Tampa Supercross by the numbers: Eli Tomac responds to the heat


Eli Tomac won his third Monster Energy Supercross race of 2023 last week in Houston after feeling the heat from second-place Chase Sexton, and the numbers heading into Tampa suggest that’s just what he needs to perform at his peak.

In Houston, Sexton dominated the preliminary events. He posted the fastest laps in both qualification sessions by almost a full second each time. He surged to an almost eight-second lead in his heat, beating Tomac. And Sexton would go on to set the fastest lap in the Main.

But Eli won. He did so by setting three of the five fastest laps in the race and that was the result of responding well to the pressure. When Sexton got on his back tire on Lap 15, Tomac picked up a half second per lap. After the race, Sexton said the sand section was the area of the track where he struggled most, and according to Clinton Fowler from Three Laps Down he was right. Tomac picked up .3 seconds there on average during the final laps.

Sexton’s second-place last week in Houston and Cooper Webb’s fifth means they are the only two riders with a perfect record of top-fives through four rounds,

Tomac, Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen, Aaron Plessinger, Adam Cianciarulo and Joey Savatgy have swept the top 10.

Meanwhile, Christian Craig has come close to getting his first 450SX top-10 by finishing 11th in each of the last three races.

In the 14th edition of a Tampa Supercross race, Tomac seems to have the edge. He is the only active 450 rider with a win there, having taken the top spot in the last two races, (in 2018 and 2020). And that means this could be the week he catches Ricky Carmichael for fourth in all time Supercross wins with 87.

Twelve of the previous 13 races in Tampa have been held at the current venue, which was named Tampa Stadium before becoming Raymond James Stadium, but with sporadic appearances of late, only two races have been held since 1999. That means no other active 450cc rider other than Tomac has won there.

In fact, no other active rider has multiple podium finishes in Tampa, which suggests Saturday’s race will be a wide-open affair.

Tampa Supercross numbers
Privateer Justin Hill has made all four Main Events this year with three top-15s to show for it. – Feld Motor Sports

Privateers have had a strong run so far in 2023. Justin Hill and Justin Starling have made all four previous Mains while Freddie Noren, Kevin Moranz, and Josh Cartwright have made three.

In the 250cc division, there has never been a repeat winner in Tampa and no former winners are in the field this week, so that trend will continue.

Hunter Lawrence’s win last week in Houston was his 14th podium finish, which ties him with multiple riders for 50th on the all-time list. By earning the maximum in that race, he also climbed into the top 100 in points’ earned in this division – landing 93rd on the list.

Chris Blose, filling in for Pro Kawasaki after that team lost Seth Hammaker and Jo Shimoda, advanced into the top 50 in points (48th).

Last Five Tampa Winners

2020: Eli Tomac
2018: Eli Tomac
1999: Kevin Windham
1998: Larry Ward
1996: Jeremy McGrath

2020: Shane McElrath
2018: Austin Forkner
1999: Ernesto Fonseca
1998: Ricky Carmichael
1996: Michael Pinchon

By the Numbers

Anaheim 2
San Diego

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Eli Tomac wins Seattle Supercross, ties Cooper Webb in championship points


In the past two weeks, Eli Tomac lost his momentum and with it the Monster Energy Supercross red plate to Cooper Webb, but a gutsy performance in Seattle gave him a sixth win of the season as he and the series heads into an off week tied. Tomac is currently tied in the points with Webb.

With this win, Tomac also ties James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list at 50 with six rounds remaining in 2023.

“I needed that bounce back,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was almost like I was in a little bit of a slump in the past couple of weeks; just a little bit off. I’m feeling much better now. That track raced really cool. There were a lot of different lines out there.

“It was obviously very dicey early on. I got passed and then had to make those passes back.”

Tomac suffered with a stiff neck in Indianapolis two weeks ago when he lost the red plate to Webb for the first time in 2023. In that race, he scored his worst finish of the season in eighth. He lost more points in Detroit after finishing a distant third behind Chase Sexton and Webb. This is the fifth time this season that Tomac and Webb finished 1-2 in a race. Tomac has won them all, but Webb has been more consistent.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Seattle

Webb was disappointed to lose the ground to Tomac, but he will enter the Glendale, Arizona race with a red plate and a share of the points’ lead.

“It was overall a great night to get up front and get a second was great,” Webb said after the race. “Those few spots where I would get close to Eli and then make a mistake.

“The track was gnarly. It was no joke. It was cat and mouse as to who could ride the cleanest race and pick the line. I got off to a decent start, but Chase and Eli were ahead of me and I had some catchup to play and got into a good position.”

Early in the race, Sexton was indeed ahead of Webb and the remainder of the field. Another costly mistake sent Sexton to the ground. He battled back to finish fifth but is now 22 points out of the lead and in jeopardy of dropping out of championship contention unless Tomac and Webb have problems.

Rounding out the podium was Justin Barcia, who scored the third-place finish on his birthday

“Awesome ride,” Barcia said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sure we kept the fans on their feet tonight. The track was gnarly. […] We’re searching; we’re so close to having that speed. We want it so badly. We’ll keep pushing hard and going for that win.”

Sexton’s mistake kept the three top points’ earners of 2023 from sharing the podium for the sixth time in 11 rounds, but the trio finished 1-2-3 in Heat 2 with Webb first, Sexton second and Tomac third.

The 250 West contenders were back in action after giving the last four rounds over to the East riders and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off in Oakland: In Victory Lane. Lawrence scored his fourth win in five 250 West rounds. Last week his brother Hunter Lawrence tied Jett with 10 wins, but everyone knew it would not take long for Jett to regain the advantage.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but one race each in their respective divisions.

Lawrence rode a patient race in the Main. He settled in behind Stylez Robertson and concentrated on navigating the ruts mistake-free. He could not afford to be patient any longer when Cameron McAdoo caught up to the leaders. Lawrence found a second gear and gapped the battle for second.

An incident in their main made the battle between Lawrence and McAdoo more dramatic. While racing for second, the pair of riders ran out of room in the rhythm section. Both crashed but had a large enough lead over fourth to maintain their positions.

“It was a very eventful day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’s Daniel Blair, answering a question about the earlier contact. “[…] It’s good to be back racing. It’s been a while. I feel like I’ve had another offseason. Glad to get out in one piece tonight.”

Lawrence now has a 23-point advantage over the field with four rounds remaining.

Click here for full 250 Main Results

RJ Hampshire finished second in his race and is second in the points after a seesaw affair that produced the final pass for position just before the white flag was displayed.

“I felt like I had a pretty good pace going for a little bit,” Hampshire said. “I closed the gap and then had a couple of big mistakes that almost put me on my head. I backed it off a little bit.

“Cam actually gapped me a little more than I would have wanted. I knew I could get a push there at the end. I thought that was the last lap, which is why my pass was a little more aggressive than it should have been, but I’m stoked to be able to close the gap a little bit.”

McAdoo took the final spot on the podium. This is the fourth time in 2023 these three riders have shared the box and if not for a sixth-place finish in Anaheim 2, he would be mounting a much more formidable challenge for the points’ lead.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” McAdoo said. “It did change a lot and the key thing was to get off the rhythms every time. We were swapping back and forth.”

Enzo Lopes in fourth and Max Vohland rounded out the top five.

Robertson had the early lead but when he lost the top spot to Jett he cross rutted on the next lap, crashed hard and failed to finish.

2023 Race Recaps

Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

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