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Another fantastic night of racing took place on Saturday at round eight of Monster Energy AMA Supercross in Detroit.
NEWS

MOTOWN MUSCLE

Feb 242019

Since being introduced last season, Triple Crown rounds of Monster Energy Supercross have become some of the most captivating and unpredictable races of the championship. The trio of Main Events, each progressively longer than the next, have heightened tension as time and track position play an integral role in determining which rider emerges with the overall. As a result, riders are considerably more aggressive, and the ability to grab a start can make or break any hopes of victory.

The Monster Energy duo of Eli Tomac and Austin Forkner established themselves as the fastest riders of the day inside Detroit’s Ford Field, and they both capitalized on that speed to emerge triumphant at the end of the night. Tomac enjoyed his best performance of 2019 to assertively grab the first two Main Events aboard his Monster Energy Kawasaki, putting him in prime position for the deciding race. While things started poorly, Tomac successfully battled through adversity in the final sprint to protect his lead and walk away with his second win of the season.

"Just being comfy, and just riding more effortlessly. It's a combination of a few things, but I just feel one hundred percent better this weekend. I felt really good again, like I'm moving around so much better to get to my lines. It's just fun riding on my dirt bike.”

For Forkner, it was more of the same dominance that has been the trademark of his 2019 Eastern Regional campaign thus far. The Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki rider led all but one lap of action in Detroit and convincingly swept all three Main Events to keep his undefeated record intact.

"My starts were dialed all night. The last start was the best one I had, and I knew I had it like five feet out of the gate, it was just such a good jump. My bike is the best it's been this year as far as fast [and] handling, it's just the complete package right now it makes my life easier. So, if I can just get a start like that, after how the first couple races went, I was pumped and I didn't think anybody would catch me.” 

It’s the third time during the 2019 Monster Energy Supercross season that Monster Energy has swept the 450SX and 250SX classes, further continuing what has been a dominant campaign thus far. This control has been on display particularly in the 250SX Class, where Monster Energy riders sit in full control of the championship in both regions.

450SX Class

Tomac’s speed was on display immediately in timed qualifying, where it was clearly evident that the Kawasaki rider we’ve been accustomed to seeing the past two seasons had returned to form. The track inside Ford Field seemed to cater perfectly to Tomac’s style, and he was brimming with confidence entering the Main Events. In addition to Tomac, his rookie Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Joey Savatgy continued to impress with the fourth-fastest lap of the afternoon. Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Justin Barcia was eighth, while his rookie teammate Aaron Plessinger was just outside the top 10 in 11th.

After the first gate drop of the night it was Justin Brayton who surged into the lead, while Tomac was nowhere to be found outside the top 10. Barcia led the way for Monster Energy by starting fifth, with Plessinger and Savatgy sandwiching Tomac in the fight for a spot in the top 10.

Brayton’s early pace allowed him to establish a comfortable lead out front, while all eyes started to focus on Tomac and his mounting charge through the field. He quickly moved into the top 10 and continued to pick off riders before breaking into the top five right about the halfway point. Along the way he surpassed Barcia, who had spent the majority of the Main Event up to that point inside the top four. As time wound down, Tomac picked up the pace even more and soon broke into the top three. He had both Brayton and second-place runner Chad Reed in his sights and made quick work of Reed to move into second. He showed some patience in his attack on Brayton for the lead, but easily took control of the Main Event right before time expired.

Tomac took the opening Main Event win by 2.3 seconds over Brayton, with Reed in third. Savatgy battled his way into eighth, while Barcia held on for 10th. Plessinger followed just a couple spots behind in 12th.

With a win under his belt, Tomac made life much easier on himself in the second Main Event, starting inside the top three behind championship leader Cooper Webb and Savatgy. The Monster Energy duo put heavy pressure on Webb, and Tomac was able to pass both riders over subsequent laps to seize control of the race on Lap 5. Once in front, the Kawasaki rider left the field in his wake and easily captured the second Main Event win by 5.1 seconds over Webb, with Savatgy right behind in third. Barcia and Plessinger put all four Monster Energy riders in the top 10 with finishes of seventh and 10th, respectively.

With back-to-back wins Tomac sat in the catbird seat entering the third and final Main Event. He’d proven what he was capable of with an average start, so barring anything catastrophic he was poised to easily clinch the overall, but the odds of a Main Event sweep were very realistic. When the field converged into the first turn it was Blake Baggett who came out with the lead, with Savatgy and Barcia right on his rear fender. Plessinger started in eighth, while Tomac was buried in 12th. 

An aggressive Barcia stormed into second as Savatgy jockeyed for position and settled into fifth. Barcia then hounded Baggett for several laps and successfully moved into the lead on Lap 6. Behind him Tomac was dealing with his first bout of adversity after he was forced off the track and dropped back a couple additional spots. The Kawasaki rider was certainly going to need the additional time to work his way back into contention and ideally reclaim his hold of the overall classification.

That task became more immediate when Webb took over the race lead from Barcia on Lap 11. True to form, Tomac battled his way from as far down as 13th back to the cusp of the top five in seventh. As they ran, Webb and Tomac were tied for first overall, but Webb carried the tiebreaker by leading the way in the Main Event. The battle for victory shifted into Tomac’s favor when Ken Roczen and Dean Wilson came together battling a few spots ahead. Wilson went down and lost several spots, and it moved Tomac up into sixth, good enough the clinch the overall.

With the win in hand, Tomac didn’t force the issue over the waning laps of the race. Webb carried on to take the win, followed by Baggett and Barcia. Tomac claimed sixth, with Plessinger eighth and Savatgy 11th.

Tomac’s fondness of Triple Crown competition carried him to his second win of the season, edging out Webb by a single point. Veteran Chad Reed rounded out the podium in third. Barcia’s stellar effort in the final Main Event moved him up to seventh overall, followed by Savatgy in eighth. Plessinger finished in 12th.

"What really got me in that [final] moto was when I went off the track, like on lap two or three. I almost clipped the tuff blox and had to go around this double. It shuffled me back. I mean, I was back in the beginning, but that really put me in the pressure cooker there and I was like, 'Am I really doing this right now?' So I got my head back in it and made the charge back. I was watching the points gap, and [mechanic] Brian Krantz was doing a good job of giving me the position in that situation. I used up my whole cushion but it paid off. We're at such a better spot than we were and just felt more 'me' tonight."

The victory provided a much-needed rebound for Tomac, who finished outside the top 10 the previous week, and helped regain valuable points in the championship. He remains fourth in the standings, 13 points out of the lead. Barcia sits sixth, with Plessinger in ninth. Savatgy continues his comeback through the standings, now in 12th.

450SX Class Results
1. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki (1-1-6)
2. Cooper Webb, KTM (6-2-1)
3. Chad Reed, Suzuki (3-5-7)
4. Ken Roczen, Honda (5-6-5)
5. Blake Baggett, KTM (4-11-2)
7. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (10-7-3)
8. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki (8-3-11)
12. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing (12-10-8)

450SX Class Standings
1. Cooper Webb, KTM - 173
2. Ken Roczen, Honda - 167
3. Marvin Musquin, KTM - 161
4. Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki – 160
5. Dean Wilson, Husqvarna – 122
6. Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 120
9. Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 104
12. Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 92

Eastern Regional 250SX Class

When it comes to the races, no one has had any answer to the speed Forkner has showed thus far in 2019, and the third-year rider has been honest about the room for growth that he still has this season. In timed qualifying he was narrowly edged out by Chase Sexton, but that proved to be the only time anyone would outpace Forkner the rest of the way. Fellow Monster Energy rider Justin Cooper posted the fourth-fastest time aboard his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha, with Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki’s Martin Davalos fifth. Star Yamaha rider Mitchell Oldenburg put all four Monster Energy riders in the top 10 in seventh.

Forkner grabbed the early lead to start the opening Main Event, but a small mistake allowed Jordon Smith to sneak past. Smith successfully fended off Forkner for the opening lap, marking the first time in 2019 that someone other than Forkner led a lap of competition. Smith’s time out front was short lived as Forkner reclaimed the lead on Lap 1 and checked out on the field. He was untouchable once out front, shifting the focus to the fight of the other Monster Energy riders. Both Davalos and Cooper were fixtures inside the top 10 throughout the race, while Oldenburg fought his way forward from a 10th-place start.

Forkner laid waste to his rivals en route to an easy win in the first Main Event, crossing the line 10 seconds ahead of Smith, while Cooper came on strong in the final moment to break into third. Davalos finished fifth, with Oldenburg in sixth, giving Monster Energy a strong start to the night.

Forkner seized the moment to start the second Main Event and put his No. 24 Kawasaki into the lead immediately. Smith attempted to give chase initially, but Forkner soon put an insurmountable distance between them and continued to build on it. Davalos sat a few spots behind his teammate in fifth, while the Yamaha duo of Cooper and Oldenburg both sat inside the top 10 as well. Soon enough, all three riders were battling one another for a spot inside the top five. They ebbed and flowed for several laps, but Cooper eventually got the better of the trio.

Forkner took another easy win by 6.2 seconds over Smith, with Alex Martin third. Cooper grabbed fifth, with Oldenburg sixth and Davalos seventh.

With it all on the line for the final Main Event, Forkner stepped up and grabbed the lead one final time and quickly opened up a gap over the field. Sexton gave chase, but couldn’t keep the pace of his Kawasaki rival. Davalos started the final Main Event in third, with Oldenburg and Cooper beginning their fight in sixth and seventh, respectively.

As Forkner ran away from the field, Davalos and Cooper were engaged in a heated battle for a spot on the podium. Forkner carried on to sweep the Main Events by crossing the line 2.9 seconds ahead of Sexton. Cooper made an impressive march through the field and was able to make a last-lap pass on Smith to jump into third, while Davalos followed not far behind in fifth.

Perfection has defined Forkner’s season thus far, and he was as close to perfect as possible in Detroit by leading 41 of 42 laps of competition. Smith finished second, with Sexton third. Cooper just missed out on the podium in fourth, with Davalos in fifth. Oldenburg put all four Monster Energy riders inside the top 10 in seventh.

“That was the 'Minneapolis me' not the 'Dallas me' today. 'Dallas me' was worried a little bit too much about what was going on behind me and today I was like, 'I'm not going to do that, I'm going to get out front and I'm going to push ahead. I'm not looking back. It doesn't matter, I'm just going to ride as fast as I can and as hard as I can. Track got tough, ended up starting to jump through the whoops and I think that was key because I blitzed them the first couple of laps and I was just not comfortable with it. It would have been easy to make a mistake so I started jumping through them, got 'em down pretty good and yeah, solid race."

Forkner has established a big lead in the Eastern Regional standings, with an advantage of 13 points over Smith. Cooper sits solidly in third, just two points out of second, with Oldenburg sixth and Davalos eighth.

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (1-1-1)
2. Jordon Smith, KTM (2-2-4)
3. Chase Sexton, Honda (4-4-2)
4. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (3-5-3)
5. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki (5-7-5)
7. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha (6-6-8)

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Standings
1. Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 78
2. Jordon Smith, KTM - 65
3. Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha – 63
4. Chase Sexton, Honda - 60
6. Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 50
8. Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 43

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