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Eli’s Coming: Tomac heads into the Motocross season with momentum

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Eli Tomac ended the 2019 Supercross season with more momentum than any other rider, but he came up one position short of the championship. The unique thing about motorcycle racing, however, is that there is absolutely no time to rest on one’s laurels.

And for Tomac, that is a huge blessing.

As the series heads to Rancho Cordova, California and Hangtown we got Tomac on the line to discuss the end of Supercross and start of the outdoor season.

Over the final four Supercross races, Tomac won three times and swept the podium. The champion Cooper Webb had one win and an average finish of 2.25 to Tomac’s 1.5.

If that record looks eerily similar to last year, it’s because it is. In 2018 Tomac ended the Supercross season with three wins and two runner-up finishes in the last five races.

“The cool thing about our two seasons is that we’re racing the same guys,” Eli Tomac said. “We’re lining up against each other every week, so if you carry the momentum – this sport is very mental.

“In the mental game, it’s always good when you win the last race (of the season) when you’re racing against this competition.”

Tomac knows that to be true because after winning the final round of the 2018 Supercross, he stormed into the outdoor season with five straight wins and immediately established himself as the rider to beat.

The field couldn’t beat him and Tomac scored his second consecutive Motocross championship. With an average finish of 2.58 over 12 rounds, it was his best year ever.

“I feel like I’m ready again and don’t see why I can’t get another championship, the way that we’ve done the last two seasons,” Tomac said. “I don’t feel like there is anything holding me back coming into the season, so I’m ready to go and as confident as ever.”

But for all the success he’s  had, Tomac feels there is a gaping hole in his record. He has never finished worse than third in either Supercross or Motocross, but he’s missing that all important SX championship.

“This season I would say was successful, not to the point of being totally satisfied because the execution would be the championship, but we did have  good run at the end.

“And for me, looking back at it, I had to start the season with an injury that set us back a little bit. But we kept pushing forward and the positive outlook is that we made progress throughout the season and really started getting the wins toward the end while carrying that momentum.”

Would winning a third straight Motocross championship fill that void?

“I wish I could say it would, but ‘no,’ ” Tomac said. “It would be amazing to do a third one in a row, there is always going to be that empty spot until I get that Supercross title.”

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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.