SupercrossLIVE

Eli Tomac scores first 2019 Supercross win at San Diego

Leave a comment

Round 5 of the 2019 Supercross season came down to who made the least costly mistake. Eli Tomac got hung up on a tough block with three laps remaining and lost 10 seconds while he extricated himself. Fortunately, he had a 26 second lead at the time and held his advantage. His trouble wasn’t over yet, however; on the final lap, he also had to avoid a fallen Alex Ray before he was able to ascend to the top step of the podium.

With his win, Tomac took the points lead.

Marvin Musquin took advantage of a bobble by Roczen on the final straight of the final lap to score his third consecutive runner-up finish.

Roczen grabbed the hole shot, but gave the lead away when he fell off the first tabletop. Roczen recovered and climbed to second until Musquin passed him on the final lap. He crossed under the checkers third, to score his fifth top-five in five races this season.

“I got a perfect start,” Roczen told NBCSN after the race. “I really jumped out of the gate – hooked up great. Almost went down in the first turn. It was really slippery. I threw it away in the second turn over there. I couldn’t believe it because having a clear track there would have really helped.”

Mud is a great equalizer and it contributed to a pair of best season finishes for the drivers finishing fourth and fifth. Fourth-place Justin Bogle’s previous best this year was a 10th in last week’s Oakland race. Chad Reed finished fifth after scoring ninths at Anaheim in the opener and again at Oakland.

Rain pelted San Diego before the race began making this the muddiest weekend of the season. As a result of the conditions, the Main events for both the 450 and 250 class were shortened by five minutes.

In total, more than half the field scored or tied their best result of the season including sixth-place Aaron Plessinger and seventh-place Joey Savatgy.

Justin Hill crashed in qualification. He was taken to the hospital to evaluate whether he sustained a rib injury.

On Lap 6, Cooper Webb went down while running fifth. Webb got hard on the brake when Musquin stopped abruptly in front of him. Webb fell to eighth in the rundown and lost his points lead. Webb left San Diego fourth in the standings – eight markers behind Tomac.

Complete Results
Points Standings

250s

It is important to get an early lead with a heavy track – especially in a shortened Main. By Lap 3, Adam Cianciarulo had a 12-second lead over Dylan Ferrandis. With his sizeable lead, Cianciarulo was able to ride a smart race and finished 8.574 seconds ahead of Garrett Marchbanks to score his third victory of the season. With that win, he took the points lead as the West division takes a couple of weeks off.

Marchbank’s second-place finish was a career best.

James Decotis scored his best finish of the season in third. It was his second top five, following a fifth at Glendale.

Shane McElrath had a terrible weekend. He dropped to 16th in his heat and had to use the LCQ to advance. He fell again early in the Main and was forced to work his way from 20th on Lap 1. McElrath climbed all the way to fourth and missed the podium by one position.

Jess Pettis rounded out the top five in fifth and scored his best career result.

Colt Nichols entered San Diego with the points lead by three over Cianciarulo. He was a victim of the mud on the opening laps and dropped to 15th-place position at the end of Lap 3. He finished 10th and lost three positions in the standings.

On the last lap, Dylan Ferrandis got stuck in the mud and could not make his way to the finish line. He dropped from second to seventh with the incident.

Complete Results
Points Standings

450 Heat 1: Ken Roczen needed the confidence that comes with a heat win – and he got it. … Points leader Cooper Webb had a promising start to the weekend with his second place finish. … Joey Savatgy rounded out the top three. … Justin Barcia won the opening round of the Supercross season in the mud at Anaheim; he finished fourth in his Round 5 heat.

450 Heat 2: Eli Tomac took the lead from Aaron Plessinger on the final lap of the heat as the two riders finished 1-2. … Plessinger and Justin Bogle swapped the lead on Lap 1. … Marvin Musquin finished third. … Bogle went down twice midway through the heat. He recovered with the lead after the first fall; he was less fortunate with the second trip to the ground while trying to clear his clutch handle of mud. Bogle faded to fifth, but finished in a transfer position.

450 Last Chance Qualifier: Ben Lamay made his third Main of the season; he finished 18th in both Anaheim races. … Lamay beat Theodore Pauli, Alex Ray and Carlen Gardner, who also transferred. This is Pauli’s first Main.

250 Heat 1: Dylan Ferrandis mastered the mud in the first heat and beat Adam Cianciarulo by .774 seconds. Enzo Lopes finished a distant 30 seconds behind in third. In the six-minute, heat only seven riders finished on the lead lap. … On the opening lap, Jerry Robin caught the edge of a jump and ate the landing.

250 Heat 2: RJ Hampshire found the inside rut in Turn 1 of Lap 1 and grabbed the lead over points leader Colt Nichols; they held their positions until the checkers. It was the second heat win of the year. … James Decotis rounded out the top three. … Shane McElrath – who was third entering the event – got mired behind Hampshire at the gate drop and fell back early. He kept falling and finished 16th in the 20-bike field.

250 Last Chance Qualifier: Garrett Marchbanks scored his first LCQ victory over Shane McElrath. Deegan Vonlossberg and Chris Howell also advanced to the Main.

Points Leaders

450s
Eli Tomac (106) (1 win)
Marvin Musquin (102)
Ken Roczen (102)
Cooper Webb (98) (2)
Blake Baggett (80) (1)
Dean Wilson (80)

250s West
Adam Cianciarulo (114 points) (3 wins)
Shane McElrath (106) (1)
Colt Nichols (104) (1)
Dylan Ferrandis (102)
RJ Hampshire (75)

450 top 5s

Ken Roczen: 5
Eli Tomac: 5
Marvin Musquin: 4
Cooper Webb: 3
Dean Wilson: 2
Blake Baggett: 2
Jason Anderson: 1
Justin Barcia: 1
Justin Bogle: 1
Chad Reed: 1

250 top 5s

Adam Cianciarulo: 5
Shane McElrath: 5
Colt Nichols: 4
RJ Hampshire: 3
Dylan Ferrandis: 3
James Decotis: 2
Jacob Hayes: 1
Garrett Marchbanks: 1
Jess Pettis: 1

Next race: February 9, US Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NHRA: Steve Torrence’s 2nd Top Fuel title was emotional roller coaster day

Leave a comment

There’s no question Steve Torrence is a proud Texan. When he’s not strapping on his racing helmet, the Kilgore, Texas resident proudly wears a black cowboy hat and shiny boots practically everywhere he goes.

It’s just part of who one of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons is.

Torrence also has a great deal to be proud of after winning his second consecutive Top Fuel championship in Sunday’s NHRA season-ending national event at Pomona, California.

In doing so, he joins seven of the biggest names in drag racing history to win back-to-back titles: Don Garlits, Joe Amato, the late Scott Kalitta, Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon and Antron Brown.

Torrence followed up last season’s 11 wins – including being the first driver to win all six Countdown to the Championship playoff races – with nine wins in 2019, giving him 36 career wins and 55 final round appearances in his career.

But as he was interviewed shortly after he clinched the championship — even though he lost in the semifinal round of eliminations — instead of being effusive and ecstatic, Torrence was also uncharacteristically somewhat solemn and melancholy at the same time.

After publicly thanking his team – “the best in the business,” as Torrence frequently says – he also quickly paid tribute to a young man from Texas by the name of Brandon Seegers, who was tragically killed in an ATV accident last week (the young man in glasses is pictured in the tweet below).

Torrence wanted the world to know who Brandon was, calling him one of Torrence Racing’s biggest fans. It wasn’t lip service. Brandon – a 15-year-old freshman football player at Carthage (Texas) High School – truly was one of Torrence’s biggest supporters. He’ll be buried Tuesday.

Torrence also paid tribute to Brandon’s parents. The young man’s father has worked 30 years for Capco Contractors Inc., an oil and gas company owned by Torrence’s family. In a sense, because of their close relationship, Brandon and his parents are extended members of the Torrence family.

“This is for the Seegers family, who lost their little boy the Wednesday of last week,” Torrence said. “He was the biggest Capco fan there was. We’re taking the championship trophy home to him. We’re going to give it to all the Capco guys and his family.”

Admit it, when was the last time you heard someone in sports win a championship and then dedicate that effort to a young fan who was tragically killed just a few days earlier in an accident.

But that’s the kind of guy Torrence is, one of the classiest individuals in motorsports. And if you don’t really know who he is, you should, because you might understand why Torrence is who he is.

At the age of 36, Torrence is not just a survivor of the 1,000-foot dragstrips wars from New Hampshire to Seattle to Phoenix to Gainesville and everywhere in-between.

He’s also a survivor of something much more important: Before he was Steve Torrence, two-time NHRA Top Fuel champ, he was Steve Torrence, cancer and heart attack survivor. That kind of thing gives someone a much different perspective than most other individuals.

Torrence knows how fortunate he is to not only be a two-time champion, but more importantly, to be alive to earn and enjoy both of those titles. He came close, really close, to not being here anymore. That’s why Brandon’s death hit Torrence so hard.

He even tried to keep from choking up when he told the crowd about who his young friend Brandon was.

Torrence spent much of the weekend at Pomona thinking about his young fan. It definitely affected Torrence’s mindset and demeanor, especially on Sunday, with the pressure packed championship on the line.

To illustrate how different Torrence acted, he was involved in an incident after the first round that was completely out of character. While he may be one of the most competitive drivers on the NHRA circuit, he’s also normally a very level-headed, calm and cool persona.

Torrence uncharacteristically slapped young opponent and part-time Top Fuel driver Cameron Ferre in the face at the end of the drag strip after they climbed from their race cars following their first round run and exchanged words.

Normally a fan favorite, Torrence was uncharacteristically criticized on social media and was met with a wave of fan boos after the race when he climbed on stage to accept his championship trophy and the big check that came with it. A contrite Torrence eventually issued a public apology to both Ferre and fans, admitting he was wrong. The NHRA is reviewing the incident and still could penalize Torrence.

“Tensions are high,” Torrence told NHRA.com. “There’s a lot of crap going on out there, but there’s still no excuse for me acting that way. I apologize to every fan, all my racing friends and racing rivals. It was a heat-of-the moment reaction on a day when emotions were high, especially in the Capco camp. I talked to Cameron and we’ll just put it behind us and move on.”

Given the championship pressure and what he was enduring emotionally, Sunday may not have been Torrence’s finest moment or best day professionally or personally. But at the same time, he further cemented why he’s on his way to becoming one of the best drivers in Top Fuel history, that he makes mistakes and was man enough to admit when he made one.

He also cares for others and what they go through perhaps more than most because he himself came so close to not being around to enjoy the success he has enjoyed to date – and all the additional success that he’s likely to continue to enjoy for many more years to come.

 

Follow @JerryBonkowski