Supercross: Cooper Webb wins Round 12; Eli Tomac second


Defending series champion Cooper Webb kept his title defense hopes alive in the first Monster Energy AMA Supercross event held on a Wednesday night.

Webb passed Zach Osborne with 5 minutes remaining in the 450 main event and led the final seven laps to win Round 12 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

With five races remaining, Webb remains ranked third but cut the gap to 29 points behind championship leader Eli Tomac, who took second from Osborne (third) late in the race.

RESULTS, POINTS: Where everyone finished in Round 12

It was the ninth career victory and second of the season for Webb, as well as the KTM rider’s first since a hard crash on the concrete in Arlington, Texas in February.

“We’ll see at the end of the year,” Webb told NBCSN when asked if he was back in the title fight. “But it was a great night overall. To get second off the start. Zach was really riding well at the beginning. I was just trying to put in some good laps. I could see Eli coming to catch us and knew I needed to get around him and try to break away.

“It was a tough race. Track conditions were tricky, you had to be patient. The whoops were tough. I just committed to my line, and it played out pretty well.  Great night to get a win. These are not easily gained, especially with the top guys up here tonight. So I want to just soak it in, got five more (races this year).”

The runner-up finish allowed Tomac, who won Round 11, to extend his lead to 13 points over Ken Roczen, who finished fifth.

“I was fighting all I could there,” Tomac told NBCSN. “Tonight it was who was the man on the inside. Cooper got us there (at the start). I got a little bit shuffled back the first lap and then started moving forward.

“Other than that, Zach and Cooper had the pace tonight. So I did everything I could. Got close with two (laps) to go, made one mistake at end of rhythm section, and that was it. I lost all my hope (of a win) there. Good night. Kind of a wash on points for us. Keep trucking along.”

Osborne nabbed his second career podium after taking the holeshot and leading the first 20 laps.

“I’m happy but also a little disappointed to lead that long and let it get away there at the end,” he said. “Nice night here in Salt Lake. Looking forward to being here the next couple of weeks. It’s been an amazing trip so far.”

In the 250 East main event, Shane McElrath scored his second consecutive victory since Supercross’ return and moved into a tie with Chase Sexton for the points lead with five races remaining.

After finishing ahead of Colt Nichols and Jeremy Martin, McElrath celebrated by waving to the nonexistent crowd at Rice-Eccles Stadium (where the grandstands will remain empty over the final seven rounds of 2020).

“We’ve got to make the fans feel like they’re here,” McElrath, who led 14 of 20 laps, told NBCSN. “We had a tough day all around. This track is tough but we did a lot of praying and focusing, and it was nice to come out like that.”

Sexton finished fourth, rebounding after falling on the first lap and dropping to 17th.

“I just washed the front,” he told NBCSN after sliding into a tie with McElrath at 140 points. “Yeah, that was about it. Came from pretty much dead last. We’re going to have to be better and get ready for Sunday.”

FIVE THINGS TO WATCHBurning issues as Supercross restarts

NEXT: Here are the details for the remaining five rounds:

  • 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).

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.

GARAGE 56 SPECS: Full comparison of NASCAR Cup car to Le Mans car

BUTTON’S BIG MOVE: Hendrick drone tour was NASCAR entryway for F1 champion

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.”