Eli Tomac of Cortez overcame a heavy and muddy track on Saturday to win the 450 Supercross in Seattle and jump into third place in the standings.
In a race shortened by 8 minutes because of track conditions, riders struggled to find a balance between racing for the win and staying on two wheels. Foot pegs dragged in the ruts, and riders tried to preserve their clutches and engines, which strained and smoked under the weight of the mud.
Maintenance crews flattened out the treacherous whoops for the main event in Century Link Field, but riders still struggled.
Marvin Musquin, of KTM, said he raced too cautiously. Jason Anderson, of Husqvarna, said that after crashing earlier in his heat, he backed off for the main event.
Only Tomac found the winning balance.
“I think it was the slowest mud race we’ve done,” Tomac said in the postrace interview. “Most of us would rather have normal conditions. But you just go out there and do it.”
Tomac lined up for the race in the No. 1 spot at the starting gate with Musquin and Anderson beside him. He was second to the first turn behind Musquin, but Anderson slipped through on an inside line to take the lead. By the second lap, it looked like a three-man race, with Anderson leading Musquin by 6 seconds, and Tomac trailing Musquin by about 1 second. The rest of the pack was far behind.
In the third lap, Tomac saved a crash, then passed Musquin for second place, about 8 seconds behind Anderson.
In the sixth, Anderson, who was being pressured by Tomac, briefly went down, and Tomac went around him for the lead.
It was now a two-man race.
By the eighth of 11 laps, Tomac led Anderson by almost 4 seconds, with Musquin way back in third, 24 seconds behind Anderson. By the last lap, Anderson had eased off the throttle. He would finish 8 seconds behind Tomac.
Musquin finished third, and Broc Tickle and Cooper Webb filled out the Top 5.
Tomac’s win catapulted him over Blake Baggett and Justin Brayton for third place in the overall standings behind Anderson and Musquin. Baggett, who was tied with Tomac in fourth place before the Seattle race, finished eighth. Brayton, who entered the race in third, finished 20th.
The race was a milestone in a comeback season for Tomac, who has raced from last place to third in an AMA Supercross series in which he has seemed to either crash or win.
Two weeks ago at Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, Tomac crashed while racing for the lead against Musquin, and finished 15th. The Indianapolis crash came on the back of momentum-changing performances in St. Louis and Daytona. On March 17 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Tomac won wire-to-wire. On March 10 at Daytona International Speedway, he raced from 22nd to second place after crashing in the first lap.
Saturday in Seattle, he again followed up a crash with a strong performance.
After finishing fifth in the shortened qualifying rounds, Tomac ran away with his heat race.
He started the first lap in third, behind Anderson and Baggett, but in the second lap, both Anderson and Baggett went down, putting Tomac safely in first place.
Tomac extended his lead over Anderson to 39 seconds by the sixth and final lap, as the Kawasaki rider, known for riding well in difficult conditions, posted laps of more than 5 seconds faster than Anderson – 1:29.007 compared with 1:34.872.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series next goes to Minneapolis on April 14 for the 14th of 17 races.
This article was updated on April 8 to include information from the postrace interview.