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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.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter