. On March 2 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and May 4 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. The fastest 22 riders from both regions will get a rare opportunity to race head-to-head in these events.

“I think the East/West showdowns are really cool and a fun change in the schedule, especially for the fans,” said Christian Craig of GEICO Honda. “The best part is probably finding out which coast is more dominant or if they are pretty even.”

The 2019 season will also feature the highly anticipated runs of four rookies in the premier class. Joey Savatgy, Justin Hill, Zach Osborne and Aaron Plessinger will all debut on 450s January 5 at Angel Stadium. 

Don’t know the Rolex 24? You should. Here’s why.

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Hello, America. It’s time to go racing again.

Yes, Supercross is now three weeks into its season, and the Chili Bowl Nationals is now effectively the Christopher Bell Invitational after the young NASCAR star won his 3rd consecutive Golden Driller last weekend.

But the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the first marquee event on the American racing calendar – an event that just happens to have international prestige.

It’s also the start of Daytona Speedweeks, which culminates with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. But this is no mere opening act just warming up the crowd for the headliner.

In case you’re new to this event, here are a few reasons why it stands out:

Twice around the clock: Are you the kind of person that appreciates a challenge? Well, challenges don’t get much bigger in motorsports than a 24-hour endurance race where drivers, crews, machines, and strategies must work together flawlessly. For those behind the wheel in the Rolex 24, the obstacles are numerous: Punishing G-forces, extreme mental focus, lack of sleep, and staying on top of hydration and nutrition.

Star power: Speaking of those behind the wheel, the Rolex 24 traditionally draws top drivers from other disciplines such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR to join sports car regulars from North America and around the world. As a result, the winners’ list is a Who’s Who of Motorsports.

This year’s field includes a clutch of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, highlighted by 5-time series champion and past Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon. But pre-race buzz has centered on two particular interlopers: Alex Zanardi, the former CART champion making his first North American start since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, and Fernando Alonso, the two-time F1 champion looking to add another endurance triumph alongside his win with Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Cool cars: If you’re a gearhead, the Rolex 24 is a 200-mile-per-hour candy store. Across the four separate classes of competition, 13 of the world’s premier car manufacturers are represented.

The majority of those manufacturers are found in the Grand Touring classes that feature vehicles based on road-going production models. Chevy and Ford’s eternal rivalry rages on in the factory-backed GT Le Mans, but the class also boasts efforts from BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari. It’s even more diverse in the pro-am GT Daytona, where Porsche is joined by Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes.

As for the exotic, purpose-built Daytona Prototypes, they are powered by engines from Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan.

Nifty fifty: This year’s Rolex 24 begins the 50th anniversary season for IMSA, the sanctioning body for North American sports car racing. A select group of teams will mark the occasion at the Rolex 24 by running historic IMSA paint schemes on their machines. You may not be familiar with these looks, but it’s worth discovering the history behind them.

Here’s an example. The Starworks Motorsports team (GT Daytona) will carry a scheme based on Audi of America’s 90 Quattro from the 1989 IMSA GTO season. Boasting sports car legends Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the driver lineup, the 90 Quattro captured 7 GTO wins that season.

Audi’s performance led one competitor to create a “no passing” sticker with Stuck’s face on it. Stuck’s response: A doll fixed to his car’s rear window that dropped its pants to moon anyone Stuck put behind him.

Status symbol: Last but not least, the Rolex 24 has a unique prize – a trophy you can wear.

Winners get a standard cup, but what they’re really after are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches, which include a special engraving to commemorate their victory. A standard version of this watch retails for tens of thousands of dollars, but you can’t put a price on the ones awarded at the Rolex 24.

This year’s grand marshal, 5-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett, sums it up as “the ultimate reward.”

“To be presented a watch engraved with the word ‘Winner’ after 24 hours of intense racing is a moment that lives with you forever,” he added. “Your Rolex is a constant reminder of the perseverance and hard work that goes into succeeding at the highest level.”