Eli Tomac wins, extends points lead at Supercross’ return in Salt Lake

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Eli Tomac took the lead from Blake Baggett just past the halfway mark and cruised to victory in the 450 main event Sunday in the return of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series.

Tomac won by 3.771 seconds over Cooper Webb in the first of seven consecutive rounds to conclude the postponed 2020 season at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. The races are being held without fans because of restrictions from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“That was huge for us,” Webb told NBC after his sixth victory this season. “It’s so cool to get to go back racing at Salt Lake City and get back to riding and racing and doing what we know. Overall, awesome day there.

POINTS, RESULTS: Click here to see where everyone finished in Round 11

SILVER LININGSEli Tomac finds positives in 2020 interruption

“The track got really slick at the end. Lots of dust flying, lots of hunting for traction. Was a little slow early on. Got to improve on that next time. Especially if these guys up their games. Overall, really good day for points.”

With six races remaining in the season Tomac increased his lead to eight points over Ken Roczen, who held on for third despite nearly wiping out on the tuff blocks entering the final lap. The Honda rider saved it and nursed it home without losing any more points to Tomac.

“I grabbed a good start, got bumped around and lost some spots there,” Roczen said. “I was sliding out there, obviously, the track is really blowing out. I almos had a big, big (crash) getting crossed over there, jumped into tuff blocks. Pretty much saw myself down, but I saved it.

“So after that, I just cruised the last lap, get in third, regroup and come back.”

Both Tomac and Webb had a scare early in the race when Adam Cianciarulo went down on the second lap in front of them. Tomac went over Cianciarulo’s bike, and Webb appeared to make contact with the rider.

A few minutes later, Tomac passed Roczen for fourth and set his sights on Baggett, who took the holeshot. He led for the first eight minutes and then yielded the lead for good to Tomac.

“(Tomac) got around Blake and really laid some good laps,” said Cooper, who remained third in the standings, 32 points behind Tomac. “During the middle, I lost speed a little bit and there at the end, I really was riding hard and missed the rhythm and that cost me.

“It was crazy. I hope AC’s OK. He went down really hard and didn’t have anywhere to go. It’s good to be back racing. It’s awesome to be able to do what we love.”

In the 250 East main event, Shane McElrath beat points leader Chase Sexton by 2.949 seconds. McElreath trails Sexon by seven points in the championship standings.

“This is what we worked to do,” McElrath told NBC. “We had a big learning curve the first four rounds. Our results don’t show the progress we made. Now I’ve got to spend another 85 days since our last race on this bike and working with the team and making changes. It’s been a growing time mentally, physically and spiritually.”

After 22 laps, only four of 22 riders finished on the lead lap, and Sexton said lapped traffic was a factor.

“I don’t think I was off the pace,” Sexton told NBC. “I caught him. But lappers are so bad. They make a 40-second track, and we’re (lapping) fifth-place guys. It was tough, I felt I was better but couldn’t make it happen.”

FIVE THINGS TO WATCHBurning issues as Supercross restarts

NEXT: After Sunday’s opener, here are the details for the remaining six rounds:

  • Wednesday, June 3 (10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).