450SX Class Points Lead Tied for Daytona


3/6/2020

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Last weekend’s 450SX Class main event in Atlanta at times felt like complete chaos. That’s with the exception of Ken Roczen, who was probably yawning in his helmet as he cruised to an effortless victory.

 

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A flawless ride was exactly what Roczen needed for Round 8. His rival, Eli Tomac, was on a roll heading into Atlanta, and Daytona is up next, a race Tomac is heavily favored to win. When the gate dropped in Atlanta, Roczen got the holeshot and put in lap after lap of uncontested perfection for 20 mins plus a lap. It ended up being a  very rough night for Tomac, and the momentum has swung back in Roczen’s favor. The two are now tied for the points lead, which means two red plates this weekend in Daytona. A tied championship is how the 250SX Class started the Atlanta round, with Shane McElrath and Chase Sexton even at the top of the class standings.

 

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So what is going on with Tomac? Well, his starts are far from consistent, and he’s making as many enemies as he is winning main events. It’s the latter part that is really starting to add up, as the two riders he has gunning for him--Justin Barcia and now Blake Baggett--know how to race a dirt bike.

 

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The Barcia/Tomac rivalry goes as far back as San Diego where the two came together hard after some intense racing Ever since then, they seem to find each other on the track. When they came together in Atlanta, it wasn’t just once. And in the middle of that, Barcia forced Tomac into a desperate pass attempt on Baggett which left Tomac and Baggett on the ground and allowed Barcia to finish second to Roczen. Tomac has a lot to lose in these altercations and the past rounds this season are coming back to haunt him. It’s not that he was riding dirty or overly aggressive: he probably shouldn’t have been battling for those positions to begin with. In a title chase as tight as this one with a team/rider combination as good as Tomac and Monster Energy Kawasaki are, Tomac needs to be out front at the start and limit his battles for position to an absolute minimum. Daytona is his strongest race of the season, and he needs to win it to re-establish his momentum.

 

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Quietly sneaking (as usual) into a remarkable finish was defending champ Cooper Webb. After a scary crash last weekend in Arlington, Webb was questionable for Atlanta. He qualified very carefully and rode minimally through the week. But, as expected, Cooper reminded everyone that he’s as tough as they come with a third-place finish.

 

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The nature of the sandy, long track will certainly weigh heavily on his tailbone/pelvis injury. It will be another test of how much pain he can endure while still being able to run the leader’s pace.

 

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Switching our thoughts to the 250SX East Class, we have an equally tight race for the title. Coming in with two red plates is always a good thing, but after Atlanta, Chase Sexton now has momentum on his side. He looked amazing at the Triple Crown in Arlington and was equally unflappable in Atlanta, as he seemed to move past his competition with relative ease. He proved this with both R.J. Hampshire and points co-leader Shane McElrath, no doubt taking a bit of wind out of their sails. He’ll be strong in Daytona as well and will start the weekend as the sole points leader.

 

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A congratulations is in order to the Honda Racing and Geico/Factory Connection Honda teams for their sweep of main event wins in Atlanta. It’s been a while since Honda has been able to pull that off and is rare for any other manufacturer, as well.

 

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Daytona is a race like no other. It’s evolved over the years from a daytime, motocross-style race with telephone pole whoops to a very “Supercrossy” feel night race in the more recent past. This year, track designer Ricky Carmichael went with more of an old-school vibe with long, jump-less straights that will no doubt get very chopped-up with ruts and sandy whoops, as well as sections of straight-up grass with sandy sub-surface, which will create equally unique challenges. One thing is for sure, the lap times will be more along the lines of an outdoor motocross national than that of a Supercross race! Don’t miss any of the action by checking out our Facebook page and Instagram feed for photos, as well as Live Timing and Scoring right here on www.amasupercross.com.


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