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Images from 2020 Salt Lake City Supercross Round 15.
NEWS

Eli Tomac’s Stretch Run

Jun 162020

Off in the distance, Eli Tomac can see it. It’s the culmination of years of dominance in the 450SX Class combined with the heartache of coming up short each and every time. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider has been chasing the world’s most coveted championship in Monster Energy Supercross for the past seven seasons, and despite racking up 34 career wins, enough to put him into a tie for sixth on the all-time wins list, Tomac has had to sit and watch the World Championship go to someone else year after year.

Adding to the frustration over the years was the fact that Tomac has entered every season since the retirement of Ryan Dungey as a heavy championship favorite. Outside of Chad Reed, a racing icon, no other rider in Monster Energy Supercross can come even close to matching Tomac’s accolades. He has been the dominant force in the championship, yet something always seemed to prevent him from making that championship run.

While Supercross continued to be a source of frustration, Tomac’s reign over the sport continually came to fruition in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, where Tomac is now a reigning three-time 450 Class titleholder. It’s been painstakingly obvious that Tomac has all the tools to be a Supercross champion, but there has always been a missing piece of the puzzle.

While the 2020 season has been anything but normal, it’s ultimately proven to be the year where Tomac appears to have finally put it all together. For a rider who has always seemed to have something go awry over the course of the 17-race season, perhaps it’s fitting that his title run has been defined by a global pandemic upending the sports world. Based on previous years, this seven-race homestand in Salt Lake City could have been the one thing to derail an otherwise stellar season for Tomac. But with the birth of his first child and an extended three-month layoff in the middle of the season, Tomac’s new perspective has made him even better since Monster Energy Supercross returned to action.

 

In five races inside Rice-Eccles Stadium, Tomac has captured a pair of wins and has yet to finish off the podium. He’s been incredibly consistent, and his success has been a byproduct of patience and determination. More often than not Tomac has had to fight his way through the field, but he’s been able to do so with relative ease. He’s clearly been on another level compared to the majority of his rivals, and it’s allowed him to overcome virtually anything thus far.

 

Tomac has certainly benefitted from the consistent pressure applied by Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb. The two other riders still mathematically eligible to win this season’s championship have been upfront every time the gate drops, and it’s forced Tomac’s hand. There’s no doubt that Tomac would be on his game every time, but when your two main challengers are putting themselves at the head of the pack on a regular basis, there’s that much less room for error. That’s where Tomac has really shined during Monster Energy Supercross’ stay in Salt Lake City. Through all the passing he’s done on the track, and all the close calls that come along with it, he’s yet to have a misstep. He hasn’t once shown that the moment might be too big, or that the pressure might be getting to him. He’s been cool, calm, and collected every step of the way, and it has ultimately allowed him to possess a 24-point lead heading into the final two rounds of the 2020 season.

 

With the penultimate race of the championship looming in less than 24 hours, a victory on Wednesday night would clinch the 450SX Class title. It’s a position Tomac has never been in before in Monster Energy Supercross, but it’s certainly one he’s well aware of and has been prepared for. It’s arguably the biggest opportunity of Tomac’s entire career, and based on what we’ve seen thus far, he’s more equipped for the moment than ever before.

 

While his third-place finish on Sunday may have been his quietest to date at Rice-Eccles Stadium, it was also his most practical one. Tomac knows how comfortable his position is in the championship standings, and there’s no need to make an unnecessary mistake chasing an unlikely outcome. It was a full understanding of the big picture and the position he’s managed to put himself in after all these years. Tomac came into 2020 with one goal; to finally capture the championship that has managed to elude him so many times before. Now, that moment has arrived. For seemingly the first time he’s in control of his own destiny, and by simply riding with the confidence and precision we’ve seen thus far, it’s hard to think that things can end any other way than Tomac hoisting that World Championship trophy on Sunday afternoon.

 

But first, the matter at hand is Wednesday’s event. If the opportunity is there, don’t be surprised to see Tomac toe the line a little further than before. At the end of the day, he’s still in a league of his own in terms of race pace. He’s able to dig deeper than anyone else and find that little extra. It’s been the difference-maker all season long, and it could be the championship-winning formula on Wednesday night.

 

The stretch run is here, and Tomac is ready to finish strong.

 

450SX Class Results

1. Ken Roczen, Honda

2. Cooper Webb, KTM

3. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

9. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing

10. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing

19. Martin Davalos, Team Tedder/Monster Energy KTM

 

450SX Class Standings (After 15 of 17 Rounds)

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 343

2. Ken Roczen, Honda - 319

3. Cooper Webb - 318

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