Eli Tomac of Cortez raced wire-to-wire Saturday to win the Monster Energy AMA 450 Supercross in St. Louis.
“Starting out front, it’s amazing what clean air can do sometimes,” Tomac said. “I felt that’s like where I kinda should have been all day. We just brought it to the main.”
Tomac started in gate No. 5, and was first to the turn, followed by Jason Anderson, Broc Tickle and Marvin Musquin. He quickly pulled ahead, and by the fifth lap, had a 4.75 second lead over Anderson.
In the meantime, Musquin and Justin Brayton had passed Tickle, but the race belonged to Tomac.
By the 13th lap, he held an 8.997 second lead over Anderson, and a 16.297 second lead over Musquin. Tomac and his followers eased into their eventual podium positions, and the pace slowed as the leaders began to lap riders in the back of the field. By lap 23, Blake Baggett, who led Tomac by four points for fourth place in the overall standings, was in sixth place and unable to get by Weston Peick. And Anderson dropped to almost 13 seconds behind Tomac.
Tomac would go on to win the 27-lap race by 20.721 seconds. Series-leading Anderson was second, and Musquin was third, 24.823 seconds behind the winner. Brayton finished fourth.
Anderson, who has a big lead in the overall standings, admitted he is taking fewer risks on the track, but he complimented Tomac on his performance. “I started out second right behind Eli, and he had some of those sections ... that he was nailing every lap,” Anderson said in the postrace interview. “And I honestly did not have it in me. I felt that if I kept trying to do some of those lines, it could bite me.”
Tomac, Anderson and Musquin each commented about the grueling 450SX season, and racing 11 straight weekends.
After a rough start to the season, Tomac has climbed from last place to fourth place in the overall standings, with six races to go.
He now has 186 points, just three points behind the third-place Brayton. Anderson leads the series with 246 points, followed by Musquin with 204.
Tomac entered The Dome at America’s Center with a momentum-changing comeback last Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. After crashing in the first lap of the 450SX race, he fell to last place. But the Kawasaki rider quickly mounted a comeback, gaining time in the loose turns and running 17 fast laps to challenge Brayton.
In seven laps, he went from 22nd place to fifth, and in the following five laps, moved into second place, where he finished. During his charge to the front, Tomac consistently ran laps a second faster than the leaders.
In St. Louis on Saturday, Tomac set the pace of race day early, posting the fastest qualifying time of 46.265 seconds. He was 0.625 second ahead of Brayton (Honda), who beat him last week.
He then raced into third place in his heat behind Baggett (KTM) and Anderson (Husqvarna). After starting in seventh, he moved into third by passing Cedric Soubeyras (Suzuki), Chad Reed (Husqvarna), Vince Friese (Honda) and Musquin (KTM). Tomac rode on Baggett’s heels for a couple of laps but couldn’t get past him, and Anderson and Baggett (KTM) held their one-two positions the rest of the way.
The podium winners in the heat were fastest in the tightly contested sixth lap. Tomac ran the lap in 47.468 seconds while challenging Baggett for second. Baggett held off Tomac with a 47.344 second lap, and Anderson kept his lead with a 47.387 second lap.
Brayton won the first heat. His fastest lap was 47.442 seconds.
The Supercross series goes to Indianapolis on March 24, then takes a week off until racing again on April 7 in Seattle.