Supercross Preview: Eli Tomac bids for back-to-back wins

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After sweeping the top five in the first four rounds, Eli Tomac earned his first win of the 2019 Supercross season at San Diego last week. And with an average finish of third so far this year, he grabbed the lead from Cooper Webb who struggled to an eighth-place finish.

Last year’s Minneapolis race was a Triple Crown event with Tomac taking the overall victory on the strength of a win in the first race. This could afford him the opportunity to pad his advantage. Marvin Musquin won race two with Jason Anderson taking the third race of the weekend.

Another couple of pre-season favorites lined up behind Tomac in San Diego with Musquin earning his third consecutive runner-up finish and Ken Roczen completing his own season sweep of the top five with a third.

Mud was a great equalizer, however, and more than half of the 450 class earned season-best results including fourth-place Justin Bogle and a fifth-place for mud-specialist Chad Reed.

The open question this week will be whether some of the early season dark horses can ride back to the front or whether the favorites will maintain their positions. Minneapolis is a straightforward track with a lot of rhythm sections, some interesting combinations, and only one set of whoops. Veterans should quickly find the groove.

A long straight leading into a sweeping left-hand turn will allow riders to go side by side into the first rhythm section.

In the 250 class , the East hosts its first race so the riders will be fresh and ready to roll.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 2 p.m. on NBC Sports, Gold
Race: Live, 8 p.m. on NBCSN and NBC Sports, Gold

Last Week:

Eli Tomac won over Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Adam Cianciarulo won his second consecutive race and third of the season over Garrett Marchbanks and James Decotis in the 250 class.

Last year:

Eli Tomac beat Jason Anderson and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Jeremy Martin beat Zach Osborne and Jordon Smith in the 250 class.

Winners

450s:
[2] Cooper Webb (Anaheim II, Oakland)
[1] Justin Barcia (Anaheim I)
[1] Blake Baggett (Glendale)
[1] Eli Tomac (San Diego)

250 West:
[3] Adam Cianciarulo (Glendale, Oakland, San Diego)
[1] Colt Nichols (Anaheim I)
[1] Shane McElrath (Anaheim II)

Top-5s

450s:
Ken Roczen (5)
Eli Tomac (5)
Marvin Musquin (4)
Cooper Webb (3)
Dean Wilson (2)
Blake Baggett (2)
Justin Barcia (1)
Jason Anderson (1)
Justin Bogle (1)
Chad Reed (1)

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

Points Leaders

450s:
Eli Tomac (106)
Marvin Musquin (102)
Ken Roczen (102)
Cooper Webb (98)
Dean Wilson (80)

250 West:
Adam Cianciarulo (114)
Shane McElrath (105)
Colt Nichols (104)
Dylan Ferrandis (102)
RJ Hampshire (75)

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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)