Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross

Eli Tomac wins RedBud, Marvin Musquin steals the show

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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.

NBC Sports Gold

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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Graham Rahal’s ‘Weighty Issue’

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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 lasers 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.

“It takes a long time, I think,” Rahal said. “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. In INDYCAR, drivers are weighed and for the lighter 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.”

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, (crap), 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 Oct. 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.”