Jason Anderson wins Supercross Round 16 in Denver; Eli Tomac takes the title


Jason Anderson won Supercross Round 16 in Denver, Colorado, but Eli Tomac secured the 2022 championship in front of his home state fans with one round remaining in the season.

Round 16 was a day of statements. Tomac needed to finish 14th or better to secure his second Monster Energy Supercross championship, but in order to take the pressure off the main, he needed a strong heat run. He won Heat 1 and guaranteed a great starting position.

Heat 2 went to the Supercross Power Ranking leader Chase Sexton, but the only rider with a mathematical shot at catching Tomac was closing fast before finishing second in his heat. And that set up one of the most dramatic opening laps to a Supercross race of the season.

Sexton won the hole shot with Tomac second. If the Yamaha rider has had an Achilles Heel this season, it has been modest starts, so Tomac’s solid launch was another statement made during the race.

Jason Anderson slotted into third.

At the four-minute mark, Sexton took himself out of the picture by running wide, hooking a ledge on the exit of a turn, and hitting the dirt. Tomac’s home crowd roared as he took the lead, but he couldn’t shake Anderson, who made a clean pass for the top spot a couple of laps later. Anderson never looked back.

Anderson claimed his third consecutive win and sixth of the season. He can still tie Tomac for the most victories in 2022 if he wins next week in the finale at Salt Lake City.

Click here for complete 450 results

“It feels really good (to win), but it’s a little bittersweet,” Anderson told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “I wanted to make it go to the end, but congrats to Eli. I’ve been racing him forever. He’s been a tough guy to battle forever. He’s been really awesome.”

Anderson and Tomac have raced against one another since they were eight-year-old amatuers.

“For me, three (wins) in a row is awesome and I just want to keep progressing and hopefully we can come back in 2023 and grab that No. 1 plate,” Anderson added.

Once he relinquished the lead, Tomac had little to prove. He faded to fifth at the end, but revealed why his results have fallen off in recent weeks.

“Truly unbelievable. This was in my dreams to make this move – to make this happen this way. We were so strong the whole season. Actually, in Atlanta, I messed up my knee in the heat race and that is why I’ve been kind of sub-par in these last three races. Thankfully I was able to manage what we had going on.”

Unless it’s public knowledge, never show weakness, so Tomac kept this information to himself.

Tomac’s first Supercross title came in 2020 and he was crowned in an empty stadium due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac also has three Lucas Oil Motocross titles, which came in 2019, 2018 and 2017.

With the championship locked up and second-place a virtual lock for Anderson, the focus shifts to third in the standings. A tight battle between Malcolm Stewart in third, Justin Barcia in fourth and Marvin Musquin in fifth will come down to the finale. Eight points separate the three riders.

Stewart earned a little more breathing room with a runner-up finish, while Musquin was able to close the gap slightly on Barcia with his fifth podium in the last six weeks,

Sexton rebounded from his crash and finished fifth.

In the 250 West class, Hunter Lawrence kept the pressure on Christian Craig and closed the gap to 18 points, forcing the rider who started the season with three wins in the first four rounds to ride mistake-free in the finale in Salt Lake City.

In the opening laps, it appeared Craig was stalking Lawrence. He showed his front wheel to the leader a couple of times to try and force Lawrence to make a mistake, but ultimately it was Craig who landed wrong and hit the dirt.

“It was interesting,” Lawrence told Daniel Blair after the race. “(Craig) was pulling me in some spots and then I’d get out a little bit. If he passed – if it was a dirty pass – I probably wouldn’t have been mad because it keeps my championship hopes alive if I had a shot to put him on the ground.

“It may not be nice, but that is honesty. He ended up going down and then I had to control the race.”

It was Lawrence’s third consecutive win and fourth in the last five races. If not for a crash in Anaheim 3, the two riders would be much closer entering the finale.

Lawrence and Craig each have four wins apiece in 2022.

Click here for 250 results

Craig could have locked up the championship with a win and that was on his mind before the crash. he landed awkwardly in the sand section early in the race, crashed and fell to sixth.

“The smallest mistake cost me on that one,” Craig said. “I was riding so good. I felt like I was putting the pressure on Hunter when I needed and almost had the pass a couple of times, but he was riding good; he was consistent.

“I got caught off guard with that crash. I’m glad I was able to come back through the pack again, to third and minimize the damage.”

Michael Mosiman slotted into second for this fifth podium finish of the season, three of which came in the last four rounds. He still has a shot at climbing to second in the points if Lawrence has a disastrous day in Salt Lake City, but can finish no worse than third.

Jo Shimoda in fourth and Garrett Marchbanks rounded out the top five.


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

ROUND 10, DETROIT: Tomac wins incident-filled, third consecutive

ROUND 11, INDIANAPOLIS: Tomac extends lead as competition falters

ROUND 12, INDIANAPOLIS: Tomac wins fifth straight and sets sights on 2022 championship

ROUND 13, ST LOUIS: Marvin Musquin scores first win of 2022 in Triple Crown format

ROUND 14, ATLANTA: Anderson keeps the pressure on with win

ROUND 15, FOXBOROUGH: Anderson’s second straight win pushes battle one more week

With throaty roar, NASCAR Next Gen Camaro is taking Le Mans by storm on global stage

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LE MANS, France — The V8 engine of the NASCAR Chevrolet Camaro has a distinct growl that cannot go unnoticed even among the most elite sports cars in the world at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

When the Hendrick Motorsports crew fired up the car inside Garage 56, NASCAR chairman Jim France broke into a huge grin and gave a thumbs up.

“The only guy who didn’t cover his ears,” laughed seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

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France has been waiting since 1962 – the year his father, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., brought him to his first 24 Hours of Le Mans – to hear the roar of a stock car at the most prestigious endurance race in the world.

A path finally opened when NASCAR developed its Next Gen car, which debuted last year. France worked out a deal to enter a car in a specialized “Innovative Car” class designed to showcase technology and development. The effort would be part of NASCAR’s 75th celebration and it comes as Le Mans marks its 100th.

Once he had the approval, France persuaded Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – NASCAR’s winningest team, manufacturer and tire supplier – to build a car capable of running the twice-around-the-clock race.

The race doesn’t start until Saturday, but NASCAR’s arrival has already been wildly embraced and France could not be more thrilled.

“Dad’s vision, to be able to follow it, it took awhile to follow it up, and my goal was to outdo what he accomplished,” France told The Associated Press. “I just hope we don’t fall on our ass.”

The car is in a class of its own and not racing anyone else in the 62-car field. But the lineup of 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button and Johnson has been fast enough; Rockenfeller put down a qualifying lap that was faster than every car in the GTE AM class by a full three seconds.

The Hendrick Motorsports crew won its class in the pit stop competition and finished fifth overall as the only team using a manual jack against teams exclusively using air jacks. Rick Hendrick said he could not be prouder of the showing his organization has made even before race day.

“When we said we’re gonna do it, I said, ‘Look, we can’t do this half-assed. I want to be as sharp as anybody out there,” Hendrick told AP. “I don’t want to be any less than any other team here. And just to see the reaction from the crowd, people are so excited about this car. My granddaughter has been sending me all these TikTok things that fans are making about NASCAR being at Le Mans.”

This isn’t NASCAR’s first attempt to run Le Mans. The late France Sr. brokered a deal in 1976, as America celebrated its bicentennial, to bring two cars to compete in the Grand International class and NASCAR selected the teams. Herschel McGriff and his son, Doug, drove a Wedge-powered, Olympia Beer-sponsored Dodge Charger, and Junie Donlavey piloted a Ford Torino shared by Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson.

Neither car came close to finishing the race. McGriff, now 95 and inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in January, is in Le Mans as France’s guest, clad head-to-toe in the noticeable Garage 56 uniforms.

“I threw a lot of hints that I would like to come. And I’ve been treated as royalty,” McGriff said. “This is unbelievable to me. I recognize nothing but I’m anxious to see everything. I’ve been watching and seeing pictures and I can certainly see the fans love their NASCAR.”

The goal is to finish the full race Sunday and, just maybe, beat cars from other classes. Should they pull off the feat, the driver trio wants its own podium celebration.

“I think people will talk about this car for a long, long time,” said Rockenfeller, who along with sports car driver Jordan Taylor did much of the development alongside crew chief Chad Knaus and Greg Ives, a former crew chief who stepped into a projects role at Hendrick this year.

“When we started with the Cup car, we felt already there was so much potential,” Rockenfeller said. “And then we tweaked it. And we go faster, and faster, at Le Mans on the SIM. But you never know until you hit the real track, and to be actually faster than the SIM. Everybody in the paddock, all the drivers, they come up and they are, ‘Wow, this is so cool,’ and they were impressed by the pit stops. We’ve overachieved, almost, and now of course the goal is to run for 24 hours.”

The car completed a full 24-hour test at Sebring, Florida, earlier this year, Knaus said, and is capable of finishing the race. Button believes NASCAR will leave a lasting impression no matter what happens.

“If you haven’t seen this car live yet, it’s an absolute beast,” Button said. “When you see and hear it go by, it just puts a massive smile on your face.”

For Hendrick, the effort is the first in his newfound embrace of racing outside NASCAR, the stock car series founded long ago in the American South. Aside from the Le Mans project, he will own the Indy car that Kyle Larson drives for Arrow McLaren in next year’s Indianapolis 500 and it will be sponsored by his automotive company.

“If you’d have told me I’d be racing at Le Mans and Indianapolis within the same year, I’d never have believed you,” Hendrick told AP. “But we’re doing both and we’re going to do it right.”

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Fans gather around the NASCAR Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that is the Garage 56 entry for the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

General Motors is celebrating the achievement with a 2024 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Garage 56 Edition and only 56 will be available to collectors later this year.

“Even though Chevrolet has been racing since its inception in 1911, we’ve never done anything quite like Garage 56,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “A NASCAR stock car running at Le Mans is something fans doubted they would see again.”

The race hasn’t even started yet, but Hendrick has enjoyed it so much that he doesn’t want the project to end.

“It’s like a shame to go through all this and do all this, and then Sunday it’s done,” Hendrick said. “It’s just really special to be here.”