Eli Tomac of Cortez staged a relentless comeback in the second of two races at the Tennessee National motocross on Saturday and claimed his fifth straight overall victory of the season.
Tomac, who also won the race in 2017, was the Tennessee National’s first back-to-back winner. And he strengthened his lead over rival Marvin Musquin in the overall standings to 32 points.
Racing a week after winning his fourth straight 450MX race by a tiebreaker, Tomac again had to work hard for a paycheck.
In the first moto, Tomac broke from the gate in second, closely trailing Ken Roczen. He was followed by Weston Peick and Justin Barcia.
Tomac measured and stalked Roczen for the first three laps, racing less than a second behind. He made moves to pass him in Laps 4 and 5, trying different passing lanes through the curves and drag racing though the straights. Each time, Roczen neither flinched nor budged.
Tomac kept charging.
He passed Roczen with an inside line on a curve in Lap 6, and poured on the gas to lead by almost 3 seconds. He then ran his fastest lap of the race for a 4-second lead in Lap 7. By the 13th of 18 laps, he had a nearly 11-second lead before easing off a bit to win by about 8 seconds.
“The first moto was good,” Tomac said after the race. “It was a good start, and I was able to make that pass (on Roczen) and was patient about it too.”
Barcia, who also passed Roczen in Lap 6, finished second. Roczen was third, followed by Blake Baggett and Musquin.
Although Musquin finished the first moto off the podium, he made a strong drive to fifth place, racing from 20th place to seventh place in six laps after crashing in Lap 1. He then ran his fastest lap in Lap 8, benefited by Phillip Nicoletti’s crash in Lap 11 and passed Peick in Lap 12 for fifth place. The gap from Tomac to Musquin was almost 22 seconds.
In the second moto, Roczen again was the first through the opening turn, followed by Barcia and Musquin.
This time, Tomac was way back in 19th.
“The second moto was just a bad start,” Tomac said. “We got spit out the back going up the hill, and I was playing catch-up the whole time.”
Barcia passed Roczen for the lead, and Musquin soon got by Roczen to move into second. Musquin then passed Barcia for the lead in Lap 4.
As Musquin, Barcia and Roczen raced out in front, Tomac was charging through the field. He moved into ninth place by the end of Lap 3, and into sixth by Lap 8. At the midpoint of the race, Tomac moved into fifth place, about .4 second behind Peick but 12 seconds off the lead.
Tomac got around Peick in Lap 10 and immediately began reeling in Roczen for third place. He ran him down in Lap 12, a pass that moved him into position for the day’s overall victory.
Tomac eased off in the final two laps, for a safe third place and the overall victory.
“I tried to make a little run at Justin, but he was going good the last four laps.”
Tomac was awarded the title by virtue of his first and third places (1-3). Barcia finished second overall with two second-place finishes (2-2). Musquin was third, with fifth and first places (5-1).
Earlier on Saturday, Tomac was the fastest qualifier in the 450MX class for the third time this season, at 1 minute, 51.405 seconds. Musquin (1:52.034) was second, and Barcia (1:53.159) was third, followed by Baggett and Justin Hill.
Tomac was asked in the post-race interview what it felt like to be in “the zone,” with five straight overall wins.
“It’s when everything’s working, you’re healthy, you’re flowing good on your bike, you feel good in most conditions, and it just makes life easier,” he said. “We’ve got that going on with us right now.”
The 12-race Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series next goes to the sandy track at Southwick National raceway in Massachusetts on June 30.
“I love that place,” Tomac said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Standings, June 231. Eli Tomac of Cortez (Kawasaki): 242
2. Marvin Musquin (KTM): 210
3. Justin Barcia (Yamaha): 184
4. Ken Roczen (Honda): 169
5. Blake Baggett (KTM): 164
6. Weston Peick (Suzuki): 148
7. Benny Bloss (KTM): 126
8. Phillip Nicoletti (Suzuki): 118
9. Cody Cooper (Honda): 80
10. Jason Anderson (Husqvarna): 73