In a stunning comeback, Eli Tomac of Cortez raced from last place to second place Saturday in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross in Daytona.
Starting in the middle of the pack in gate 12, Tomac crashed and dropped to 22nd place at the start. He was more than 20 seconds behind the leaders.
Tomac said later that he got hung up on a berm, lost his balance and went down. “Totally dorked out,” he said. “Dead last.”
But the Kawasaki rider, who posted fast laps all day at Daytona International Speedway, got up and quickly mounted a comeback, gaining time in the loose turns and running 17 fast laps to challenge Justin Brayton for the title.
In seven laps, he went from 22nd place to fifth.
He moved into 18th place in Lap 2, into 12th in Lap 3, into 11th in Lap 4, into 10th in Lap 5, into seventh in Lap 6, into sixth in Lap 7, and into fifth in Lap 8.
He was completing laps about a second faster than the leaders.
In the 11th of 18 laps, he drove past Weston Peick (Suzuki), and in Lap 13 he rode a blazing-fast lap of under 1:13 minutes to challenge the leaders for a place on the podium.
He passed Christian Craig (Honda) in Lap 13 to put him behind Cooper Webb (Yamaha) for third place, then overtook Webb for second in Lap 15 with his fastest lap of the race.
In the final three laps, he pursued Brayton (Honda) for the victory, and settled into a safe second place, 4.450 seconds behind Brayton and 10.182 seconds ahead of third-place Webb.
“I was doing everything I could, just going for it,” Tomac said after the race. “Man, it was a fun race. It wasn’t a win, but we got on that podium.”
Earlier Saturday, Tomac posted the fastest lap after two qualifying runs. He then placed sixth in his heat after crashing late in the race during a duel for the win.
He recorded a lap of 1:09.095 minutes in his second qualifying run. He was followed by Marvin Musquin (KTM) at 1:09.258 minutes and Dean Wilson and Jason Anderson (Husqvarna) at 1:10.180 and 1:10.266 minutes, respectively.
Racing in the second heat, Tomac was fourth at the first turn, behind Webb, Craig and Chad Reed (Husqvarna). He passed Reed in the first of seven laps, and Craig in the third. He stalked Webb for two laps before passing him in the fifth lap for the lead.
In the sixth lap, Tomac took an inside line on Webb, and slid into him. Both riders went down, giving the lead and eventual victory to Craig. Webb would finish fourth, and Tomac, sixth. Tomac ran the fastest lap of the heat, at 1:11.553 minutes.
Brayton won the first heat, ahead of Musquin and Peick. Musquin posted the fastest lap of the two heats, at 1:10.810 seconds.
After an up-and-down start to the season, Tomac has climbed from last place to fifth in the overall standings.
He trails fourth-place Blake Baggett (KTM) by four points, and third-place Brayton by 10 points with seven races to go in the 450SX Supercross series. Next Saturday, the series goes to St. Louis.
OVERALL STANDINGS1. Jason Anderson: 223 points
2. Marvin Musquin 183 points
3. Justin Brayton: 170 points
4. Blake Baggett: 164 points
5: Eli Tomac: 160 points
6. Weston Peick: 153 points
7. Cooper Webb: 146 points
8. Broc Tickle: 131 points
9. Cole Seely: 124 points
10. Justin Barcia: 113 points