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Eli Tomac closes the gap on Ken Roczen entering San Diego

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Eli Tomac closed the gap to three points on Ken Roczen last week with his Monster Energy Supercross win at RingCentral Coliseum. They will continue their battle down the coast in San Diego in PETCO Park Saturday night (on NBCSN at 10 p.m. ET). Last year’s San Diego race was a muddy, sloppy affair. This year it’s forecast to be contested under clear skies.

Tomac had one of those performances at Oakland that makes one wonder how he does not yet have a Supercross championship. He’s come close with a second last year and in 2015 and ’17.

Meanwhile, Roczen is also searching for his first Supercross championship after finishing second in 2016.

Injuries kept him from challenging in 2017-18, and a bout with fatigue plagued him last year, so the stinger he sustained to his foot in Oakland played heavily on his mind. He medically is cleared for San Diego. The potential injury came in the final turn last week when Cooper Webb knocked him off balance in a battle for second.

With his Oakland win, Tomac took sole possession of seventh on the all-time wins list. It also moved him into 10th on the all-time list of podium finishes.

The winner of San Diego has won the title 42 percent of the time, including three of the last five years.

For now, it is shaping up to be a two-man show with Tomac three points behind Roczen. Sitting 12 points out of second and 15 from first, Justin Barcia needs to gain some momentum. Barcia narrowly missed the top five last week with his sixth-place finish.

He chased Jason Anderson in the closing laps. But Anderson kept his perfect 2020 top-five streak alive.

Cooper Webb has his work cut out for him. San Diego has not been good to him with an average finish of 13th. He has 18 points to make up on Roczen if he wants the red plate again. Last year, he finished eighth in this race.

Webb won San Diego in 2015 and 2016, however, making him one of five riders with two victories there. Tomac also has two (2011 and 2013). No one has more.

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Justin Cooper earned his 10th career podium last week, but lost the red plate to teammate Dylan Ferrandis.

Wedged between two extremely aggressive riders in the points, he told NBC this week that the key to his success is consistency. Cooper is only two points behind Ferrandis and eight ahead of Austin Forkner.

Cooper’s 10 podium finishes have come in just 15 starts. Four of them have come in the five races of 2020. Better yet, Cooper has yet to finish outside of the top 10.

Luke Clout has been closing in on a strong run all year with a seventh at St. Louis and a sixth in A2. He finally earned his first career top five last week in Oakland.

Christian Craig remains out with a hand injury sustained at San Diego.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold
Race: 10 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSN

Last Week:

Eli Tomac beat Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Dylan Ferrandis beat Austin Forkner and Justin Cooper in the 250 class.

Last San Diego race (February, 2019):

Eli Tomac beat Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Adam Cianciarulo beat Garrett Marchbanks and Jimmy Decotis in the 250 class.

Points Leaders

450s:
Ken Roczen (113)
Eli Tomac (110)
Justin Barcia (98)
Jason Anderson (96)
Cooper Webb (95)

250 West:
Dylan Ferrandis (109)
Justin Cooper (107)
Austin Forkner (99)
Brandon Hartranft (92)
Alex Martin (85)

Wins

450

(2) Ken Roczen (St. Louis and Glendale)
(2) Eli Tomac (Anaheim 2 and Oakland)
(1) Justin Barcia (Anaheim 1)

250 West

(2) Austin Forkner (St. Louis and Glendale)
(2) Dylan Ferrandis (Anaheim 2 and Oakland)
(1) Justin Cooper (Anaheim 1)

Top-5s

450

(5) Jason Anderson
(4) Eli Tomac
(4) Cooper Webb
(4) Ken Roczen
(3) Justin Barcia
(2) Zach Osborne
(2) Adam Cianciarulo
(1) Blake Baggett

250 West

(4) Dylan Ferrandis
(4) Austin Forkner
(4) Justin Cooper
(3) Michael Mosiman
(3) Brandon Hartranft
(3) Alex Martin
(1) Christian Craig
(1) Jett Lawrence
(1) Jacob Hayes
(1) Luke Clout

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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.