Eli Tomac wins Motocross Round 7 at Spring Creek; Jett Lawrence continues to dominate 250s

Tomac Motocross Round 7
Align Media / ProMotocross.com

Eli Tomac got off to a slow start in 2022, but after winning at High Point in Round 4, he’s been undefeated and for the third straight week, earned maximum points in Motocross Round 7 at Spring Creek MX Park in Millville, Minn.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. In the past three weeks it has been Tomac 1-1 and Sexton 2-2, but with Tomac slowly gaining the advantage, he finally assumed the championship lead and holds a five-point advantage.

“That was crazy, running at that pace the whole time [in Moto 2],” Tomac said. “I had my work cut out for me off the start and had to make some passes. I was able to get by Chase early and that was huge. We made some changes to the bike in the second moto that really helped and allowed me to put the bike where I wanted.”

Second-place finishes in both motos tell only part of the story for Sexton. In Moto 1, he was able to catch and pass Tomac until a fall near the end cost him the lead. He got a great start in Moto 2 and gapped Tomac by two seconds in the opening lap.

It didn’t last long. Tomac found another gear on the second lap, made some dangerous jumps, and muscled past Sexton.

Sexton did not let Tomac ride away. He stayed within two seconds for the remainder of the race and mounted a charge at the end.

“My riding hasn’t been an issue, but I honestly felt off today and made a lot of mistakes,” Sexton said. “I tried my best all day though.

“That was crazy running at the pace the whole final moto, but [Tomac] is riding awesome right now. I obviously need to do some things better and I’ll keep fighting.”

Jason Anderson had a strong and consistent run, finishing third in the first race and fourth in the second to claim third overall.

“I didn’t put myself in a good position to start, but I did what I had to do in order to get on the podium,” Anderson said. “I’m exhausted, but we’ll keep doing whatever we have to continue to be up here.”

Christian Craig withstood a charge from Anderson in Moto 2 and finished third, giving him a fourth-place finish overall.

Ryan Dungey rounded out the top five with a 4-6.

It was a disastrous round for Ken Roczen. He crashed in both motos to finish 16th overall with a 26-12.

450 results (moto finish)

  1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (1-1)
  2. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-2)
  3. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (3-4)
  4. Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha (5-3)
  5. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plain, Minn., KTM (4-6)
  6. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas, (6-5)
  7. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (7-7)
  8. Benny Bloss, Oak Grove, Mo., KTM (9-10)
  9. Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Husqvarna (10-11)
  10. Brandon Hartranft, Brick, N.J., Suzuki (13-13)

450 points standings

  1. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha – 317
  2. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 312
  3. Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 245
  4. Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 236
  5. Christian Craig, Temecula, Calif., Yamaha – 220
  6. Ryan Dungey, Belle Plain, Minn., KTM – 218
  7. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GasGas – 190
  8. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 177
  9. Shane McElrath, Cantaon, NC, Husqvarna – 139
  10. Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 125

Jett Lawrence continues to dominate, scoring his fifth consecutive moto win in the 250 class and earning his sixth overall win in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Round 7.

Moto 1 was hard fought between Jett and his brother Hunter Lawrence with Jett crossing the line a fraction of a second ahead. Moto 2 was shaping up to be the same with Hunter taking an early lead and Jett chasing, but two accidents on Lap 2 forced a complete restart. Hunter was not as fortunate on the second start. He got mired in traffic and completed the first lap in ninth.

“[In Moto 2], I had a much better flow where I wasn’t using as much energy as the first one,” Jett told MavTV’s Jason Thomas. “The first was kind of a sprint on, sprint off thing with Hunter. In this one, I got my gap and just managed from then. No need to send it. I was thinking, maybe I need to push and start the boat for 450s.”

Hunter climbed to fifth within a few laps, but he lost too much time getting through traffic and finished more than 30 seconds behind.

Jo Shimoda has been working on his restarts and got a good jump in Moto 1 before finishing third. He got a good start in Moto 2 as well, but was collected one of the early accidents. Shimoda dropped to the back of the pack until officials were forced to throw the red flag to get medical attention for Thomas Welch.

During the break, Welch walked to the cart under his own power. Stilez Robertson was also carted off holding his right leg.

Shimoda earned another strong start in Moto 2, challenging Jett for second in the opening laps. Once Jett got around Cooper, Shimoda had a tougher time and lost ground to the leader as the battled for position.

“Every race I feel like I’m improving little by little,” Shimoda said. “I was able to get a much better start in the second moto, coming out third or fourth is like a holeshot to me, so I’m really happy to get another podium.”

Hunter’s fifth-place finish in Moto 2 was enough to give him third overall, but after losing ground to the leader in both motos, he is now 27 points behind.

“My first start was good, but I messed up on the restart,” Hunter said. “I was really tired at the end there in the second moto, but got to take the positives and be happy to finish on the box. Jett is riding really great right now.”

Justin Cooper earned the hole shot in both motos. He fell in Race 1 and dropped to sixth. In the second moto, he was embroiled in a fierce battle with Shimoda before finishing third. That was enough for fourth overall.

With a 5-4, RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five.

There were a couple of solid runs for rookie contenders.

Nick Romano got the early lead from Cooper, but he couldn’t hang on as Hunter got around halfway through Lap 1. After the restart, Romano was battling for ninth with his teammate when Nate Thrasher clipped his back tire. The contact forced the rear wheel down, turning the bike almost vertical. Romano’s bike landed hard and pitched him into a vicious tumble. Romano tried to remount, but the bike was too damaged to continue.

It didn’t take long for Ryder DiFrancesco to get his first overall top-10 finish. One week after finishing 13th with a 14-12 in his debut at RedBud last week, he finished eighth overall at Spring Creek that included his first moto top-10.

250 results (moto finish)

  1. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (1-1)
  2. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (3-2)
  3. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (2-5)
  4. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY, Yamaha (6-3)
  5. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (5-4)
  6. Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM (4-6)
  7. Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Penn., Kawasaki (8-7)
  8. Ryder DiFrancesco, Bakersfield, Calif., Kawasaki (13-8)
  9. Pierce Brown, Sandy, Utah, GasGas (12-9)
  10. Carson Mumford, Simi Valley, Calif., Suzuki (16-10)

250 points standings

  1. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 311
  2. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 284
  3. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 266
  4. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, NY – 232
  5. Levi Kitchen, Washougal, Wash., Yamaha – 180
  6. Seth Hammaker, Bainbridge, Penn., Kawasaki – 178
  7. Michael Mosiman, Sebastapol, Calif., GasGas – 169
  8. Stilez Roberston, Bakersfield, Calif., Husqvarna – 169
  9. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 166
  10. Max Vohland, Sacramento, Calif., KTM – 162

Round 1, Fox Raceway: Chase Sexton takes early lead in the championship hunt
Round 2, Hangtown: After 12 years of trying, Jason Anderson wins a Motocross race
Round 3, Thunder Valley: Three races, three winners as Ken Roczen takes the top spot
Round 4, High Point: Now four-for-four, Eli Tomac takes the trophy
Round 5, RedBud: Tomac becomes first in 2022 with two wins; Hunter Lawrence takes red plate in 250s
Round 6, Southwick: Tomac’s domination continues with a second perfect round

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws

More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”