With finishes of 1-2-1, Eli Tomac won the Monster Energy Supercross Triple Crown in Glendale, Arizona, to move into sole possession of second place on the all-time 450 wins list (breaking a tie with James Stewart).
Tomac also moved into the points lead, breaking a tie with Cooper Webb, who finished fourth overall and fell seven points behind with five rounds left in the 2023 season.
“It was a fantastic evening,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “This is somewhat of a local race for me. We have so many friends and family out here. I always have good energy here. It was a very tough racetrack, one of the slicker ones we’ve raced on in a long time. It was fun. It was a different challenge.”
This was Tomac’s sixth victory this season but his first in a Triple Crown after a distant sixth in Anaheim 2 and a third in Arlington.
Tomac was at his best on the outside to start.
“There was pressure the whole race,” he said after winning the first race. “Most importantly, went out there, got the good start, went outside again, did the big sweep move, and that’s been working out. I plan on lining up there again, trying to repeat that and just try to ride smooth.”
Tomac consistently made the outside line work, and Webb thought he had his best chance to take the lead by keeping Tomac next to him.
Tomac had the fastest time in qualifications, and the consensus was he would be difficult to beat in race trim.
He made that apparent in Race 1 when he grabbed the early lead and slowly built a gap on Webb during the early laps. After falling behind by more than a second, Webb kept pace and maintained hope of racing Tomac for the overall victory.
RESULTS: How they finished in the 450 Overall in Glendale
That failed to materialize when Webb started one gate outside of Tomac in Race 2.
He was unable to take the same sweeping angle at Tomac into that turn and got shuffled back to sixth. Ending the second race in fifth, he had a poor gate pick for the final race and finished off the podium for only the third time in 12 events this year.
Webb was fourth overall with finishes of second, fifth and fourth.
Chase Sexton made up a little ground on Webb with a second overall.
He got off to a slow start on the night with a fourth in Race 1 but recovered to win the second feature. A third in the final race secured the award for rider with the best overall finishes in three Triple Crown races this year ahead of Tomac and Webb.
“I was solid tonight,” Sexton said. “I had a really bad start in the second race that put me back. Eli had the win in the first one, and then I tried to rebound as quickly as I could in that second race. I had a really good start [in Race 3] in the first turn, and I don’t know what happened. Some guy came wide open in the first turn and hit me and caused a pileup.”
Kevin Moranz overcooked the first turn and created a traffic jam that cost several riders momentum, including Webb.
Here’s what happened off the start in 450 Race Three 👀
Monster Energy 450 Race Three LIVE fueled by @frysfoodstores#SupercrossLIVE #SuperMotocross pic.twitter.com/m2CNKIFXbI
— Supercross LIVE! (@SupercrossLIVE) April 9, 2023
With finishes of third, sixth and second, Justin Barcia (third overall) earned his first Triple Crown podium.
“Eli ran a great race,” Barcia told Jason Thomas. “I was just following him. The lines were tough. There weren’t a lot of options, to be honest. I was trying the outside of the whoops. I was just hammer down. The track was super gnarly.”
Behind Webb, Ken Roczen rounded out the top five with a 5-3-5.
In the third race, Jason Anderson got out of shape in the whoops and crashed while running fourth. Unable to finish, he was 10th overall with a 6-4-21, but his presence was felt by Webb in Race 2.
Midway through the event and desperately needing to make up ground in event points, Webb made an aggressive move that raised the ire of Anderson.
In the next turn, Anderson returned the favor and passed Webb without contact, but he made his bike as wide as possible until the checkers waved.
Christian Craig, who entered the round eighth in points, crashed hard in practice and was helped off the track by medical staff. He was unable to mount up for the night show, and it was announced during the broadcast he injured his elbow. The severity of that injury is still in question.
The third and final race of the Glendale Triple Crown came down to a battle between RJ Hampshire, Jett Lawrence and Levi Kitchen, the winner of the Arlington Triple Crown.
Balancing aggression and patience, Lawrence ultimately had the right mixture to win the first Triple Crown of his career.
“We finally lifted the curse,” Lawrence said. “I’m now officially a Triple Crown guy. I am him now. It’s good to finally lift that curse. The starts were back to normal again, back to getting good starts. It makes it a lot easier being up there. The middle [race] kind of took me a while to get going. The next one, I was full of beans, we got the whoops sorted and cha-ching.”
In Race 3, Kitchen got the holeshot as Lawrence settled into second. Hampshire was mired in fifth. Three minutes into the race, Hampshire moved up to third but almost met with disaster in the whoops. He missed the top of a jump and rode his bucking bike to the end of section and miraculously held on.
Close call for the 24 of Hampshire 😳 #SupercrossLIVE #SuperMotocross pic.twitter.com/5ZcLeUlTby
— Supercross LIVE! (@SupercrossLIVE) April 9, 2023
At the same time, Lawrence passed Kitchen for first and kept his advantage until the checkers, finally earning his first Triple Crown format race in his final attempt in the 250 class with a 1-3-1. The final three rounds of the 250 West season will be run under the regular format.
Hampshire entered the final race of the night with a one-point advantage over Lawrence after winning Race 2. In that race, Lawrence lacked a sense of urgency, perhaps in an effort to keep from making a mistake. Like Lawrence, Hampshire swept the podium with a 2-1-3, but came up one point shy of winning the overall and taking maximum points.
“That was kind of it,” Hampshire said. “I knew if I wanted a shot at winning, I had to get a good start. Someone came from the outside and broke so hard and cut underneath and that messed me up.”
This was the fifth time in six rounds Hampshire finished second to Lawrence.
Click here for 250 overall results
Kitchen also swept the podium and finished third overall with a 3-2-2.
“From practice it was a good step in the right direction,” Kitchen said after getting his second podium of the season. “I wasn’t riding very good in practice, so to come out and get three holeshots, that was great. I put in some solid laps and had a good time riding with those guys.”
The question before and during the race was whether Lawrence was in his own head. A minor mistake on Lap 1 of the initial start of the first feature allowed Kitchen to momentarily get around. It was short-lived though, with Lawrence taking the lead before the end of the first lap. Lawrence had found his rhythm, but a red flag for a Stylez Robertson crash brought a complete restart.
On the restart, Kitchen grabbed the holeshot and lead the first two laps. Lawrence has struggled in Triple Crowns often because he presses at the wrong time. He was patient in Race 1 as Hampshire was involved in a snarl in the first turn. That may have been the difference that kept him from putting more pressure on Lawrence.
Hampshire moved into second on Lap 5 of Race 1.
“Like I said earlier, I just needed to make sure my starts were good,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’ Jason Thomas. “So far they’re consistent and let’s hope I keep that throughout the night. One down, two more to go.”
In Race 2, Lawrence rode cautiously and it cost him. He rode in fourth for much of the race and fell four seconds behind. Once he finally passed Max Vohland, he continued to lose distance to the leader Hampshire and second-place Kitchen. Lawrence finally found speed in the final two laps, putting down the fastest lap of the race with one to go, but he waited too long and could not overtake Kitchen on the final lap.
Pierce Brown crashed on the opening lap of Race 1 but recovered to finish fourth. He was fourth in Race 2 and fifth in the final race to take fourth overall.
With a 7-5-4, Enzo Lopes steadily improved and earned his third top-five of the season.
2023 Race Recaps
Seattle: Eli Tomac wins and ties Cooper Webb for first
Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: 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 Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time
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