Grit Puts Monster Energy on Daytona Podium

Mar 112018

Exactly 45 years to the day of the first ever Monster Energy Supercross race, the championship returned to the site of that groundbreaking event for its most celebrated round on the schedule – the Daytona Supercross. The trademark ruthlessness of Daytona’s iconic infield layout was on full display, producing the kind of unpredictable action that only it can.

Given the brutal nature of the Daytona Supercross, the runner-up effort by Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac will go down in history as one of the most impressively resilient rides in championship history. In what can best be described as the ultimate showcase of grit, Tomac started dead last and came up just one position short of completing a pass around all 21 of his fellow competitors.


"I never gave up. I did what I could but Justin (Brayton) was riding great, so congrats to him. When you're that far back all you can do is charge forward. And I was just like 'let's get to this podium.'"


The adversity Tomac faced at the start of the 450SX Class Main Event was the continuation of a frustrating heat race in which he was forced to deal with the aggressive defense of fellow Monster Energy athlete Cooper Webb. After he took the lead out the gate, the Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing rider eventually came under fire from Tomac. Webb did all he could to keep Tomac at bay, and the Kawasaki rider wasn’t fond of some of Webb’s defensive tactics. Tomac attempted to put an end to the battle and make a bit of a statement to Webb in doing so, and forced contact that ultimately took both riders to the ground. While both riders went on to easily transfer into the Main Event, tension was high as the field lined up on the gate for the Main Event.


Tomac exited the first turn of the 20-minute-plus-one-lap Main Event with some work to do, as did Webb. As he attempted to make a pass to break into the top five, Tomac’s Kawasaki came out from under him. He was forced to wait for the entire field to pass before remounting in 22nd place. From there, the Coloradoan was on a mission.


It took just four laps for Tomac to break into the top 10, on a torrential pursuit that carried him past point leader Jason Anderson. One lap later, Tomac found himself in a battle with rival Marvin Musquin, who went from the race lead to a frantic battle to stay in the top 10 after a pair of incidents. Soon enough, Tomac was knocking on the door of the top five, with each of his biggest competitors in his wake.


Tomac continued to hammer down the fastest laps on the track and eventually fought his way onto the podium after he made quick work of Christian Craig. After that, the crowd at Daytona International Speedway was on alert when the No. 3 Kawasaki and Webb’s No. 2 Yamaha found one another in the late stages of the race in a battle for second. The two went at it again, to the delight of the fans, but this time Tomac got around without incident. With two minutes and two laps remaining in the Main Event the win was within reach as Tomac faced about a five-second deficit to Justin Brayton, who had led all but one lap up to that point.


Tomac pushed he and his Kawasaki to the absolute limit over the final stages, but ran out of time to make a serious challenge for the win. Brayton parlayed a strong start and consistent, mistake free laps into the first win of his career, in his eighth season of premier class competition. Brayton’s triumph was a historic one, as he broke Mike LaRocco’s longstanding record of being the oldest winner in Monster Energy Supercross history. Brayton is just three days shy of turning 34 years old.


Although he missed out on the win, Tomac left Daytona with his head held high following what was the most impressive comeback performance in recent memory. Moreover, Tomac gained valuable ground his continued fight back up the championship standings. He remains fifth, and now faces a 63-point deficit to Anderson.


Webb’s recent run of strong performances continued as well, as he secured his first podium finish of the season to put a pair of Monster Energy athletes on the box. The sophomore rider is showing more improvement with each passing week, and is poised to make a serious run at victory before the season ends.


The third Monster Energy rider in the field, Tyler Bowers, recorded his third straight 14th-place finish for Monster Energy Kawasaki, equaling his season-best result.


450SX Class Results

1. Justin Brayton, Honda

2. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

3. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

4. Christian Craig, Honda

5. Marvin Musquin, KTM

14. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki


450SX Class Standings

1. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna – 223

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 183

3. Justin Brayton, Honda – 170

4. Blake Baggett , KTM – 164

5. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 160

7. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 146

10. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 113

13. Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 83 

17. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 69

On the heels of back-to-back wins, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner was the hottest rider in the East Region Championship heading into Daytona. Forkner sat just two points out of the points lead entering Saturday’s race, and he left Daytona with a share of the red plate for the first time in his young career.


While a third-straight win wasn’t in the cards for Forkner, he still put his Kawasaki on the podium for the third time in four races. The Missourian rode to an uneventful third-place finish in his heat race, following his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Martin Davalos, and knew he would have his work cut out for him in the grueling Main Event.


Forkner’s first Daytona Supercross Main Event began with a much-needed strong start, slotting into third. After an early battle for the position with Sean Cantrell, Forkner asserted himself in third and made a push to challenge Jeremy Martin in second.  Over the course of the next several laps the momentum between Forkner and Martin would ebb and flow, and as the leaders encountered lapped traffic, it became that much tougher for Forkner to gain significant ground. Soon enough, he settled into a pace that ensured his place on the podium.


While Forkner was in the midst of a smooth and solid Main Event outing, point leader Zach Osborne was scrambling to keep his hold of the red plate. Osborne got a terrible start and was outside the top 10 to start the Main Event. To his credit, Osborne possesses an innate ability to fight through the field, and he methodically made a march all the way into the top five. 


Osborne’s first battle once in the top five was with Davalos for fourth. The veteran had paced his teammate throughout the majority of the race, and put forth a tough fight with Osborne for the spot before he dropped to fifth on Lap 7. Osborne laid it all on the line in an effort to catch Forkner for third, but it was futile.


The win went to Jordon Smith, who grabbed the holeshot and led every lap en route to his first win of the 2018 season, followed by Martin in second. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki duo of Forkner and Davalos sandwiched Osborne, with the Monster Claw represented in third and fifth, respectively.


Forkner and Osborne now sit knotted atop the East Region standings, with Forkner holding the edge by virtue of his class-leading two wins. Davalos moved up to eighth.


The Monster Energy duo of Colt Nichols and Dylan Ferrandis were both forced to miss Daytona and brought a heartbreaking end to their respective seasons for Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha. Nichols will be sidelined for the remainder of supercross with a broken arm suffered mere days before Daytona, while Ferrandis will also be out of action after suffering multiple injuries, including a broken arm, in Atlanta last week.


East Region 250SX Class Results

1. Jordon Smith, KTM

2. Jeremy Martin, Honda

3. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki 

4. Zach Osborne, Husqvarna

5. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki


East Regional 250SX Class Standings

1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 89

2. Zach Osborne, Husqvarna – 89 

3. Jordon Smith, KTM – 81 

4. Jeremy Martin, Honda – 70

7. Colt Nichols, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 54 

8. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 52

13. Dylan Ferrandis, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 34