It’s crunch time in Monster Energy Supercross. A grueling winter season is nearing completion, and the world’s best riders made their final eastward journey this past weekend in East Rutherford. MetLife Stadium has been the site of some incredible and wild races since it debuted on the championship schedule in 2014, and tensions were high for the penultimate stop of the 2019 season.
In the 450SX Class, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac brought back-to-back wins into the New York area. The hottest rider in supercross was hitting his stride at the right time, doing everything he could to close the deficit in the title fight. A third consecutive victory for Tomac would not only allow him to gain more ground, but it would also put even more pressure on point leader Cooper Webb.
As expected, Tomac put himself in a winning position in the Main Event. A good start put him in the hunt for the lead, where he was able to stalk Webb for first place for several laps. Tomac soon made his move and then strategically looked to control the pace out front, where he hoped to bunch the leaders together and potentially cause Webb to lose more positions.
The track inside MetLife Stadium was one of the most technical and challenging of the season, and as the race wore on Tomac found himself with a relatively comfortable lead. Unfortunately, a miscue in the whoops put the Kawasaki rider on the ground and dropped him off the podium in fourth. He quickly remounted and put on a charge for the remainder of the Main Event. A race win was still within reach as Tomac stormed past Blake Baggett and Zach Osborne to move into second, where he was by far the fastest rider on the track. However, in his push to track down the lead Tomac suffered the same exact hiccup, which ultimately left him to settle for a hard-to-swallow third-place finish.
"That was something else, you know. I somehow managed to do that exact same move twice during that race. Just jumped in the rut there, as I was watching on the replay, my weight was too far right both times when I landed in the rut and then the notches got me, and I go into the same exact Tuff Blox. So disappointing… I could maybe get away with one of those, but both wasn't gonna do it tonight. So, just giving everything I had. I mean, that's all I could do, right? Trying to stay in the front but a couple of mistakes got me... that was tough... That was my whole goal to keep this [title fight going] to the next race and we did that.”
While the odds are stacked against Tomac entering the season finale in Las Vegas, there is still a shot at the one title that has eluded the world’s fastest rider. All bets are off, and Tomac knows there’s only one thing left for him to do in Sin City.
“It’s not over, that’s why we line up each week; so we’ll head to Vegas next week and I’ll continue to give it my best effort.”
In the 250SX East Region, all eyes were on championship leader Austin Forkner. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider had been in a class of his own all season on the east coast, but a crash at the previous round in Nashville had left him on the mend with a major knee injury, and a slim point lead. There was no doubt that Forkner was going to line up in East Rutherford, regardless of the pain he was in, and his resiliency was nothing short of impressive.
Things were working out as well as they could in the Main Event and Forkner was in control of his own destiny, sitting ahead of primary championship rival Chase Sexton. Unfortunately, a slight, otherwise harmless bobble put too much pressure on Forkner’s knee and forced him out of the race. It also signaled what will likely be a heartbreaking end to his championship hopes. In his absence, Monster Energy riders Martin Davalos, Mitchell Oldenburg and Justin Cooper put the pressure on Sexton. While the trio came up just short of adding another win to Monster’s haul this season, the Monster Energy/Star/Yamaha Racing teammates of Oldenburg and Cooper landed on the podium.