Slow starts hardly have hindered Supercross points leader Eli Tomac

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Eli Tomac laughed with the quiet confidence of someone who knew the question was legitimate but hardly was worried about the answer.

After two consecutive poor starts in main events at Rice-Eccles Stadium, how could he improve out of the gate in Sunday’s season finale (3-4 p.m. NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. NBC).

“At this point, I might as well let everyone go and then roll,” Tomac joked. “I don’t know. Just try to be a little bit better. I’m trying to protect that inside, but that hasn’t been working the past two rounds. Just got to be a little bit better.”

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With a 24-point lead on Cooper Webb entering Sunday’s Round 17, Tomac actually could be much worse and still win his first 450 championship.

But the past two rounds have shown the likelihood is that even if he starts poorly again, it’ll be little matter. His No. 3 Kawasaki sliced through traffic quickly for a third place in Round 15 a week ago.

Eli Tomac has finished on the podium in seven consecutive races (Feld Entertainment, Inc.).

He was even better Wednesday in Round 16. Tomac fell to dead last into the first corner but gained 10 spots in the first lap and rallied to finish second, briefly seeming to be a threat to end Webb’s Wednesday’s winning streak.

“The first turn was just a joke,” Tomac said Wednesday after the race. “I was probably the last guy on the inside. I went defensive and that did not work in that first turn. Just really had to pick my way through the pack. Made a good move around second or third turn and then went to work. I felt I could make easier passes compared to the previous track.”

It seems the only weakness in Tomac’s game, and he acknowledges the starts can be “nerve-wracking,” particularly with Webb riding nearly as well on a streak of eight podiums.

“When you’re buried, so many things can happen out of your own power,” Tomac said. “That’s what’s sketchy about starting in the back. It’s a situation I don’t want to put myself in, but I was able to make passes quicker compared to (Round 15).”

Webb also has shown a propensity for getting faster as the race progresses, turning his fastest lap on Lap 25 of 29 with Tomac in pursuit Wednesday.

But the defending series champion wasn’t overly optimistic about beating Tomac in the finale.

Eli Tomac catches air at Rice-Eccles Stadium (Feld Entertainment, Inc.).

“For sure he’s got a nice points lead but wanted to make it to (the finale) and just see if there’s any hope,” said Webb, who is six points ahead of Ken Roczen. “To at least take it to Sunday was the motivation. And it’s really tight with me and Kenny on second in the series. There’s always motivation; never a lack for me.”

Nor is there for Tomac, who is on the cusp of a title that has eluded him in season that might have been better than this one. He had nine victories in 2017 and finished second in points, eight victories in 2018 and finished third and six victories last year and finished second.

In 2020, he has seven victories but also 15 consecutive top fives. He hasn’t finished outside the top four since a seventh in the season opener.

“Just consistency in general,” Tomac said about his title bid. “I’ve always had these weird two races, or three races. That’s really hit. I’m just feeling more level-headed. There’s less up and down emotions this year. Just on that same level the whole time.

“This year I’m ready from the get-go. That’s been big for me is I know I can make it the distance.”

MotoGP champion Marc Marquez has second surgery on fractured arm

MotoGP Marc Marquez second surgery
JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images
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Defending MotoGP series champion Marc Marquez underwent a second surgery Monday after a titanium plate inserted in his fractured right arm sustained damage. The Repsol Honda Team said in a statement that it’ll be two days before the recovery period is determined.

Marquez was injured during a crash in the July 19 season opener. He underwent an initial surgery July 21 in Barcelona, and doctors said there was no nerve damage.

The eight-time champion was cleared to race in the season’s second event Jerez. But Marquez decided to skip the July 26 race after experiencing discomfort while riding the No. 93 bike in a July 25 practice.

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He had planned to race in Sunday’s grand prix at the Automotodrom Brno in the Czech Republic in hopes of returning to defend his title. His status for Sunday apparently will be unclear until at least Wednesday.

In a statement Monday, the team said the titanium plate in Marquez’s right arm successfully was replaced after stress accumulation. Marquez will stay in the hospital for two days recovering.

Dr Xavier Mir, who performed the surgery at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus, said in the release that “Marc Marquez underwent surgery 13 days ago and today he returned to the operating room. The first operation was successful, what was not expected was that the plate was insufficient. An accumulation of stress in the operated area has caused the plate to suffer some damage, so today the titanium plate has been removed and replaced by a new fixation.

“The rider has not felt pain during this period. He has always followed the medical advice given and the feeling from his body. Unfortunately, an overstress has caused this issue. Now we have to wait 48 hours to understand the recovery time.”