Eli Tomac sets Daytona Supercross record with dramatic late-race pass in Round 9

0 Comments

With less than one minute remaining on the clock, Eli Tomac took advantage of the first bobble of the night by Cooper Webb in heavy traffic to sweep past the 2021 champion and win a record-setting sixth Daytona Monster Energy Supercross race in Round 9 of the 2022 season. With the win, Tomac broke a tie for the most Daytona wins that was long held by Ricky Carmichael.

Webb grabbed the holeshot at the start and rode flawlessly, but with Tomac getting a strong start in third, one had the sense that he was stalking the leader.  At the start of the race, Chase Sexton slotted into second as Tomac patiently rode behind the pair. He slipped past Sexton on Lap 7 of 18 and rode in Webb’s roost for much of the remainder of the race.

The dirt and sand in Tomac’s face did not slow him any and the differential between first and second equalized at about two seconds until the pair hit traffic. Once Tomac got around Webb, he rapidly stretched his advantage and crossed over the finish line by more than five seconds.

Standing on the top of the podium, Tomac could barely control his enthusiasm.

“The whole night is unbelievable,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “That was a fight all the way to the end with Cooper. I really charged through the whoops that time. I felt like that is where I was making a little time. Obviously, there was a little gift there from a lapper. But it was a push all the way.”

Click here for complete 450 results

The late-race pass denied Webb his first feature win of the season, but it comes at a time that Webb is showing a rapid improvement in his results. He finished second in Minneapolis two weeks ago, won one of the Triple Crown events in Arlington last week and finished third in the overall standings.

“It sucks, but it’s racing,” Webb said. “Maybe I should have anticipated a little better. But it’s definitely a bummer when a race is decided, or goes that close, and a lapper gets involved.

“I was close. The closest I’ve ever been. I rode great the whole time. Felt like I rode strong the whole time. I knew Eli was coming and he’s just so damned good here.

“Overall I’m happy, but damn, it sucks. I could taste it. I knew I could go the distance, but shit happens sometimes.”

Chase Sexton held onto to finish third. It was his fourth podium of the season.

Tomac’s win wasn’t the only bit of drama. Early in the race, the frustration between Malcolm Stewart and Jason Anderson boiled over from last week’s contact in Race 1 of the Arlington Triple Crown.

Trailing Anderson at the time, Stewart dive-bombed the rider of the No. 21 and sent both of them to the ground, dropping them to the back of the pack. The pair stayed hooked together for the remainder of the race and rode through the field, but it cost both of them valuable spots and points for Anderson.

Stewart crossed under the checkers seventh, his first result outside the top five in seven races, but after the race both he and Anderson were docked a position for their on-track activities.

Anderson was ninth, and now trails Tomac by 18 points.

Dyland Ferrandis in fourth and Justin Barcia rounded out the top five.

Jett Lawrence put on a clinic in the 250 East division, winning both his heat and feature.

In fact, Lawrence had such a substantial lead in the heat, that he won despite confusing the white and checkered flags. Lawrence slowed on the final lap of his heat to wave at the crowd before his team got his attention and waved him on.

There was no such bobble in the feature as he dominated green to checkers and rode off to a more than 14 second lead.

“This is like a dream come true,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Daniel Blair. “You watch this as a little kid on TV so many times. You got (Justin Barcia) winning it. You got Eli winning it five times. You got Ricky winning it five times. You watch that and you think I want to do that one day. I want to have that experience one day.”

With the win, Lawrence took sole possession of the points’ lead by five points. The win also helped erase the memory of last week’s catastrophic contact between Lawrence and Austin Forkner in Race 3 of the Arlington Triple Crown.

Stilez Robertson crossed under the checkers second, which was his best result of the season and his first top-five of 2022.

For Robertson, it was an emotional cap to a frustrating offseason.

“I was second-guessing myself,” Robertson said. “It was a frickin’ crazy offseason. I separated by shoulder, broke my pelvis. It’s been seven weeks now. I’m so happy.”

Cameron McAdoo entered the weekend tied in points with Lawrence after last week’s troubled race. McAdoo took the overall win as Lawrence was pushed back to third after his crash in Race 3.

Pierce Brown in fourth and Enzo Lopes rounded out the top five.

Click here for complete 250 results


RACE RECAPS

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 career wins

ROUND 4, ANAHEIM: Four races, four winners as Eli Tomac solidifies points lead

ROUND 5, GLENDALE: Tomac wins back-to-back races in Arizona Triple Crown

ROUND 6, ANAHEIM: Anderson ties Tomac with two 2022 wins

ROUND 7, MINNEAPOLIS: Anderson does it again and closes to within three of Tomac

ROUND 8, ARLINGTON: Tomac wins overall as Anderson takes two features

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
0 Comments

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

MORE: McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500

“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”