Eli Tomac wins Supercross Round 4, giving the series four winners in four races


For the fourth time in the history of Monster Energy Supercross and the second consecutive year, the first four rounds featured four different winners as Eli Tomac took the checkered flag home from Round 4 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.

Ken Roczen won Round 1 at Anaheim, Jason Anderson won Round 2 in Oakland and Chase Sexton won Round 3. Those riders would all play a factor Saturday night as well with Anderson finishing second and Sexton third. A crash for the second week involving Anderson and Roczen stranded the rider of the No. 94 outside the top 10.

Last week Tomac earned the red plate as the championship leader. He assumed the top spot by one point over Chase Sexton with consistency, but something was lacking and that was a win. Taking the lead from Anderson in the second half of the main, Tomac rode flawlessly and scored his first win in seven SX races.

“It’s a testament to what we have going on,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Kristen Beat. “The group of people behind me. This has felt so good.

“We’ve been inching forward each week – getting better and better – closer and closer, just been fine tuning. And we finally went out there and got the top spot.”

It was the first win for Yamaha in two years and snapped a seven-race losing streak for Tomac in the SX series. Tomac extended his lead by five points over Sexton with Anderson climbing two spots in the standings to rest eight behind the leader.

A contrite Anderson took the second spot on the podium.

“It’s never the way you want to ride, so it’s really on me,” Anderson said afterward about his contact with Roczen. “I’ve honestly been reading everything wrong on the track.

“At the end of the day, it’s a bummer because I really enjoy the battle and racing each other. I should have made a better move.”

Sexton kept himself in the battle for the championship with a third-place finish.

The main turning point of the feature came with the contact between Anderson and Roczen. As they battled for the lead, Roczen washed out in the sand section and as he straightened his bike, Anderson was trying to complete the pass. Roczen hit the ground and it took valuable seconds to get the sand out of his visor so he could continue.

Roczen remounted in 20th and climbed to 13th at the checkers, but two finishes outside of the top 10 this season has him buried deep in the standings. Roczen is currently 23 points out of first.

The contact also cost Anderson by throwing him off rhythm. Two laps later, he overjumped the end of a rhythm section and almost went over the top of a bowl turn, handing the lead to Tomac.

Dylan Ferrandis in fourth and Malcom Stewart rounded out the top five.

Cooper Webb started deep in the pack and climbed to eighth at the checkers, which was the third straight race in which he failed to stand on the podium.

Click here for complete 450 results

Christian Craig kept his hot streak alive by winning his third main in four rounds. This time around, it was a chess match between Craig and the only rider to beat him in 2022. Michael Mosiman grabbed the early lead with Craig stalking him through the first half of the race.

Vince Friese earned the holeshot, but Mosiman was close behind and completed the pass for the lead at the end of Lap 1. That was Mosiman’s best opportunity to put some distance between himself and Craig, as it took two more circuits around the track to get around Friese into second.

From there, Craig watched for any mistake by Mosiman. It finally came on Lap 8 of the main. A slight bobble in one of the rhythm sections by Mosiman stalled his momentum, allowing Craig to get around. Even then, Mosiman refused to give up ground.

“That was so much fun” Craig told NBC Sports’ Kristen Beat. “The battle with Michael, I’ve never done that before. It’s going to be a fun season.

“Obviously with me and Michael battling it out for what felt like a long time. I heard the crowd every time I got close. I made the pass stick and tried to ride away with it.”

Mosiman and Craig both won their heat race to set up the battle. For Mosiman, it has been a season of steady progression after finishing sixth in the Round 1 feature. Mosiman has been almost flawless in the heats, however, with three wins and a second in four rounds.

“It was such a good race with Christian. He’s riding so good and I learned a thing or two from him. I think he learned a thing or two from me. Clean racing; it was such an absolute blast and I’m going to enjoy it tonight. I’m looking forward to racing him all year.”

That left the final podium spot in question. Friese lost more than seven seconds to the leaders as Hunter Lawrence found his rhythm in the second half of the main. Friese had a decent lead over Lawrence until he bobbled in the whoops and got out of shape. A relatively minor crash put Friese on the ground and as he rose to get back to his bike, Lawrence swerved and easily avoided Friese, inheriting third in the process.

What seemed to be a casual crash almost turned tragic. As Friese stood and tried to retrieve this bike, he got nailed in the helmet by Jo Shimoda’s front wheel. Friese was helped off the track on rubbery legs like a boxer who took one too many punches. After the race, it was reported that he bit his tongue and will require stitches, but is otherwise okay.

Friese was on his way to a second career podium and his first since 2014 in East Rutherford.

Nate Thrasher finished fourth.

In his second race back since sustaining a concussion in the opening round, Jalek Swoll round out the top five.

Click here for complete 250 results


ROUND 1, Anaheim: Ken Roczen renews battle with Cooper Webb by winning the opener

ROUND 2, Oakland: Jason Anderson wins for first time since championship season

ROUND 3, San Diego: Chase Sexton (450s) and Michael Mosiman (250s) deliver first-time wins

A viewer’s guide to the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona: What to watch in the debut of GTP


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona could put an unbelievable twist on one of motorsports’ most famous adages: Money buys speed, how fast do you want to go?

Money is being burned at an ungodly rate for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener, but the correlation between cash and performance might be completely disjointed after 24 hours on the Daytona International Speedway road course.

The debut of a new premier hybrid prototype category has some of the world’s largest automakers flocking to the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP), where annual budgets have been estimated at $15 million per for the new Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh) cars.

With nine GTP cars starting the Rolex 24 at Daytona across Acura, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche, it’s safe to say the manufacturers have committed at least nine figures to launching what many are calling a new golden age for sports car racing.

But there’s no guarantee that any of the cars will finish the race. In fact, some are predicting it’s inevitable that all will spend at least some significant time in the Daytona garage repairing a high-tech car that never has raced for 24 consecutive hours. And in an era of pandemic-related supply-chain worries, there are major concerns that full repairs will be impossible even if necessary.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

It’s added another layer to the pressure involved with one of the most prestigious races in the world.

“From a manufacturer perspective, this is high-stakes motorsports,” Wayne Taylor Racing No. 10 Acura driver Ricky Taylor told NBC Sports. “This is as big as it gets. To debut at the Rolex 24 is such a high-stakes event and puts such a big test on everybody. The pressure all the manufacturers and teams are under is immense. Once we get through it and survive, there’ll be a sigh of relief. But until then, we all feel the eyes of the manufacturers on us.

“It’s going to be a pressure cooker for sure.”

Along with “unpredictability” and “reliability” being buzzwords the past two weeks at Daytona, there also has been some wistful predictions that this year’s Rolex 24 will be a throwback to a bygone era when endurance races truly were a survival of the fittest instead of the fastest.

After turning into a series of 24 one-hour sprint races for many years, no one is predicting that drivers will punish their equipment with so much at stake and so few safety nets.

“This race is going to be like races from the bloody ‘70s and ‘60s,” pole-sitter Tom Blomqvist of defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing told NBC Sports. “So it’ll be like when you watch that ‘Ford vs. Ferrari,’ and they’re coming into the pits repairing serious things and still going out and coming back. It’s going to be like that, mate.

“Yeah, we don’t know. We are not 100 percent confident that our car is as reliable as it needs to be. We definitely would have liked another year. All season before we came here to this race. But everyone’s in a similar boat. Some manufacturers are further down the line than others in terms of mileage. We’re still finding things popping up here and there that we didn’t see or suspect. It’s going to be a tough race without a doubt. I’m almost certain that we’ll be spending some time in the garage. Hopefully we get lucky, but let’s say we’re not going to be surprised if we are back in the garage at some point. We don’t want to jinx anything, but it’s prepare for the worst and hope for the best sort of thing.”

Teammate Simon Pagenaud said the race will be “the 24 Hours of the Mechanics. It’s going to be a team that’s able to repair the car the fastest way possible. It’s a little more like it used to be about reliability and making sure you take care of your equipment.

“We don’t have enough time yet to be able control fully the reliability, and we haven’t done enough laps to be able to say what’s going to break first or second. You’re going into it with a bit of jitters not knowing. It’s going to be definitely a very, very different race, I think.”

Here’s a viewer’s guide of some topics to keep an eye on during the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona:

Testing time: Though announced in January 2020, LMDh cars have been on track since only about a year ago. Porsche was the first to commit and has logged more than 30,000 kilometers of testing. Cadillac also has done significant real-world testing, but Acura admittedly has done little endurance testing, and BMW has tried to play catch up since being the last automaker to commit to the project.

Only Porsche and Cadillac can claim to have simulated the duration that cars will face this weekend. Porsche Penske Motorsport conducted a 36-hour test that managing director Jonathan Diuguid confirmed was “slightly higher” than 24 hours consecutively. Gary Nelson, team manager for Action Express, confirmed the No. 31 Cadillac ran for a full 24 hours at Sebring International Raceway last November. Acura also had attended the session but cut the test short after mechanical problems.

–Tortoise and hare: Every manufacturer has at least two cars, which creates opportunities for divergent strategies. When his team won the 2010 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Nelson said it was pushed hard by Chip Ganassi Racing’s prototypes in this tactic to wear down the competition.

“In old-school endurance racing, they’d call one a rabbit,” Nelson told NBC Sports. “He’d try to run the guts out of everybody to keep up with him, while the other (car) just followed around. There’s potential for something like that. I don’t think it’s in our playbook, but potentially there are people in these corporate offices, these manufacturers coming in, because they advanced through racing in the ‘80s and ‘90s and now they are managing these motorsports programs for these corporations. It’s very possible there’s someone from that era will say we’re going to have one rabbit, one tortoise. That’s very likely.

“We see that, I don’t think we take the bait. I think we stay with the plan.”

–LMP2 overall win? If mechanical problems do crop up for the GTP cars, the door will be opened for a victory by a car in the junior LMP2 prototype class. The LMP2 cars lap a few seconds slower and will need to make roughly nine extra pit stops than the GTP cars.

But according to NBC Sports analyst Calvin Fish, those factors would leave LMP2 cars about an hour behind GTP. That means if major mechanical problems befall all the GTP cars, an LMP2 likely would be leading. Diuguid said it would take over an hour to change out the major components on the hybrid system.

“If you have to change the gearbox, a suspension component or a hybrid component, your opportunity to win is probably over,” Diuguid said.

Nelson also predicted that teams will be more aggressive with making brake changes. Though his car’s brakes made it 24 hours last year, they generally require at least one swap. Nelson believes that will happen anywhere between the sixth and 18th hour – but probably on the early end in a concept similar to short pitting in NASCAR.

“We’re hoping our brakes make it all the way and haven’t seen anything that told us they won’t,” Nelson said. “A few years ago, we were changing brakes on anything between 6 and 18 hours. If everybody had to change the brakes in past years and you’re the last to do it, you have the least amount of time to gain it back.”

–Electric pit stops: Though it’s not IMSA-mandated, teams are using electric power only to enter and exit the pits for myriad reasons. The practice allows for a more efficient acceleration and deceleration that helps ensure hitting the speed limit. And it puts less strain on gearboxes that will be stressed over 24 hours.

–New tire strategies: With teams restricted to about a dozen fewer sets of tires, teams will be double-stinting for fuel only without opting for fresh rubber.

Nelson said the Action Express Whelen Engineering team was planning to make its tire changes coincide with its driver changes (unlike the normal practice of changing tires on most pit stops).

–Three’s the magic number: More than half the GTP teams are employing a trio of drivers instead of the maximum four that has been popular with many teams in past years. Though Colton Herta is listed as the fourth driver on BMW’s two cars, the IndyCar star might only drive one.

The shift comes as Penske and Porsche plan to field full-time entries in the World Endurance Championship, which allows only three drivers per car.

–GTD battles: Mercedes dominated qualifying, but there have been charges of sandbagging by the Ferrari and Porsche GT favorites.

That isn’t the case with defending GTD Pro class winner Pfaff Motorsports, whose No. 9 Porsche struggled to make laps in practice.

Women in racing: Led by the all-female Iron Dames lineup, there will be several opportunities for women to reach the podium or take a class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Sports car ace Katherine Legge is teamed with Sheena Monk on the No. 66 for Gradient Racing.