Eli Tomac outfoxes field at Pala

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Eli Tomac is the second-half hero. After getting poor starts in each Moto at Fox Raceway in Pala, Calif., Tomac took the lead in the second half to win both.

Tomac’s perfect finish that earned him 50 points did not start out that way.

Moto 1 looked like a carbon copy of Hangtown. Ken Roczen grabbed the lead early while Eli Tomac faded badly.

But in these 30-minute Motos, there is plenty of time for fortunes to reverse and just as it did last week in Hangtown, Tomac’s conditioning took over and he surged when it mattered.

“That Moto 2 was really comfy,” Tomac told NBCSN after the race. ” I was in cleaner air at the end there; much better start. Marvin (Musquin) was laying down a really good pace.

“We were just going that first half. And then after the half, I put on a little bit of a charge and kept putting pressure on him, found a good outside line after this double, then I went outside of him and got some good momentum. I was just really happy with my ride. Once I got out front, I just kept riding loose.”

Tomac took the points lead with his perfect day and now holds a four-point advantage over Roczen.

At one point in Moto 1, Tomac was as far back as sixth on the track and more than 10 seconds behind. In the second half of that race he began his march through the field. With time about to expire from the clock Tomac might still have fallen back to fourth, but Roczen became embroiled in a battle with Musquin that cost them both.

“About halfway (through Moto 1) I started feeling a lot better,” Tomac told NBC Sports Gold. “I made a couple of passes and really just kept trucking along. I felt like I held a consistent pace the whole time.”

Musquin finished second overall with a 3-2 and the tiebreaker that is broken by the second Moto.

“I was leading,” Musquin said. “I was in a great position, then I heard someone coming from behind. I tried to hang onto the lead, but there was nothing I could do. I was good enough for second today.”

Musquin failed to make up any ground on Roczen in the season standings, however, as both riders left the race with 42 points.

Roczen finished 2-3 to grab the final spot on the podium in both Moto 2 and the overall.

Coming off last week’s victory, Roczen was concentrating on a clean, uneventful race.

Zach Osborne finished 5-4 to grab the fourth position overall with Jason Anderson continuing his impressive comeback with a 4-5.

The Supercross champion Cooper Webb (6-6) finished sixth overall and now sits sixth in the standings.

Blake Baggett got the holeshot in Moto 1, but it would go bad quickly. Roczen took the lead from him before the lap was over. With five minutes off the clock it turned worse; Baggett broke a front wheel that forced to the mechanic’s area and cost him a lap. He passed seven bikes when he got back on track, but finished well outside the points in 33rd. He would rebound to finish 14th in Moto 2.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

Adam Cianciarulo is riding like a man possessed. After crashing out of the Supercross finale and losing the championship, he knows the only thing he can do now is to win the Motocross championship – and that is where his mental energy is focused.

Cianciarulo won Moto 2 at Pala to took the overall win with a 3-1 to earn his second consecutive victory in MX.

Hunter Lawrence did not make it easy on Cianciarulo. After crashing in Moto 1 and failing to earn any points, he desperately wanted to win the second Moto and re-establish himself. He had the faster times throughout the middle of the race and with about five minutes on the clock slipped around Cianciarulo.

Cianciarulo managed to get back around Lawrence when he laid the bike down a couple of laps later, but Cianciarulo still lavished praise on the second-place finisher in the Moto.

“I can’t say enough good things about Hunter Lawrence,” Cianciarulo told NBCSN after the race. “He rode so good. And when he crashed, I was just trying to be smart. He had a couple of spots where he was fast and I thought he was further back than he was. Then I heard him behind me the last couple of laps and I thought ‘Ah Man, I need to empty the tanks’ “.

Justin Cooper won the first Moto. It was the second consecutive race in which he won Moto 1, but Cooper would have to settle for fourth in the second, and the 1-4 caused him to come up just a little short of the overall win. Cooper settled for second.

With a 7-3, Dylan Ferrandis finished third overall.

RJ Hampshire finished second in Moto 1 in a very spirited battle for second through fourth, but with seven minutes remaining on the clock in Moto 2 he was forced to retire while battling for fifth.

With a 5-5, Chase Sexton finished fourth overall.

Colt Nichols rounded out the top five with a 4-7.

The ride of Moto 1 belonged to Cianciarulo, however. He hit the afterburner with the clock winding down. Riding his Kawasaki like a bucking bronc, he swapped spots with Hampshire and then chased down Colt Nichols. At the line, Cianciarulo nabbed the spot.

“It was crazy,” Cianciarulo said after the Moto on NBC Sports Gold. “I took a big gamble going on the outside. Basically the thought behind that was they’d ripped the start so deep, but on the outside it was a little drier.”

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Points Leaders

450MX
Eli Tomac (93 points) (1 win)
Ken Roczen (89) (1 win)
Marvin Musquin (74)
Jason Anderson (72)
Zach Osborne (70)

250MX
Adam Cianciarulo (92 points) (2 wins)
Justin Cooper (86)
Dylan Ferrandis (70)
Colt Nichols (68)
Chase Sexton (65)

Overall Top 5s

450MX
Ken Roczen: 2
Eli Tomac: 2
Jason Anderson: 2
Zack Osborne: 2
Cooper Webb: 1
Marvin Musquin: 1

250MX
Adam Cianciarulo: 2
Justin Cooper: 2
Colt Nichols: 2
Dylan Ferrandis: 2
Chase Sexton: 2

Moto Wins

450MX
[3] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I, Pala II)
[1] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I)

250MX
[2] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I)
[2] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II)

Next race: Thunder Valley Motocross Park, Lakewood, Co. June 1

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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New Chip Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong will team with boyhood idol Scott Dixon

Marcus Armstrong Scott Dixon
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula Motorsport Limited via Getty Images
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Marcus Armstrong was a Scott Dixon fan his entire life, and when he was 8, the aspiring young racer asked his fellow New Zealander to autograph a helmet visor that he hung on his bedroom wall.

Next year, Armstrong will be Dixon’s teammate.

Armstrong was named Friday as the fourth IndyCar driver in the Chip Ganassi Racing lineup and will pilot the No. 11 next season on road and street courses.

A driver for the five oval races on the 17-race schedule will be named later.

The No. 11 is essentially the No. 48 that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson drove the last two seasons, with Chip Ganassi making the change to run four cars numbered in sequential order. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson drives the No. 8, six-time champion Dixon drives the No. 9, and 2020 IndyCar champion Alex Palou drives the No. 10.

So just who is the second Kiwi in the Ganassi lineup?

A 22-year-old who spent the past three seasons in Formula One feeder series F2, a Ferrari development driver in 2021, and former roommate of Callum Illot and former teammate of Christian Lundgaard – both of whom just completed their rookie IndyCar seasons.

“I’ve always been attracted to the IndyCar championship because it’s one of those championships that’s been really well televised in New Zealand since I was young, mainly because of Scott and his success,” Armstrong told The Associated Press. “As time progressed, as I got closer to F1 and single-seaters, the attraction to IndyCar grew just because of how competitive the championship is – I like to challenge myself and the level of competition in IndyCar is remarkably high.”

Armstrong, from Christchurch, New Zealand, was set to travel from his current home in London to Indianapolis this weekend to meet his new team. He won’t need an introduction to Dixon, the 42-year-old considered the best IndyCar driver of his generation and Armstrong’s unequivocal childhood hero.

Last season, Dixon earned his 53rd career victory to pass Mario Andretti for second on the all-time list. Dixon has driven for Ganassi in all but 23 of his 345 career starts.

“For a long time I’ve been a Scott Dixon fan. I don’t want to make him cringe with our age difference,” Armstrong told the AP.

Despite the two-decade age difference, Armstrong never considered someday racing with Dixon a fantasy.

He convinced his father after winning five national karting championships to allow him to leave New Zealand for Italy at age 14, where he moved by himself to pursue a racing career. Armstrong said as soon as he’d received parental permission, he’d never look back.

Armstrong was in Formula 4 two years after his move to Italy and won that title in his first season. He won four races and four poles in F3 in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, then collected four wins and eight podiums in three seasons of F2.

“Maybe it’s a strength, or maybe it’s a weakness, but I always thought I was capable of doing great in the sport,” Armstrong told the AP. “I think you probably have to succeed in the sport, you need to believe in yourself. I always pictured myself being in IndyCar.

“As Scott’s teammate? I can’t specifically say I saw that. It’s an extraordinary chain of events.”

Armstrong becomes just the latest driver to leave Europe, where F1 is the pinnacle but has only 20 seats each year. Alexander Rossi began the trend in 2016 when the American left F1 and won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. He’s been followed by Ericsson, last season’s Indy 500 winner, Romain Grosjean, Illot, Lundgaard, and on Thursday three-time W Series champion and Williams F1 reserve driver Jamie Chadwick was announced as driver for Andretti Autosport in IndyCar’s second-tier development series.

Armstrong said he could have remained in F2 for a fourth season, but he’d been watching IndyCar for so long, and after conversations with Illot and Lundgaard, he decided to make the move to what he believes is the most balanced racing series in the world. He tested for Dale Coyne Racing at Sebring in October.

He doesn’t know if European racing is done for good, just that he wants to be in IndyCar right now.

“I don’t want to think too far into the future, I’m just grateful for this opportunity that is standing right in front of me,” Armstrong said. “I want to perform as well as I can in the near future and just consolidate myself in the fantastic chance that is IndyCar and just do my best.

“I’m not looking at F1 as a landing spot – I am looking at IndyCar, and that’s exactly why I am here.”