Las Vegas 450 Supercross: Tomac wins the battle; Webb wins the war

SupercrossLIVE.com
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Eli Tomac did all he could Saturday night in Las Vegas. He jumped out to an early lead and stretched his advantage seemingly every lap, ending the night more than 12 seconds ahead of Marvin Musquin.

Heck, Tomac did all he could for the last four rounds of the Supercross season – sweeping the podium and winning back to back races at Nashville and Denver.  It just wasn’t enough to catch Cooper Webb for the championship.

“It was all I could do tonight, was to control my destiny,” Tomac said after the race. “Getting out front early with the holeshot and really rode a clean race. Better than that heat race.  More mistake free.”

Tomac’s comfortable lead over the field allowed him to stay focus. On several occasions during the past few rounds, he’s had to overcome accidents and mental errors that kept him from being even more dominant that his four-race podium streak suggests.

But, just as he’s done all year long, Cooper Webb refused to go bobble. Finishing third on the night, he scored his 12 consecutive top five dating back to Minneapolis in Round 6 – all but one of these was a podium.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” Webb said after the race on USA Network. “The change this year. I was a washed up 10th-place guy last year and this KTM team believed in me … and transformed me and got me back to what I always knew I could be.

“I really can’t believe it. This year was really not expected at all.”

Musquin’s second-place finish was enough to secure third in the standings. In another year, his season might have been enough to claim the Number 1 plate. He scored 14 top-five finishes in 17 rounds, but with teammate Webb winning more often and scoring an average finish of 2.88 to Musquin’s 3.44, he had to settle for a simply great season instead of a near-perfect one.

Fittingly, the rider who was fourth in the standings finished fourth in the race as well. All season long the battle has belonged to Webb, Tomac, Musquin and Ken Roczen, but in recent weeks Roczen has faded with six results outside the top five in the last seven rounds. That was a stark reversal of fortune for the rider who started the season with nine top-fives. He has the consolation of ending on a high note.

The winner of Heat 1, Zach Osborne rounded out the top five to earn his third such finish in the last four weeks. Those are also his only top-fives this season.

Complete Results
Points Standings

Heat 1: After scoring top-fives in two of his last three Mains, Zach Osborne is on a roll. He earned the holeshot and led flag to flag. … Marvin Musquin pressured him hard on the last lap, but rode him clean and settled for second. … Blake Baggett rounded out the top three. … Back in ninth, Adam Enticknap grabbed the last transfer spot. … Joan Cros was the first rider of the outside looking in.

Heat 2: Eli Tomac needed to make a statement in his heat. He took second on Lap 3. One lap later, he charged Cooper Webb hard and tapped his wheel, but the pressure got to Tomac and like he’s done on several occasions in the past few weeks, he nearly crashed in the rhythm section. Tomac momentarily gave up the spot to Cole Seely, but regrouped and grabbed the lead just as they took the white flag. … Webb let him go and finished second. … Seely held onto third. … Carlen Gardner grabbed the final transfer spot in ninth.

Last Chance Qualifier: Alex Ray made a power move on the high speed section outside of the stadium and took the lead from Scott Champion – who held on to finish second. … Tevin Tapia was two seconds back in third with Charles Lefrancois in fourth. It was a night of near misses for Joan Cros, who finished just one spot outside the transfer spot in both his heat and the LCQ.

Points Leaders

450SX
Cooper Webb (379) (7 wins)
Eli Tomac (361) (6 wins)
Marvin Musquin (350) (2 wins)
Ken Roczen (319)
Blake Baggett (290) (1 win)

Top 5s

450SX
Cooper Webb: 15
Marvin Musquin: 14
Eli Tomac: 14
Ken Roczen: 11
Blake Baggett: 9
Joey Savatgy: 5
Dean Wilson: 4
Zach Osborne: 3
Chad Reed: 2
Justin Barcia: 2
Justin Bogle: 2
Jason Anderson: 1
Justin Brayton: 1
Aaron Plessinger: 1
Cole Seeley: 1

Next race: Lucas Oil Motocross Championship, May 18, Hangtown, Rancho Cordova, Calif.

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AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”