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Image from the 2018 Supercross final in Las Vegas, NV
NEWS

Monster Finish in Sin City

May 062018

After 17 grueling rounds of fierce and dramatic competition the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross season came to a close on Saturday night in Las Vegas, in what proved to be a memorable night for Monster Energy. The Monster Army took the checkered flag with dominant victories in both the 450SX Class and 250SX East/West Showdown, and captured the 250SX West Region title to put a finishing touch on the night.

In the premier 450SX Class it was no surprise to see Eli Tomac in a class of his own. The Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had consistently been the fastest rider in the division on a weekly basis, but an early shoulder injury and some heartbreaking moments ultimately took him out of title contention. Nevertheless, Tomac attacked each weekend with the same relentless determination and ended up grabbing a series-leading eight wins. His performance in Vegas was undoubtedly one of the most convincing, as he raced to the holeshot and carried on to a wire-to-wire win.

As one of the few combined regional races of the season, the 250SX East/West Showdown is always full of tension and it was no different this time around. With his hopes of a first-career title still within reach, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Adam Cianciarulo came into the finale looking to make a statement, and he did just that. The Florida native successfully worked through the pack to seize control of the lead, and went on to win his second consecutive Las Vegas shootout. While Cianciarulo did everything he needed to do, his Monster Energy counterpart Aaron Plessinger responded by doing just enough. Despite a season-worst eighth-place finish, the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha rider still emerged with his first professional title as West Region Champion.

450SX Class

 

After posting the second-fastest lap of practice Tomac entered the night show ready to do work on a slick and highly technical track inside Sam Boyd Stadium. Typically known to be one of the fastest layouts of the season, the 2018 Vegas track was littered with rhythm lanes and lengthy sand section that dramatically slowed the pace and provided tighter competition.

 

In his heat race Tomac was forced to stalk future hall of famer Chad Reed, but he eventually made his way around and into the lead and quickly pulled away for an easy win. When the gate dropped on the Main Event Tomac got his Kawasaki into the first turn with a hold of the inside line, which allowed him to grab the holeshot and jump out to the early lead. Tomac’s rival Marvin Musquin settled into second and gave chase.

 

Tomac set a torrid pace out front, but the Frenchman successfully matched his lap times to keep the deficit to no more than a second. Anytime Tomac pulled away, Musquinwould close the deficit within a couple laps. Given the recent history between the duo, notably a controversial last-lap incident two rounds prior in which Musquin took out Tomac, the crowd could sense the potential of some fireworks.  Despite being able to close to within less than a bike length on Tomac, Musquin was never able to attempt a pass, possibly in fear of retaliation from Tomac. After all,Musquin entered the night with much more to lose than Tomac as he was still in the title fight, so any incident at the front of the field would prove costly, and given Tomac’sstone cold resolve he wasn’t going to go down without a serious fight.

 

The scope of the Main Event turned as the leaders began to lap riders. Tomac was extremely efficient navigating through the backmarkers, often leaving Musquin in precarious spots that forced him to lose valuable time. As the race wore on, Tomac’s pace never let up and soon enough he was multiple seconds out front. He cruised over the closing laps and took the win just over four seconds ahead of Musquin.

 

It was the 21st career 450SX Class win for Tomac, who has won half of the races the past two seasons (17). He’s been the winningest rider in supercross for two consecutive years, but that success has been bittersweet without a title to his name.

 

“The only thing you can do is not make those mistakes. I started it with (a mistake) at Anaheim 1, and it cost me. I was down 50 points right off the bat, so at that point in this series with the caliber of riders, if you do that you’re pretty much out of it. That was the start of it. Once again we got a lot of wins, but I have to fix those mistakes if we want to hold that big trophy (for the championship).”

 

Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia finished ninth to put a pair of Monster Energy riders inside the top 10, while Josh Hill (Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing) and Tyler Bowers (Monster Energy Kawasaki) finished in 19th and 20th, respectively.

 

Tomac ended the season third in the final championship standings, 38 points behind champion Jason Anderson.

250SX East/West Showdown

 

Cianciarulo’s winning night began with an impressive effort in timed qualifying, where he not only paced both the West and East time sheets, but also posted the fourth fastest lap of the entire afternoon, across both classes. Cianciarulo knew he had to bring it if there was any hope of challenging Plessinger for the title, and there wasn’t a better way to make an early statement than to lay down a blistering time. Monster Energy riders occupied the top three spots in West Region qualifying, with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy in second andPlessinger in third.

 

In the West Region heat, Savatgy and Cianciarulo battled it out for the lead, showing no hesitation going bar to bar. They jockeyed back and forth for a while, but Savatgy soon gained the upper hand. Savatgy successfully held on to take the heat win, with Cianciarulo right behind in second.Plessinger rode to an uneventful fourth-place finish.

 

When the gate dropped for the dual-region Main Event Savatgy was in position to claim the holeshot, but was edged out by Shane McElrath. A hectic opening lap saw Savatgy lead the way for Monster Energy in third, with Cianciarulo following in fifth. Plessinger didn’t get the start he’d hoped for and had his work cut out for him after rounding in 11th.

 

McElrath showed a lot of pace at the front of the field, but Cianciarulo was the rider on the move. He took over fourth on Lap 2 and then surged past Savatgy for third the following lap. At this point just a few bike lengths separated the top three, with Cianciarulo sitting pretty in third. He watched as McElrath and Jeremy Martin battled for the position and took advantage of it at the halfway point of the race, vaulting from third to first on Lap 7. Once he took over the lead Cianciarulo never looked back.

 

With his move to the front, Cianciarulo put the pressure onPlessinger to defend his quickly dwindling points lead.Plessinger eventually battled his way into eighth but almost threw everything away in the sand section when he rear end stepped out. The Yamaha rider nearly went down but somehow saved it without dropping a position. With East Region point leader Zach Osborne right ahead, Plessingerheld on to a slim two-point lead in the championship. Fortunately for Plessinger that was enough as he was unable to gain anymore positions.

 

Cianciarulo stormed to his first win of the season, his second straight in Las Vegas and the sixth of his career, crossing the line just under three seconds ahead of Jordon Smith. Savatgy made a last-lap pass on Martin to claim fourth, while Plessinger soldiered home in a distant eighth.

 

For the second straight season Cianciarulo’s Vegas triumph left him two points shy of a title, but given the physical adversity he’s faced all season it was good to end the season in such a strong way.

 

“I’ve actually been riding with a torn ACL in my left knee for a little bit more than year now. Just to kind of overcome that and get a win, actually it’s funny. I sprained my ankle in practice and it’s on the other side, so I was thinking to myself that maybe it balanced me out! Maybe that’s what I was missing! It was just a heck of a way to end the year.”

 

Plessinger endured through arguably his worst Main Event of the season, but his championship-leading four wins carried him to the title. He made his night even more memorable by getting engaged to his girlfriend on the podium.

 

“It honestly doesn’t feel real. I don’t even know what to say. It was a gnarly race and a gnarly season. These guys are riding outstanding, but I pushed through it and got through the whole season. I’ve got a great team behind me and they push me 100 percent every week.”

 

Savatgy’s fourth-place finish helped move him into a tie for third in the final West Region standings.

450SX Class Results

1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM

3. Blake Baggett, KTM

4. Christian Craig, Honda

5. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna

9. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

19. Josh Hill, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

20. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki

 

450SX Class Standings

1. Jason Anderson, Husqvarna – 356

2. Marvin Musquin, KTM – 347

3. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 318

4. Blake Baggett , KTM – 285

5. Justin Brayton, Honda – 275

9. Cooper Webb, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 181

10. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing – 177

14. Tyler Bowers, Monster Energy Kawasaki –149

20. Josh Grant, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 83

 

250SX East/West Showdown Results

1. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

2. Jordon Smith, KTM

3. Shane McElrath, KTM

4. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki

5. Jeremy Martin, Honda

8. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha

DNS Thomas Ramette, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha

 

West Region 250SX Class Standings

1. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 211

2. Adam Cianciarulo, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 209

3. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 193

4. Shane McElrath, KTM – 193

5. Chase Sexton, Honda – 167

13. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 75

26. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 14

 

East Region 250SX Class Standings

1. Zach Osborne, Husqvarna – 196

2. Jordon Smith, KTM – 188

3. Jeremy Martin, Honda – 175

4. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 137

5. Luke Renzland, Yamaha

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

14. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki – 53

19. Thomas Ramette, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 44

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

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