Eli Tomac wins RedBud, Marvin Musquin steals the show

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross

Eli Tomac scored his third overall victory at RedBud, but Marvin Musquin scored an important moral victory in Buchanan, Mich. after starting Moto 1 dead last.

Tomac scored the Moto 1 victory – reversing a recent trend that has burdened him with poor starts. He grabbed the lead from Cooper Webb at the halfway point of Moto 1 and that gave him maximum points for the race. Tomac’s poor start this week came in Moto 2, with him mired outside the top five for much of the race.

In patented Tomac form, he charged in the final half of Moto 2 to close the gap on Jason Anderson and then Ken Roczen to finish second and take the overall with a 1-2.

Even so, Tomac thought there was more in tank.

“The track just got beat up there (in the second Moto),” he told NBC after the race. “I wasn’t able to do all my sweet outside railer-berms that time. I was following guys a little bit deeper in the pack.

“Overall, it was just a little rougher track and I was behind the fast guys. That was a lot of work.”

But it was Musquin that put on the best show of the afternoon. Pinned beneath his bike on the first lap, it took two corner workers to lift the KTM off his prone body. He rejoined the fray dead last in 40th but managed to slice his way though the field to seventh at the end.

In Moto 2, Musquin took the lead at the 19-minute mark and commanded the rest of the race. He banked 39 points total – and in doing so lost eight to the leader – but it could have been so much worse had he not been able to point in the first race. With a 7-1, he finished third overall.

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Jason Anderson had the most consistent run of the day. Finishing 2-4, he was second overall to score his third overall podium and continue a sweep of the top five this year.

Cooper Webb earned the holeshot in Moto 1, but lost the lead early to Justin Bogle. Webb held onto third in that race and finished fifth in Moto 2 for fourth overall.

Ken Roczen can also claim a moral victory. Health issues are causing him to fade late in races continued in both Motos, but were less severe this week than previously. Roczen slipped to sixth in the first race, but he was solidly in second in Moto 2 until the very end when he let Tomac get past and steal two precious points. With a 6-3, he rounded out the top five in the overall.

Sitting fourth in the points entering RedBud – and on the heels of his Moto 2 win last week – Zach Osborne was unable to ride after suffering a practice crash on Thursday that injured his shoulder. Not expected to require surgery, the injury was sufficient to keep Osborne from being able to grip the handlebar.

Osborne could be back in action as early as two weeks from now in Millville.

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

Dylan Ferrandis dominated RedBud with a sweep of Victory Lane in both Motos, but fireworks from the first Moto reverberated through the second and created some interesting storylines.

The first half of Ferrandis’ season was dominated with slow starts, but he has reversed that trend in recent weeks. The first four weeks produced only one podium finish and three fourth-place results. That kept the leader Adam Cianciarulo from getting too far ahead. Back to back second-place finishes at WW Ranch and Southwick allowed Ferrandis to close to third in the points entering this weekend.

But Ferrandis wanted the overall win and with a solid afternoon, he accomplished that goal.

“Getting ready for the outdoor after a long Supercross season is tough, so it took me time, but finally we are where we want to be,” Ferrrandis told NBC Sports Gold after the race.

The strong run a RedBud elevated Ferrandis to second in the standings, 25 points behind Cianciarulo.

Off-track excursions, penalties and blown engines ultimately made the difference for the overall for the remainder of the leaders.

Finishing second overall, Cianciarulo lost points after getting penalized in Moto 1. He crossed under the checkers third, but was docked two positions for accelerating after he ran off course in Moto 1.

Cianciarulo was off course twice. The most dramatic of happened on Lap 1 when Cianciarulo and Alex Martin got too close over a jump. Cianciarulo pulled to the left and left the track, but did not slow enough for the officials’ taste.  He recovered to finish second in Moto 2 and finished second overall with a 5-2.

Justin Cooper rounded out the podium with a 3-6.

RJ Hampshire finished fourth with a 2-8.

Hampshire’s second-place finish in Moto 1 was helped along by a problem for Alex Martin. Circling in second in the closing laps with a comfortable margin, he lost a hose on his bike that caused a catastrophic eninge failure. Martin started the final lap in second, but the bike gave up the ghose and he finished 19th. Rebounding to third in Moto 2, he was 11th overall.

Joey Crown’s debut started in fourth on Lap 1 of Moto 1. He was still in the top 10 at the halfway mark – and just after that, he had an apparent issue with his foot peg that caused him to DNF. He finished 17th in Moto 2.

Dealing with lingering effects from fatigue mid-race at WW Ranch and Southwick, Chase Sexton elected to sit out RedBud. In an Instagram post earlier this week, Sexton said he was “not going to race until I’m ready to win.”

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

Moto Wins

[6] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch II, RedBud I)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, The Wick I, RedBud II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (The Wick II)

[5] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II, The Wick I)
[4] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, The Wick II, RedBud I & II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[1] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

Next race: Spring Creek, Millville, Minn., July 20

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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With throaty roar, NASCAR Next Gen Camaro is taking Le Mans by storm on global stage

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LE MANS, France — The V8 engine of the NASCAR Chevrolet Camaro has a distinct growl that cannot go unnoticed even among the most elite sports cars in the world at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

When the Hendrick Motorsports crew fired up the car inside Garage 56, NASCAR chairman Jim France broke into a huge grin and gave a thumbs up.

“The only guy who didn’t cover his ears,” laughed seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

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France has been waiting since 1962 – the year his father, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., brought him to his first 24 Hours of Le Mans – to hear the roar of a stock car at the most prestigious endurance race in the world.

A path finally opened when NASCAR developed its Next Gen car, which debuted last year. France worked out a deal to enter a car in a specialized “Innovative Car” class designed to showcase technology and development. The effort would be part of NASCAR’s 75th celebration and it comes as Le Mans marks its 100th.

Once he had the approval, France persuaded Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – NASCAR’s winningest team, manufacturer and tire supplier – to build a car capable of running the twice-around-the-clock race.

The race doesn’t start until Saturday, but NASCAR’s arrival has already been wildly embraced and France could not be more thrilled.

“Dad’s vision, to be able to follow it, it took awhile to follow it up, and my goal was to outdo what he accomplished,” France told The Associated Press. “I just hope we don’t fall on our ass.”

The car is in a class of its own and not racing anyone else in the 62-car field. But the lineup of 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button and Johnson has been fast enough; Rockenfeller put down a qualifying lap that was faster than every car in the GTE AM class by a full three seconds.

The Hendrick Motorsports crew won its class in the pit stop competition and finished fifth overall as the only team using a manual jack against teams exclusively using air jacks. Rick Hendrick said he could not be prouder of the showing his organization has made even before race day.

“When we said we’re gonna do it, I said, ‘Look, we can’t do this half-assed. I want to be as sharp as anybody out there,” Hendrick told AP. “I don’t want to be any less than any other team here. And just to see the reaction from the crowd, people are so excited about this car. My granddaughter has been sending me all these TikTok things that fans are making about NASCAR being at Le Mans.”

This isn’t NASCAR’s first attempt to run Le Mans. The late France Sr. brokered a deal in 1976, as America celebrated its bicentennial, to bring two cars to compete in the Grand International class and NASCAR selected the teams. Herschel McGriff and his son, Doug, drove a Wedge-powered, Olympia Beer-sponsored Dodge Charger, and Junie Donlavey piloted a Ford Torino shared by Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson.

Neither car came close to finishing the race. McGriff, now 95 and inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in January, is in Le Mans as France’s guest, clad head-to-toe in the noticeable Garage 56 uniforms.

“I threw a lot of hints that I would like to come. And I’ve been treated as royalty,” McGriff said. “This is unbelievable to me. I recognize nothing but I’m anxious to see everything. I’ve been watching and seeing pictures and I can certainly see the fans love their NASCAR.”

The goal is to finish the full race Sunday and, just maybe, beat cars from other classes. Should they pull off the feat, the driver trio wants its own podium celebration.

“I think people will talk about this car for a long, long time,” said Rockenfeller, who along with sports car driver Jordan Taylor did much of the development alongside crew chief Chad Knaus and Greg Ives, a former crew chief who stepped into a projects role at Hendrick this year.

“When we started with the Cup car, we felt already there was so much potential,” Rockenfeller said. “And then we tweaked it. And we go faster, and faster, at Le Mans on the SIM. But you never know until you hit the real track, and to be actually faster than the SIM. Everybody in the paddock, all the drivers, they come up and they are, ‘Wow, this is so cool,’ and they were impressed by the pit stops. We’ve overachieved, almost, and now of course the goal is to run for 24 hours.”

The car completed a full 24-hour test at Sebring, Florida, earlier this year, Knaus said, and is capable of finishing the race. Button believes NASCAR will leave a lasting impression no matter what happens.

“If you haven’t seen this car live yet, it’s an absolute beast,” Button said. “When you see and hear it go by, it just puts a massive smile on your face.”

For Hendrick, the effort is the first in his newfound embrace of racing outside NASCAR, the stock car series founded long ago in the American South. Aside from the Le Mans project, he will own the Indy car that Kyle Larson drives for Arrow McLaren in next year’s Indianapolis 500 and it will be sponsored by his automotive company.

“If you’d have told me I’d be racing at Le Mans and Indianapolis within the same year, I’d never have believed you,” Hendrick told AP. “But we’re doing both and we’re going to do it right.”

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Fans gather around the NASCAR Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that is the Garage 56 entry for the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

General Motors is celebrating the achievement with a 2024 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Garage 56 Edition and only 56 will be available to collectors later this year.

“Even though Chevrolet has been racing since its inception in 1911, we’ve never done anything quite like Garage 56,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “A NASCAR stock car running at Le Mans is something fans doubted they would see again.”

The race hasn’t even started yet, but Hendrick has enjoyed it so much that he doesn’t want the project to end.

“It’s like a shame to go through all this and do all this, and then Sunday it’s done,” Hendrick said. “It’s just really special to be here.”