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Eli Tomac, Austin Forkner win Detroit Supercross

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Eli Tomac ratcheted up the drama in the third Main of the Triple Crown format in Round 8 of the Supercross season on his way to the overall win. He was forced to come from behind after riding off course briefly during Lap 1 of the final moto/

In the first two Mains, Tomac was unassailable. He charged from 11th to first with two laps remaining to win the first Main. He passed Cooper Webb for the lead in Main 2 on Lap 6 through the whoops and had a chance to sweep the 450 class by winning all three Mains in a Triple Crown for the first time in Supercross 450s history.

Like the first Main, Tomac got a terrible start in the third, however, and saw his chance for perfection fade away. He fell all the way to 14th at one point before mounting his charge. This time he was not able to get all the way to the front, but secured a sixth-place finish that was enough for the overall victory. This is Tomac’s second win of the season.

“What really got me in that moto was when I went off the track on lap two or three and almost took the tough block [out] and had to go around this double,” Tomac said on NBCSN after the final race. “It shuffled me back. I mean I was back in the beginning [of the race], but that really put me in the pressure cooker there. And I was like, ‘Am I really doing this right now?’ So I got my head back in it and made the charge back.”

Webb showed poise in securing the second-place position overall. He fell back in Main 1 to finish sixth. He lost the lead to Tomac early in Main 2, but held on to finish second overall. He won the third Main – knowing it was his only chance to win the overall. He lost by one point, but managed to hold onto the points lead.

“I tried to reinvent the wheel; change the whole bike,” Webb said afterward. “I just wasn’t riding like myself. Wasn’t focused like I should have been. Like the old saying, ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ So I went back to original settings for the last [Main} and wouldn’t you know it? That was the best one.”

Chad Reed finished third, fifth and seventh to score third overall.

Ken Roczen (5-6-5) minimized his points deficiency to Webb with a fourth-place finish overall. With this result, he maintained his perfect record of top fives and held onto second in the standings.

Blake Baggett (4-11-2) rounded out the top five.

Complete Results
Points Standings

250s

Three 250 East races have resulted in only one winner.

Austin Forkner took his third straight win in dominant fashion over Jordan Smith. For the first time since Supercross has utilized the Triple Crown format in select events, a rider swept all three Mains.

“My starts were dialed all night,” Forkner told NBCSN after winning Main 3. “The last start was the best one I had all night and I knew I had it five feet out of the gate.”

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The real secret to his success? Pixy Stix. Yup, those little tubes of colored sugar that he downed between each Main. His crew credits them with boosting his energy level without putting enough sugar in his system to crash during the middle of the race.

Riding with a bone bruise in his wrist that he sustained last week in Arlington, Jordan Smith finished in the runner-up position in the first two Mains and was fourth in the third. That gave him eight points and the second-place finish.

Chase Sexton also swept the top five with results of fourth, fourth, and second to claim third overall. Sexton had a great start to the third Main and may have been able to catch Forkner if not for lapped traffic.

Justin Cooper stood on the podium in Main 1 and 3. He finished fifth in Main 2 to finish fourth overall.

Martin Davalos (5-7-5) rounded out the top five.

Complete Results
Points Standings

450 Main 1: Eli Tomac had to overcome a terrible start to chase down Justin Brayton. Tomac was 11th on Lap 1 while Brayton led the field after getting the holeshot. Tomac passed Brayton on the next-to-last lap for the Main 1 victory. … Chad Reed rounded out the top three with Blake Baggett in fourth. … The next highest finisher among the current title contenders was Ken Roczen in fifth. … Cooper Webb got the best start among the title contenders and was fourth on Lap 1, but he slipped to sixth at the checkers. … Marvin Musquin finished ninth.

450 Main 2: Eli Tomac charged through the whoops on Lap 6 and grabbed the lead from Cooper Webb. … After grabbing the holeshot, Webb stretched an advantage over the most of the field and held on for second. … The battle for third was a three-man scrum involving Joey Savatgy who nipped Marvin Musquin and Chad Reed at the checkers. … Ken Roczen got a bad start and fell to ninth on the first lap; he rebounded to finish sixth.

450 Main 3: Cooper Webb had a slow start to the evening, but he kept getting better with each Main. He took the lead on Lap 12. … Blake Baggett finished second after recovering from an off course excursion on Lap 8 when he was knocked wide by Justin Barcia – who also recovered to finish third. … Title contender Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac finished fourth through sixth.

450 Last Chance Qualifier: AJ Catanzaro grabbed the holeshot and held the lead to the checkers. … He beat Carlen Gardner by 1.810 seconds with Kyle Chisholm rounding out the top three. … The final transfer spot was decided as the clock wound down to zero; Ryan Breece elbowed Ronnie Stewart out of fourth.

250 Main 1: The only time Austin Forkner was challenged was during Lap 1. His battle with Jordon Smith soon resolved with Forkner in the lead, which he held until the checkers. … Riding with a sore wrist, Smith held on for second, but that position was hotly contested by Chase Sexton.  The two riders were handlebar-to-handlebar for most of the race until Sexton rode off track on the final lap. … Justin Cooper slipped past as Sexton dropped to fourth. … Martin Davalos rounded out the top five. … Forkner’s margin of victory in Main 1 was 10.080 seconds.

250 Main 2: One doesn’t get much TV time while running away from the field. Austin Forkner picked up at least a half second per lap after taking the lead on Lap 1 and beat Jordon Smith by 6.244 seconds. … Alex Martin took the last step of the podium. … Chase Sexton was able to stay on course through the end of this race and finished fourth. … Justin Cooper rounded out the top five. … Forkner’s average margin of victory so far was 8.162 seconds.

250 Main 3: Austin Forkner got the holeshot and led every lap on his way to a perfect evening. … He beat Chase Sexton by 2.945 seconds. … Justin Cooper stood on the bottom step of the podium to sweep the top three on the evening. … Jordon Smith and Martin Davalos rounded out the top five. … Forkner’s average margin of victory for the night was 6.423 seconds.

250 Last Chance Qualifier: Wilson Fleming took the win in the five-minute plus one lap sprint. … He beat Chase Marquier, Lorenzo Locurcio and Justin Thompson. … Locurcio passed Samuel Redman for fourth with 30 seconds on the clock before improving by one more spot for insurance. … Marshal Welton stuffed his wheel in a jump and collected Joey Crown before one lap was in the books; both riders finished in the back of the field off the lead lap.

Points Leaders

450s
Cooper Webb (173) (4 wins)
Ken Roczen (167)
Marvin Musquin (161)
Eli Tomac (160) (2 wins)
Dean Wilson (122)

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

250s East
Austin Forkner (78 points) (3 wins)
Jordon Smith (65)
Justin Cooper (63)
Chase Sexton (60)
Alex Martin (51)

Top 5s

450 top 5s
Ken Roczen: 8
Marvin Musquin: 6
Eli Tomac: 6
Cooper Webb: 6
Blake Baggett: 4
Dean Wilson: 2
Joey Savatgy: 2
Chad Reed: 2
Jason Anderson: 1
Justin Barcia: 1
Justin Bogle: 1
Justin Brayton: 1

250 West 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

250 East top 5s
Austin Forkner: 3
Jordon Smith: 3
Justin Cooper: 3
Chase Sexton: 3
Martin Davalos: 2
Alex Martin: 1

Next race: March 2, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

Newgarden, Rossi ready for a red-white-and-blue INDYCAR finale

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MONTEREY, California – In an international series that personifies diversity from all over the globe, the two main combatants in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship are from the United States.

Josef Newgarden of Tennessee takes a 41-point lead over Alexander Rossi of Northern California into Sunday’s double-points season finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca. This year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud of France, is just 42 points out of the lead.

It’s been quite a while since the two drivers entering the final race of the season were both Americans. Four of the top 10 drivers in the series are from the United States. Last year, five of the top 10 were from the USA.

All but one race in the 17-race NTT IndyCar Series schedule is contested in the United States.

Patriotism still matters in IndyCar.

“I think so,” said Andretti Autosport driver Rossi, who is the last American driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. “I know I’ve read a lot of things from other drivers saying, ‘It doesn’t matter, it’s not important, no one cares.’

“I can’t really get onboard with that.

“I think me as an American, growing up, being a fan of the Olympics and everything, like you cheer for Americans, right? That’s what you do as a patriotic person. Canadians cheer for James. We see the Swedish contingent that comes to the races for Marcus Ericsson and Felix Rosenqvist.

Getty Images“I think Americans will cheer for Americans. I would love to see an American to win the championship. I think it’s important for the young kids watching hoping to be IndyCar drivers one day, that they see someone who grew up in Tennessee or California or wherever. It’s like, there’s a lot of relate-ability to that for a young kid with aspirations of being a racecar driver.”

Since Sam Hornish, Jr. won the final of his three IndyCar Series championships in 2006, just two American drivers have won the title – Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012 and Newgarden in 2017. During that span, Scott Dixon of New Zealand won four of his five NTT IndyCar Series championships and Dario Franchitti of Scotland won all four of his IndyCar titles.

The last time two Americans had a chance to win the championship in the final race of the season came in 2001 when Hornish won the championship over Colorado’s Buddy Lazier. Connecticut’s Scott Sharp was third and Arizona’s Billy Boat was fourth in the final standings that year.

That was a much different time and place for IndyCar. At that time, many of the top drivers were in CART while the old Indy Racing League featured a predominantly American lineup. Once unification brought the two sides together in 2008, the championships have been fought on American soil, but international drivers were victorious.

The last time two American drivers finished 1-2 in CART was 1996 when Jimmy Vasser of California defeated Pennsylvania’s Michael Andretti for the crown. In 1992, Bobby Rahal of Illinois defeated Andretti and Al Unser, Jr. of New Mexico for the CART title.

Prior to that, the IndyCar “National Championship” was dominated by drivers from the United States.

 

While Rossi openly choose to wrap himself in the American flag, it’s not as important to Newgarden.

“For me, it’s never been something I put a lot of emphasis on,” said the Team Penske driver. “I’m proud to have grown up in such a wonderful country as the United States, but what I’ve always loved about the IndyCar Series is that they bring the best of the best from around the world. That’s always been important to me.

“It means more I think when you have the best from all over the place coming to compete at the Indianapolis 500, during the whole championship. You really feel like you have that in the IndyCar Series. You get the best drivers from around the world.

“To pair with that, I think we need strong Americans running, as well. So for sure, having guys like Alex and Graham Rahal, some young guys coming up like Colton Herta, myself, it’s really great to have young American competition representing as well and running so strongly.

“What I’ve always loved is the great mix of talent from around the world. To me that’s just so important. If it was all Americans running in the championship, I don’t think it would mean as much. I like that we have that great diversity and that great mix from around the world.”

Although these two drivers are both from the USA, they are fierce rivals. They have mutual respect for each other, but they sure aren’t considered close friends.

“Josef and I honestly aren’t that close,” Rossi admitted. “He never lived in Indy when I moved here, or he was just moving. I actually never really hung out with Josef.

“We obviously have a lot of respect for each other. We raced together for a short period of time in Europe. We have a lot of mutual friends.

“Josef and I don’t talk or socialize really. So, it doesn’t have any impact.”

Newgarden agrees that these two men choose to embrace the rivalry.

“I think it’s just really business,” Newgarden said. “He lives in Indianapolis. I live in Nashville. I don’t see him too often outside of the racetrack. We go and we compete. He’s a great competitor. He’s definitely a tremendous talent, has done a great job in his career.

“It’s been a good, competitive relationship I would say.”

With the return of American drivers capable of winning races, championships and Indianapolis 500s, it has sparked a rejuvenation in IndyCar racing. With drivers from all over the world fighting it out for glory, this series that was born and bred in the United States can take pride in featuring some of the best racing in the world as the series continues to grow in popularity.

“I think we just need to continue a focus on our product,” Rossi said. “I think we have the best race product on the planet in terms of entertainment, the variance of winners that we have throughout a season, how many guys are capable, teams are capable of winning races.

“But that’s an ever-moving target. I think IndyCar has done a good job of placing the priority on that. I just think we need to continue doing that and everything will be moving in the right direction.”