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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Graham Rahal’s “Weighty Issue”

INDYCAR Photo by Chris Owens
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MONTEREY, California – Graham Rahal admits that he can’t wait until the day he doesn’t have to worry about his weight. Being a 6-foot-2, big-boned individual can have its advantages, but not when it comes to fitting into an IndyCar.

That is why the son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and three-time CART IndyCar champion Bobby Rahal has begun a body shaping therapy known as “Sculpting” that uses laser to trim away body fat.

“Honestly, it is no secret, I’m not shy about this, that I’ve struggled with my weight,” the 201-pound Rahal told a group of reporters during INDYCAR’s Open Test at Laguna Seca on Thursday. “I can guarantee you that from a strength perspective and a stamina perspective, there’s very few guys out here that can keep up with me. I’m just not a super skinny build. It’s never been my thing.

“I’ve tried. We’ve kind of looked around, there was some mutual interest from them to look into trying this, see if it works. I’ll be honest. I was always very skeptical of the stuff. Where I’m at, I’ve done one treatment. I can’t even tell you today if it’s something that really works or not.”

That led Rahal to try out the sculpting process that was invented by a doctor who found it with swelling in kid’s cheeks. The “Sculpture” process uses a laser that kills the fatty cells.

“I’ve done one treatment,” Rahal said. “It takes a long time, I think. It’s going to take multiple I think to get there.”

Watch Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on NBC at 3 p.m.

A race driver needs to be thin, yet very strong to have the physical strength and stamina to compete at a high level in the race car. When it comes to the NTT IndyCar Series, it’s even more important because of the size of the cars and tight cockpit.

Additionally, the extra weight can impact the performance of the race car. The lighter the driver, the less weight inside of the car and that can determine. In INDYCAR, drivers are weighed and for the lighter weight drivers, lead weight is added to the car to meet a requirement.

But in Rahal’s case, the lead weight ballast has to be reduced and that sometimes throws off the center of gravity in the car.

“The facts are it’s not going to work if you don’t work out, too, and eat well,” Rahal said. “It doesn’t do anything. But earlier this year, man, I had given up drinking completely for three, four months. I was working out every day, twice a day on most occasions. I went to a nutritionist, doing everything. I literally was not losing an ounce. It was the most frustrating period of time for me.

“I am the biggest guy here. Is it ever going to be equal for me? No matter what these guys talk about with driver ballast, it’s a whole different thing, where my center of gravity is, so on…”

That is what led the 30-year-old driver from Ohio to study the “Sculpting” procedure. He realizes he is never going to have the metabolism of some of the thinner drivers, but he needs to maintain a weight that minimizes his disadvantage.

“It is a challenge,” he admitted. “Ricky Taylor and Helio Castroneves (on Penske Team Acura in IMSA) weigh 60 pounds less than me or something. There is no ballast there. That’s a big swing, a lot of weight to be carrying around.

“We have to try anything we can. If you’re going to be serious, try to find the performance advantage and the edge, you’ve got to look outside of the box.

It is something new for me. But the fight I guess against being an ultra-skinny guy…

“I fly home with most of these guys after races, I see most of these guys a lot of times, they’re sitting there eating In-N-Out Burger, whatever else. Literally I cannot do it. If I do it, it immediately reflects for me. These guys you see them the next weekend, they’re like this big.

“It’s like, (bleep), it’s not my build.”

Because of Rahal’s height and size, he chose to step away from the endurance races for Team Penske in IMSA at the end of last season. He was replaced at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring by fellow IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi.

Rahal complained that the steering wheel actually hit his legs inside of the Acura, making it difficult for him to drive on the challenging road courses. Since that time, Acura Team Penske has moved the steering column up by a few inches and it no longer impacts a driver the size of Rahal.

For the IMSA season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on October 12, Rahal will be back in the Team Penske Acura.

“Back in the (Team Penske) shop three weeks ago, I could actually turn the steering wheel, which I was shocked about,” Rahal said. “My head touched the roof, whatever, I’m used to that. Physically being able to steer, which I now should be able to do better.

“So I’m excited about it. It’s another great opportunity obviously with Penske. But more importantly for me is Acura, Honda. It’s a great thing to be back in.

“But that wasn’t a weight thing. It’s purely size. They just don’t build cars for guys my size. I used to talk to J.W. (Justin Wilson) about that. It’s the facts of life. Even the GT cars. You would think a GT car would be big. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a GT car, I was comfortable in either. They’re built for small guys. That’s the way it goes.”

Rahal is taller than his father, Bobby, who is also his IndyCar team owner along with David Letterman and Michael Lanigan.

“I blame my dad,” Rahal said. “I do. You can tell him I said that. I told him, ‘It’s a genetic thing. I got good genes in some ways.’

“I told my wife this the other day, I’m very excited for someday when my career ends just to have a ‘Dad Bod,’ be able to let go for a minute, see how things turn out, because this is getting a little bit exhausting.

“We’re going to stay committed through the winter. I try my hardest every year, but I never tried harder this year to be thin. I weigh about the same as last year, but it took so much effort to get there, I just have to think outside the box.”