Eli Tomac takes first Yamaha ride; eyes more Supercross and Motocross titles

Tomac Yamaha Supercross Motocross

Eli Tomac climbed onto his new Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha this week and took his first ride as he sets his sight on the 2022 Supercross and Motocross seasons The Supercross seasons kicks off Saturday in just three months, January 8 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

After finishing third or better in points in both Supercross and Motocross every year since 2017 on a Kawasaki, the change could not have been easy to make, especially since he was still winning championships. His last SX title came in 2020. One year earlier, he was victorious in MX.

But then he saw what Dylan Ferrandis accomplished in the 2021 and the decision to join him as a teammate was not so hard.

“The new change definitely makes it easier to get up in the morning and to get to work,” Tomac said at MonsterEnergy.com. “It’s something that I’ve been looking forward to. I think they can give me, as a racer, a really competitive package in both supercross and motocross. Dylan Ferrandis had really good success in motocross this year, so I look at that and it gives me confidence for what we have coming in the future.”

Notably, Tomac won his second Motocross race of 2021 on the same weekend when Ferrandis clinched the title.

Motocross and supercross are both grueling disciplines. It is not a matter of if a rider is going to land hard and break some bones, but rather when and how often. It’s that adrenaline that gets them back on the seat after crashing.

But after seven seasons, the perspective changes slightly.

“You get older and you kind of process things differently,” Tomac said. “When I am on the starting line it’s kind of more of a calm feeling now. You’re ready to go and you’re chasing the checkered flag, but it’s a different calm and I just think that’s age.

“As the years go by, you kind of figure out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you, so I think that is part of the calming too. I don’t know if there is a direct line that you can refer to in our sport, but yeah, I’m getting a little bit older and I feel like I can totally be competitive until I’m 30 in this sport. I turn 28 in November.”

Are there more Supercross and Motocross championships on a Yamaha in his future? Tomac certainly believes there is.

“(Winning the championship) is absolutely doable,” Tomac said. “I wouldn’t have signed a new contract if I didn’t think I could do it and we can do it as a team. That’s the only thing we’re shooting for and that’s winning.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)