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Eli Tomac’s wins come with cost

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There is a cost associated with winning and it is not always to long hours spent away from friends and family. In the case of Eli Tomac in 2019, that cost has been paid in the form of consistency – or rather the lack thereof.

At the beginning of the season, Tomac scored four consecutive results of fourth or better. The best of these was a pair of third-place finishes in Anaheim’s two races. Victory eluded him and without a second-place finish to his credit, it didn’t seem all that close.

But Tomac was able to keep the pressure on after Cooper Webb finished 10th in Round 2 at Glendale and Marvin Musquin began the season with an eighth in Anaheim I. Ken Roczen, the other title contender, was on a downward trajectory that began with a second in Anaheim I and got progressively worse by one spot until he finished fifth at Oakland.

Entering San Diego, Webb was on a two-race winning streak, but since those were the first two wins of his season, everyone waited for him to stumble – and he did in Southern California mud with an eighth-place finish.

Tomac was poised to pounce. And pounce he did: His win in Round 5 gave him the red plate and a four-point margin over Musquin. After four rounds that featured riders getting their first, second or third career wins, the veteran may have thought he was ready to take control.

Tomac’s San Diego victory wasn’t exactly pyrrhic – that is defined as a triumph that costs so much as to effectively be a loss – but Tomac has not been the same since.

Mistakes were made at Minneapolis. A poor start dropped him deep in the pack and he could ride only to sixth. It was worse at Arlington, were Tomac finished a distant 12th.

In the past six weeks, Eli Tomac has been all or nothing. (SupercrossLIVE.com)

Then, he won at Detroit. In fact, he won three times that weekend with a pair of Main events and the overall in the Triple Crown race. Tomac stumbled again the following week and finished sixth at Atlanta – dropping him to fourth in the standings as Webb continued to pad his lead.

So now he’s won again. This time taking one of the most prestigious victories in the form of the Daytona Supercross. He moved back into a tie for second-place in the standings.

Unfortunately, the focus is starting to shift. Even with his win, Tomac shaved only three points off Webb’s lead last week and 19 markers currently separate the two. Seven races remain and with three more wins and two runner-up finishes in the last five races, Webb has been more consistent and stronger than Tomac. If Webb refuses to stumble, Tomac has to run the table.

There is a cost associated with winning a championship, and now that Tomac has three wins in the books, he just may need to shift his attention to riding well and finishing on the podium.

NBC’s Sport Gold Supercross / Motocross season pass can be purchased at https://www.nbcsports.com/gold.

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Indianapolis 500 weather forecast: Rain chances decreasing for start

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INDIANAPOLIS — As the green flag keeps approaching for the 103rd Indianapolis 500, the chances of clear skies Sunday keep increasing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The chance of rain at the start of the race was down to about 30%, according to the wunderground.com site as of late Saturday night, and the forecast seemed good until late afternoon when the odds of precipitation rose to about 80%.

If the race starts on time at12:45 p.m. ET, that should be a long enough window to run the full 500 miles and certainly an official race (102 of 200 laps).

With Indiana on the western edge of the Eastern Time Zone and a 9:02 p.m. sunset on race day, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president Doug Boles said the green flag probably could be held as late as 6 p.m. if a worst-case scenario of bad weather hits.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch

“We ran the NASCAR race (in 2017) almost right up to sunset,” Boles said. “The challenge of getting closer to sunset is just getting people out when it’s still light. The race itself is more than 2 hours and 40 minutes so you have to back-time yourself.

“We’ll sit down with IndyCar over the next 24 hours and at least have that in the back of our mind. If there’s a window to get it done, our intent would be get it in Sunday, so we would want to go as late as we could.”

Boles said National Weather Service representatives are on site this weekend to help with forecasting. Regardless of if there still is a threat of rain, the track will start the race on time as long as the surface is dry.

“I can’t imagine we’d postpone the start because we think it might rain,” Boles said. “If it’s not raining, we’re running the race.

Boles said track officials are monitoring Sunday’s weather daily but won’t discuss any potential contingency plans until Saturday night. Regardless of whether it’s raining Sunday morning, some pre-race ceremonies likely will remain in place.

“It’s hard to speculate on what’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s likely Sunday morning will be the first time that we have any definitive statement on what we think is going to happen. Instead of giving you information that we don’t know what it’s going to be like, I’d rather wait until that Sunday when we see the conditions, and we’ll let you know.

“Obviously, if it’s raining, then we’ll have to decide what the next steps are.”

Boles said Indiana weather traditionally is unpredictable, noting that qualifying was completed last Sunday despite predictions of a complete washout.

“Last year the prediction was it was going to rain on race day, we got up next morning, and it was perfect,” Boles said. “It just changes so rapidly around here.”

Should it rain, IndyCar officials will make every reasonable attempt to run the Indy 500 on time,. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway also recently used a new sealant on the track surface which makes it quicker to dry the racing surface.

During the previous 102 runnings of the Indy 500, there have been 12 impacted by rain: three complete postponements; two partial postponements and seven shortened races.

So what happens if it does rain? Some options:

Rain-shortened race

The Indy 500 could turn into the Indy 255. If more than 255 miles (102 laps) are completed in Sunday’s race, the race can be deemed official. If the race is called, driver’s finishing positions are based on their position in the race at the time of the caution flag for rain.

The Indy 500 has been shortened by rain only seven times, most recently in 2007. The race was stopped nearly three hours because of rain on Lap 113 and was declared officially over with Dario Franchitti in the lead when rain again hit at the 415-mile mark.

Partial postponement

If fewer than 102 laps are completed Sunday, the race will resume on the next dry day. With most Americans on holiday Monday because of Memorial Day, a partial postponement still might allow for a healthy audience at the track and watching on NBC.

The race has been partially postponed only twice in the 102 previous runnings, in 1967 and 1973.

Complete postponement

Fans shouldn’t worry too much about a complete postponement of the race, as it has only happened three times, most recently in 1997. If rain completely postpones the Indy 500, the race will be rescheduled for the next day with the start time dependent on the forecast.

The 1997 race ran 15 laps on Monday before rain again postponed the remainder of the race until Tuesday. The 1915 and ’86 runnings were postponed until the following Saturday.