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Monster athletes compete in Round 10 of the 2019 Supercross season in Daytona

Monster Energy Supercross Dominance in Daytona

Mar 102019

Daytona. Legendary Daytona International Speedway is arguably the most hallowed grounds in all of American motorsports, and the Daytona Supercross has been one of the core events of the sport for well over 40 years. The historic race sits at the heart of every Monster Energy Supercross season, and often provides an opportunity for shakeup in the championship.

To win at Daytona is huge for any rider, but for Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac it’s become a bit of a habit. The Colorado native thrives on the one-of-a-kind infield circuit, where its motocross tendencies lend well to Tomac’s aggressive nature on the bike. It’s rough, it’s grueling, and more often than not those conditions play right into Tomac’s hands.

On Saturday night, under the bright lights of the world’s most famous tri-oval, Tomac captured his third Daytona Supercross victory. The Kawasaki rider has won half of his six career starts at the speedway, and has never failed to finish outside the top five. That worst finish, a fourth, came when Tomac was still competing full time in the 250SX Class in 2013, but ever since, he’s finished first or second.

As has been the case throughout the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross season, Tomac’s path to victory came as a direct result of a strong start. The ability to get out of the gate has been the deciding factor of Tomac’s success this season, more often than not. After starting second, Tomac moved into the top spot on Lap 3 and proceeded to leave the field in his wake.

"The last half [of the race] was effortless. I just got the flow and that's so important at this track. It just started coming to me. Win number three here…this is so cool at Daytona."

While he does have three wins to his credit this season, the second most in the 450SX Class, Tomac also has one finish outside the top 10 and three outside the top five. The competition in the premier division has been exceptionally tight this season, and consistency is proving to be a crucial part of how this championship unfolds.

Daytona proved to be the latest instance of the dominance Tomac has enjoyed in supercross the past three seasons, but he’ll need to use this victory as a momentum starter if he’s to close the deficit he faces in the championship standings.

450SX Class

The day didn’t start off as smoothly as Tomac would have liked, where he was uncharacteristically low on the time sheets in qualifying. While the fourth-quickest time out of 55 riders is nothing to slouch at, it’s simply below the standard Tomac usually sets for himself and likely gave he and the Monster Energy Kawasaki team added motivation as they headed to the night show. He sill led the way for Monster Energy, with his Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Joey Savatgy seventh and Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger 10th.

Tomac’s focus was on point in the first Heat Race, where he pulled a good launch on the short start straight and surged into the lead. The clear track proved to be the only advantage Tomac needed as he easily put some distance between he and Ken Roczen and led every lap en route to the Heat Race win. Plessinger also secured his transfer into the Main Event with a seventh-place finish.

Savatgy carried the Monster Energy flag in Heat Race 2, where he started third and stayed in the mix throughout. Savatgy went bar-to-bar with the likes of Blake Baggett and Cooper Webb, and made a last-corner pass on early leader Cole Seely to secure a solid gate pick for the Main Event.

The energy was buzzing when the gate dropped on the 450SX Class Main Event, where Baggett got the jump and seized the early lead over Tomac. As he gave chase for the top spot, Tomac missed hitting the fastest sequence through a rhythm lane, which allowed Marvin Musquin to slip by and drop Tomac to third. That then put Savatgy right on the rear fender of his teammate. Behind them, Plessinger was surging forward from a 10th-place start.

Soon Musquin and Baggett began a fight for the lead, which allowed Tomac to ride patient and pick his time to strike. He reclaimed second from Musquin on Lap 3 and kept the attack going until he got around Baggett as well. The KTM rider fought back and briefly reclaimed the lead, but Tomac was relentless and wrestled control back from his rival. Once he was clear of the fray, Tomac was able to lay down quick laps times to immediately move multiple seconds ahead of the field. That’s the last anyone would see of the No. 3.

While Tomac ran away, Savatgy stayed in the thick of a spirited battle amongst the top five. He kept pace with Webb and got around Musquin after the Frenchman went off track, keeping a podium within reach. As the race wore on, Savatgy lost fourth to Musquin, but successfully settled into a consistent pace while running fifth. 

The third member of the Monster squad, Plessinger, unfortunately saw his race come to a heartbreaking conclusion on Lap 5. While battling with Chad Reed, Plessinger came up short on a jump sequence and was forced to ditch his bike mid air. He landed feet first into the next jump and quickly got himself off the track. The rookie requested medical attention and was clearly favoring his right leg. It was later revealed that he had suffered a broken heel.

Tomac opened up a near double-digit lead over the field before backing things down in the closing laps. He took the checkered flag 6.8 seconds ahead of Webb, with Musquin third. Savatgy held onto for a solid fifth-place finish.

The win vaulted Tomac up to second in the 450SX Class standings, where he sits 19 points behind Webb. Savatgy successfully broke into the top 10 in points, currently sitting ninth.

450SX Class Results
1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki
2. Cooper Webb, KTM
3. Marvin Musquin, KTM
4 Blake Baggett, KTM
5. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki
22. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

450SX Class Standings
1. Cooper Webb, KTM - 222
2. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 203
3. Marvin Musquin, KTM - 203
4. Ken Roczen, Honda - 201
5. Blake Baggett, KTM - 161
9. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 124
10. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 123
11.  Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 120

East Region 250SX Class

Through the first three rounds of the East Region Championship it was all Austin Forkner. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider has been a clear step ahead of all his rivals in the East Region, compiling a near-perfect record. While he was forced to settle for something other than a win for the first time at last weekend’s East/West Showdown, its been smooth sailing against his regional counterparts.

At Daytona, Forkner kept the dominance going with yet another exceptional ride, grabbing what could be the biggest win to date in his young career. The afternoon got underway with a strong start in qualifying, where he missed out on the top spot my mere hundredths of a second. In addition to Forkner, a pair of fellow Monster Energy riders earned a spot in the top five, with the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha duo of Justin Cooper and Mitchell Oldenburg in third and fourth, respectively. Forkner’s Monster Enegry/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate Martin Davalos put all four Monster riders in the top 10 in seventh.

Forkner and Oldenburg were featured in the first Heat Race, where Forkner got the start and absolutely checked out on the field. Forkner’s lap times were considerably faster than the rest of the riders, and in just the short distance of the Heat Race he was able to take checkered flag 17.6 seconds ahead of second. Oldenburg followed in a strong third.

The second Heat Race included Cooper and Davalos, where the Yamaha rider shined to take an impressive win. After starting second, the second-year rider was aggressive in pursuit of the lead and took over control of the race on the first lap. Once out front, he pulled away and took the checkered flag 7.4 seconds ahead of second. Davalos recovered from near disaster early on to overcome a 15th-place start and earn a transfer to the Main Event in fifth.

When the gate dropped on the Main Event, Forkner put himself out front and entered the sand section in the lead, but as he slid coming out of the turn it allowed Kyle Peters to take the lead while Cooper took over second. Forkner was third and went to work on Cooper right away. A bobble by Cooper gave Forkner second, where he then set his sights on the lead.

Forkner gave chase and was able to surge past Peters in the whoops to take the lead on Lap 2. As soon as he was clear, Forkner easily gapped the field and never looked back. Behind him, the top portion of the field was littered with Monster riders, with Cooper, Davalos, and Oldenburg all fighting for a spot in the top five.

As the race wore on, Forkner was in class of his own. Eventually, Cooper settled into third behind Chase Sexton, with Oldenburg and Davalos right behind in fourth and fifth. Three Monster riders stayed in the top four through the remainder of the race, while Davalos experienced misfortune as he looked to keep pace and lost several positions.

Forkner took his fourth win of the season by 5.9 seconds over the field. 

"It was tough. Just not making mistakes was one of the biggest things; I honestly didn't feel like I was going super fast. Just every rhythm, every jump, every lap was just perfect - that was the key tonight, I feel."

Cooper helped put two Monster Energy riders on the podium for the ninth time in 10 races. Oldenburg earned his best result of the season in fourth. Davalos soldiered home to a 10th-place finish.

Forkner now holds a commanding 23-point lead in the East Region Championship of Cooper, who sits second. Davalos and Oldenburg both sit in the top 10 as well, in fifth and eighth, respectively.

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki
2. Chase Sexton, Honda
3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha
4. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha
10. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Standings
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 125
2. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 102
3. Chase Sexton, Honda - 102
4. Alex Martin, Suzuki - 78
5. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 71
8. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 69