Supercross Round 10: Another milestone in Detroit, Eli Tomac takes sole possession of fifth on winners list


Monster Energy Supercross Round 10 in Detroit was one for the books for Eli Tomac.

Just one week after winning a record-setting sixth Monster Energy Supercross race at Daytona, Florida, Tomac set another milestone by taking sole possession of fifth on the all-time winners list with his 42nd career victory, breaking a tie with Ryan Villopoto and landing three wins behind Chad Reed.

It was Tomac’s third straight win of 2022.

Tomac got off to a patented slow start, riding barely inside the top 10 at the end of Lap 1, but then meticulously made his way to the front at the halfway point after passing his principal rival in the championship battle, Jason Anderson, for the lead.

But drama waited in the wings.

After winning his heat, Tomac called this track “tricky.” As it turned out, that was a major understatement.

“That’s the way the track was tonight,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was one of the tougher surfaces I’ve ever ridden or raced on because it had both conditions. It was sticky and hard in the rhythm sections, pulling you left and right. But then it had the base in some of the bottoms of the turns where you could lose your front end.”

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And that is precisely what happened to Anderson in the closing laps. While running second, his front tire washed out and took him to the ground. He was not able to continue and lost even more ground to the points’ leader after getting docked a position and finishing ninth last week in Daytona, he was 21st Saturday night.

The biggest beneficiary of Anderson’s crash was Malcom Stewart. After contact between Anderson and Stewart in back-to-back races at Arlington, Texas and Daytona that drew a penalty last week, the two riders have publicly said the rivalry is over. But it is certain they want to beat one another on the track.

As chaos erupted behind him, Tomac rode a smart race at the end and allowed Stewart to close to withing 3.6 seconds for his second runner-up position of the season.

“I felt good all day,” Stewart said. “Detroit has treated me well. … I’m beyond thankful to be up here again. I’ve been digging deep.”

With his second-place finish and the crash by Anderson, there is a tie for second place in the standings. Unfortunately for Stewart and Anderson, the deficit climbs to 42points.

Chase Sexton crashed heavily with Cooper Webb. (CNBC)

“I didn’t even think I was going to be racing tonight,” third-place Justin Barcia said. “My hand is pretty destroyed.

“I had a practice crash and it’s scary looking. I look a bit zombie-ish. I’m just happy to be here.”

Marvin Musquin scored his fourth top-five of 2022 in fourth, as the ageless Justin Brayton got his first top-five of the season.

But the drama belonged to several riders who finished in the back of the pack. Moments before the Anderson crash, Cooper Webb cased a jump.

Webb might have saved his race, until he was hit in the helmet by Chase Sexton, who had no place to go once Webb slowed in the groove.

After getting clobbered by his own bike, and practically stripped of his jersey, Sexton was immediately done for the night.

But Webb rode one-handed until, with one minute left of the clock and nothing more to gain, he pulled off the track in 20th and snapped a three-race streak of podiums. Webb is fifth in the points with a 56-marker deficit to Tomac.

Jett Lawrence continued to dominate the 250 East class with his third win of the season and a perfect record of podium finishes. After sweeping his heat and feature last week in Daytona, he picked up where he left off and doubled-down again Saturday night.

As with Tomac, it took patience to get to the end. In his case, however, Lawrence had to tiptoe around other riders. His only serious challenge of the night came midway through his heat when Pierce Brown caught Lawrence as the two battled through lapped traffic,

“The lappers were gnarly,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Daniel Blair. “You really had to be patient and I didn’t want to get taken out by a lapper. That would be the worst night ever. I was taking my time. I didn’t want to rush is and make a mistake with the lappers. I got into a flow. I wasn’t trying to just gap everyone.”

In his third full Supercross season, Lawrence is gaining perspective, which is something that should make his competition nervous.

“I’m finally being smarter now; I can say it,” Lawrence continued. “I’m finally being mature a little bit more.

“I’m pretty harsh on myself sometimes with those mistakes. I get pretty frustrated, but plenty of people have told me a lot of champions will make the mistake once and not make them again, so I’m trying to make sure I learn that.”

Cameron McAdoo continues to be the poster child for consistency. Other than a sixth in his first heat race in the season-opener in Minneapolis, Minnesota, McAdoo has swept the podium in every event. He took the overall win in Arlington two weeks ago.

A bad start put him too far behind Lawrence to challenge for the lead, however.

“I need to put myself in a better position at the beginning of the race,” McAdoo said. “I can’t let (Lawrence) get away like that.”

Pierce Brown rounded out the podium after winning his heat in Detroit and barely missing the third step last week in Daytona with a fourth-place finish.

Coming off a crash last week, RJ Hampshire finished fourth.

In fifth, Jordon Smith had an eventful night. Well inside a transfer position in his heat, he was taken to the ground by another rider and fell outside the top 10. He remounted and charged through the field, but could only get to 10th in his heat. Forced into the LCQ, he won that race and challenged for a podium early in the feature.

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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

ROUND 9, DAYTONA: History made as Tomac sets Daytona Supercross record

The Thermal Club wants an IndyCar race, and series executives liked its initial impact at test


THERMAL, Calif. – Many teams in the NTT IndyCar Series questioned the relevancy of having a two-day preseason test at The Thermal Club.

The team owners, drivers and engineers believed the 17-turn, 3.067-mile race course that winds and twists its way through a gated private community (about 45 minutes southeast of Palm Springs) had no relevance to any track on the 17-race schedule.

To the leaders of IndyCar, however, there was plenty of relevance to hosting its “Spring Training” at a sort of motorsports country club that caters to extremely wealthy residents who also are automotive enthusiasts.

“Both with our stakeholders and the media that covers IndyCar, we wanted them to know that we are going to do things differently,” Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles told NBC Sports from the private VIP viewing area that overlooks the long straights and twisting turns of the course. “This is going to be a year when we expect our growth to go to a whole new level.

“What better way to send that message than to be at a place we have never been that is exceptional?

“The quality of this place; the facilities are off the charts. The customer service, the welcoming feeling you get from the staff here. The track itself is fast. The drivers are having a great time on it.

FRIDAY SPEEDSThird session l Fourth session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“It really sent a message to our other promoters and our drivers and team owners that something is up. We want fans around the country and the sports industry to know that something is going on with IndyCar this year.”

The Thermal Club is a concept driven by Tim Rogers, who made his fortune by supplying gasoline to 7-Eleven stores in 36 states. He wanted to create a private community that mixed multimillion-dollar homes and luxury villas with a high-speed race course.

The two-day IndyCar “Spring Training” was the most ambitious motorsports project yet for The Thermal Club.

Rogers wants it to be the first step in a long-term goal for the community.

“Our endgame is we want to host an IndyCar Series race at The Thermal Club one day,” Rogers told NBC Sports as IndyCar hit the track again Friday morning. “This was a good trial to see how the facility can handle it and if the facility works for them.”

Felix Rosenqvist makes laps in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet during the first day of NTT IndyCar Series testing (Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images).

The two-day test was closed to the general public. It was open only to credentialed news media, members of the Thermal Club and a limited number of their guests.

With the spectacular backdrop of the Coachella Valley that is rimmed with snow-capped mountains, The Thermal Club could provide a great setting for an NBC telecast of an IndyCar Series race (and possibly line up a big sponsor for a return on its investment with a larger than normal audience during a ripe time such as the first weekend of February).

NASCAR is using that same model Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum by hosting the Busch Light Clash. The National Football League’s AFC and NFC Championship games were last weekend and next Sunday is the Super Bowl.

“That could work, but we have room where we could separate the public and the private members area, too,” Rogers said. “We could accommodate 4,000 or so of the general public.

“This would be a premium event for a premium crowd.”

Rogers’ dream of The Thermal Club began 11 years ago. He will talk to IndyCar about a return for Spring Training next year with hopes of getting a date on the schedule for 2025.

“Whatever fits,” Rogers said.

Miles and Penske Entertainment, the owners of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indianapolis 500, realize Rogers has an ambitious dream of getting a race on the schedule.

Miles, however, isn’t ready to indicate that a race at Thermal is part of IndyCar’s future (though drivers seem open to the concept).

“Tim and everybody at The Thermal Club have done a phenomenal job of being hosts here for this test,” Miles said. “Everybody is very happy we are here, and I expect we will find a way to continue to be here. Whether that means a race and when is really a bridge we aren’t ready to cross yet.

“We really like opening the championship season each year in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’ll have to see. But it’s a great way to start the season in this way, and right now, we are happy to be here.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Defending IndyCar champion Will Power takes laps at The Thermal Club during the first day of the track’s first test (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

On track, it was a successful two-day test session with 27 car/driver combinations that will compete in IndyCar in 2023. It’s the largest field for IndyCar since the 1990s. There were a few spins here and there but no major incidents across 2,560 laps.

Kyle Kirkwood led the final session Friday while getting acquainted with his new No. 27 team at Andretti Autosport. Kirkwood has replaced Alexander Rossi at Andretti, whom Kirkwood drove for in Indy Lights.

His time of 1 minute, 38.827 seconds (111.721 mph) around the 3.067-mile road course was the fastest of the fourth and final session. But the fastest speed over two days was defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing in the Friday morning session (1:38.4228, 112.182 mph in the No. 8 Honda).

Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing was second in the final session at 1:38.8404 (111.707 mph) in the No. 77 Chevrolet. Rookie Marcus Armstrong of New Zealand was third at 1:38.8049 (111.707 mph) in the No. 11 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing was fourth at 1:38.8718 (111.672 mph) in the No. 10. Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske rounded out the top five at 1:38.9341 (111.602 mph) in the No. 12 Chevrolet.

Ericsson was the fastest in combined times followed by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard at 1:38.5682 in the No. 45 Honda, Kirkwood, Ilott and Armstrong. Positions 3-5 speeds were from the final practice session on Friday.

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
With members’ houses in the background, Romain Grosjean navigates the turns of The Thermal Club in his No. 28 Dallara-Honda (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

Drivers didn’t know what to expect before hitting the track. After the two-day test was over, NBC Sports asked several drivers what they learned from The Thermal Club.

“I think it’s a first-class facility, no doubt,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske said. “I think the entire facility here at Thermal really rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a tremendous job.

“It was a fairly flawless test, I would say, for two days. I think the great thing about this was we had a two-day test, which was fantastic. You got to have this warmup; this preseason build. That was the biggest positive for me, is that we were here, we were running cars. It was a great facility to do it at.

IndyCar Thermal Club test
Josef Newgarden said his No. 2 team (which has a new lead engineer) used The Thermal Club test as an opportunity for building cohesion (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).
Indycar Series Test - Day 2
Josef Newgarden (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

“I think the track was a lot more fun than we anticipated. It was challenging, definitely technical. I don’t know how relevant it is. For us, it wasn’t really relevant to anywhere we’re going, but that’s OK.”

But even though the track has no sector particularly similar to any road or street course on the schedule, there still were benefits.

“In a lot of ways, it is relevant,” Newgarden said. “For us it was relevant for building the team up, trying to work in a competitive environment, be competitive together. That’s everything. So regardless of is the setup going to apply to a certain track or another, (it) doesn’t really matter.

“For us, it was applying the principles of how we’re going to work together. From that standpoint, it was very productive for everybody. Raceability-wise, it’s hard to say. It was chewing tires up. Big drop-off from run one to two. I think from a race standpoint, that would be quite positive. You’d have big tire deg here.

“You’d have to do more work on runoff areas if we wanted to race here, but it’s possible. I don’t think it would take much effort to do the things to run an actual race.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Will Power (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Kirkwood found speed in his Andretti Autosport machine, but he used the test to create a smooth working relationship with his new crew.

“I wouldn’t say that we found something here that is going to translate to anywhere, right?” the 2021 Indy Lights champion said. “This is a very unique track, although it was a lot of fun to drive, and it kind of surprised me in the amount of grip that it actually produced.

“It was quite a bit faster than what we expected.”

Many of the NTT IndyCar Series teams will test later this month at Sebring, Florida, as they prepare for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to kick off the season March 5.

“It’s a very nice facility, a nice area, it’s pretty cool to have two days of testing here with a lot of high-profile people,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske told NBC Sports. “It’s a very technical, tough track.

“It’s pretty good.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 2
IndyCar drivers turns laps on the second day of testing at The Thermal Club, which is nestled in the Coachella Valley that is ringed by mountains in Southern California (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

The Thermal Club received rave reviews, welcomed IndyCar and provided exposure to the movers and shakers of the business community that own the luxury villas and homes in this ultra-rich community.

Could it be a venue of the future for a series that sells lifestyle as much as on-track competition?

“This is a fantastic facility and the circuit is a fast circuit,” team owner Bobby Rahal told NBC Sports. “It’s pretty exciting to watch the cars run around here. I think it would be attractive to people.

“I’ll leave that up to Mark Miles and (IndyCar President) Jay Frye and everybody else whether we have a race here, but why not?

“It’s a great place.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500