Arlington, Texas — The eighth round of the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship series was also Round two of both the Monster Energy Triple Crown series-within-a-series and the Eastern Regional 250SX Championship.
The event provided six great Races in front of 62,105 fans inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Eli Tomac brought his Monster Energy Kawasaki team its fourth win of 2020, the 31st win of his career, in typical Tomac style – a dramatic charge through the pack when everything was on the line.
Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Jason Anderson grabbed the holeshot in 450SX Race 1 of the Triple Crown format of three 12-minutes plus one lap Races. Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb went by in the second corner, but just a few turns later Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen flew through the whoops to get close enough to pass Webb down the following straight. Tomac was buried in 13th place off the start and moved up slowly, reaching only fifth place by the checkers.
Roczen said after his fourth straight Triple Crown Race win, “I didn’t grab a good start out of the gate but I kinda snaked my way around the inside and then I grabbed a handful in the whoops and just made my way to the inside of Cooper there and took this one. So I’m really happy now. It’s always good to start the first one off like that.”
The second time the 450 riders lined up, Blake Baggett put his Rocky Mountain ATV/MC-KTM-WPS out front with the holeshot.
Just four corners in, Tomac made his move at a corner entrance and rode on to an uneventful victory for him. Cooper Webb was eighth at the holeshot stripe, lost a spot early to Roczen, then mounted a charge forward. He moved up five positions in ten laps of the 17 Lap race, but then had a bad crash off the Dragon’s Back on Lap 16 and did not finish. Jason Anderson steadily climbed from fifth to second during Race 2, putting him in the event’s points lead with 5 points, a one point advantage over Tomac.
Tomac was feeling good on the podium, “Got around the first turn better that time and just rode a way better race. Body was looser, I felt like myself, so that was nice.”
450SX Race 3 was a barn burner; Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne grabbed the holeshot with Baggett, Anderson, Roczen, and Tomac hot on his heels. On Lap four Baggett crashed in a corner, and the tight lead pack was down to four – but they were close for the first half of the race, a couple times putting all four in the whoops section at the same time. Tomac had an intense battle with Roczen, finally closing the door by taking Roczen’s line away up the face of a triple jump. A lap later Tomac was past Osborne and had his sights on Anderson for what would be a winner-take-all between the two for the overall win in Arlington. It was another close battle for Tomac, but he pulled clear to leave Anderson in a fight with Roczen for second. Anderson went off-track following the whoops, allowing Roczen past but recovering for fifth in Race 3, and third place overall on the night.
On the podium Tomac explained he was aware of the points during the Race, and at one point knew he was in third overall, but concentrated not on strategy but on simply winning, “My main focus was just going forward. I had a few spots on these guys where I was making up time and I knew where I could get inside after the finish line there. I ended up racing a lot better in Race 2 and 3 there. So, I was just fighting the whole night, and a great way to come out on top.”
Roczen was happy with second considering he was feeling a little off of his top form during the day, “I had my struggles tonight and today in general. I wasn’t feeling it, but Eli was honestly the fastest tonight. I rode good in the first main but still I just physically didn’t feel that great. I’m glad that in the last race I was able to put up a good fight. Me and Eli were going back and forth a couple of times, but I made a mistake there and he went back by. I tried to attack Zach and attack Jason; I actually went by Jason already once. But really tough, the way the turns are set up, especially after the finish line. You know you win and lose a little bit, and then Jason made the mistake so I could get into second. We salvaged a second today overall which I’m happy with, with all things considered. And championship is still all good.”
Jason Anderson commented after the race about running up in the lead again, “I haven’t been out front in a long time. It’s been probably since 2018 so right now, up front, I feel good but at the same time I’m a little bit hesitant up there. I just need to keep doing it, race after race, and give myself that opportunity. But all in all, I had a good race, that last lap was a little mishap, kinda cost me second overall. But all in all, I’m having a good time and excited to keep going, battle these guys. It’s hectic out there with this Triple Crown.”
The racing in the Eastern Regional 250SX Class was just as dramatic, with a great battle in 250SX Race 1 that saw Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s RJ Hampshire grab his first Supercross win after an aggressive pass that put defending champion, GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton, on the ground. Sexton would remount to finish second.
In Race 2 Sexton got into the lead on the opening lap and pulled out a comfortable gap on the field. Behind him, last weekend’s winner Monster Energy / Star Yamaha Racing’s Shane McElrath was slicing his way through the pack, but Sexton was long gone by the time McElrath made it to second place.
250SX Race 3 belonged to McElrath, taking the holeshot and leading every lap. Sexton kept him honest but never mounted a charge for the lead. Sexton’s second place finish in Race 3 earned him the evening’s overall; the finish puts Sexton and McElrath tied in the Eastern Regional 250SX title chase and they each will run the red number plate next weekend.
Chase Sexton was of course happy on the podium, and dedicated his race, “We had a great bike in the whoops all night. I was so pumped; we made a big change in practice and it paid off. The whole team has been really productive and I’m happy to get up here and win for them because we put a lot of work in this off-season. It’s been a great start of the season, but this is for my sister, it’s her birthday today and it’s cool to get a win on her birthday.”
Last week’s winner, Shane McElrath, wasn’t content with second but glad to take it considering a less than perfect night, “We work hard and we work to be in the number one spot. I really tried hard today; I really tried a little too hard the first two [Races]. Man, I just had some silly mistakes and bad starts, and that’s not what we work for… The Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha team, they worked their butts off today. We had the Triple Crown, everybody was running around wide open today so they really did a good job.”
RJ Hampshire said after the race, “The track was pretty tough. I had a pretty good jump line in the whoops that I knew as the track developed would have been pretty good. Just a bummer that second one, got smoked there first lap, and kinda a comeback from there… My wife and my daughter’s here tonight, my home life’s awesome just wish I could have a little bit more on the race weekends. So we’re going to go back to work this week and come out firing next week.”
Two 450SX Class front runners who had rough events were Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo, who crashed in qualifying, and Cooper Webb, who went down in 450SX Race 2, both of which could affect the championship.
Next weekend the series takes the action to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia where the 450SX Class and Eastern Regional 250SX Class racers go to battle again.
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