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Images from the Monster Energy Supercross event at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN
NEWS

Perfect Debut from Music City

Apr 072019

For the first time ever Nashville welcomed the roar of Monster Energy Supercross, and fittingly enough, the world’s best riders put on a memorable, high-flying showcase in “Music City.” The debut inside Nissan Stadium ultimately turned into a night of celebration for Monster Energy, as Eli Tomac and Martin Davalos swept the night’s Main Event victories.

It’s been an up and down season for Tomac, at least by his exceptional standards, but despite that the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider had still amassed a trio of wins entering Nashville and still remained the hunt for the championship. Starts have been arguably the most challenging aspect of Tomac’s success, almost serving as a make-or-break circumstance each and every time the gate dropped. However, the Eli Tomac that had stormed to victory in exactly half of the races over the past two seasons returned with a vengeance in Music City and took no prisoners en route to an emphatic and dominant fourth win this season.

To make the triumphant ride even sweeter, Tomac had to overcome adversity in his Heat Race, survive a trip to the LCQ, and fight his way forward from a start outside the top 10 in the Main Event. While no rider would ever choose this path to victory, it had to be one of the more rewarding wins for Tomac in recent memory. He was the heavy favorite to win his first 450SX Class title this season, but fortunes simply haven’t gone his way. Nevertheless, he’s persevered to have the second-most wins in the division and now sits 21 points out of the championship lead with three rounds to go.

"It was a tough day, not going to lie. I struggled all day, to be honest. I am just happy to be up here. I was terrible in the whoops and that was this racetrack. I think as everyone can see I was a fish out of water in those things; I am going to get to work on that this week, it's ridiculous. We are going to get better and just keep plugging away."

No sport is as unpredictable as Monster Energy Supercross, and every rider is only as good as his last race. That bodes well for Tomac as the season draws to its conclusion. While he’s still got work to do, nothing provides a jolt of confidence quite like winning, and there couldn’t be a more opportune time than now for Tomac to string together a few victories.

In the 250SX East Region, things looked glum before the night show even began. Austin Forkner had been the dominant force of the right coast, compiling an undefeated record in East Region races, but a crash in qualifying left him sidelined for the night. However, in Forkner’s absence his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki teammate stepped up to the plate. Davalos has more laps under his belt than any other rider in the division, and it showed in Nashville. The veteran from Ecuador hasn’t been 100% healthy in 2019, but he’s continued to fight through discomfort and push himself each and every week. That patience and resiliency paid off in a big way in Nashville, and Davalos broke through for his first win since 2016.

"It has been a struggle, and a struggle, and a struggle to get back to where I belong. To be honest with you, I am capable of so much more. I have a lot of issues with my neck. I was put to sleep last Friday to deal with this issue and this was a huge win for me; I have not rode supercross since Indianapolis. I have been taking care of my neck... but this win, the whole team deserves it".

450SX Class

 

As he suggested, a win didn’t seem like it was in the cards for Tomac from the get go in Nashville. He experienced one of his worst practice and qualifying sessions of the season, posting just the sixth-fastest lap of the afternoon. Instead it was his rookie Monster Energy Kawasaki teammate Joey Savatgy who led the way for the Monster effort in fifth, while the Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing duo of Justin Barcia and Josh Grant landed in 14th and 15th, respectively.

 

In the first Heat Race of the night, both Tomac and Savatgy found their way to the front, but it was here where things only got rougher for Tomac. He grabbed the lead out of the gate and appeared to be on his way to the checkered flag, but his bike unexpectedly lost power and was forced to retire from the race. That opened up the opportunity for Savatgy to fill the void out front and he did just that, seizing control of the Heat in the closing stages to take the win by 4.4 seconds. Barcia secured his spot in the Main Event as well with a fifth-place finish. Tomac and his team began their prep for the LCQ.

 

Grant was the lone Monster Energy rider in the second Heat, and he also punched his ticket to the Main Event with a solid sixth-place finish.

 

In the LCQ, Tomac didn’t quite get the start he had hoped for, but he was solidly inside the top four transfer spots in third and quickly pushed his way into the lead on Lap 2. From there he checked out and took the win, moving on to the Main Event with eight more laps under his belt.

 

As the 22-rider field stormed into the first turn to start the 450SX Class Main Event it was point leader Cooper Webb who emerged with the holeshot and early lead, with Savatgy just a couple spots back in third. He easily earned the best start of the Monster lineup, with Barcia just inside the top 10 in ninth, followed by Tomac and Grant in 12th and 13th, respectively.

 

Savatgy’s march forward carried him into second after just one lap, while Tomac was able to surge all the way up to sixth after just a couple laps. Both Barcia and Grant settled into positions inside the top 10 as well. 

 

As he chased down the lead, Savatgy tucked the front end and went down. He appeared to bang himself up in the incident and was forced to retire. Soon enough, Tomac found himself on the verge of a spot on the podium, which he successfully took on Lap 6. He moved into second on the following lap and proceeded to blow by Webb for the lead one lap after that. Less than halfway through the Main Event, Tomac worked his way from 12th to first. Once he had a clear track he was able to leave the field behind, eventually building a double-digit lead.

 

Tomac took a convincing win, the 24th of his career, by 11.6 seconds over Blake Baggett, while Webb finished third. Tomac gained five very valuable points on the championship lead with the win, and can still put the pressure on Webb if he continues to ride at this level.

 

“Man, what a day today was! It was up and down all day long. Being in the lead in the Heat Race and then getting sent to the LCQ was not something I wanted to do, but to come back and win the LCQ and then go on to win the Main Event was just insane. It has honestly left me speechless.”

 

Tomac moved into a tie for second in the championship standings, and now sits 21 points out of the lead with three races left.

 

450SX Class Results

Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki

Blake Baggett, KTM

Cooper Webb, KTM

Dean Wilson, Husqvarna

Zach Osborne, Husqvarna

Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

Josh Grant, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing

Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki

 

450SX Class Standings

Cooper Webb, KTM - 309

Eli Tomac, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 288

Marvin Musquin, KTM - 288

Ken Roczen, Honda - 267

Blake Baggett, KTM - 238

Joey Savatgy, Monster Energy Kawasaki - 174

Justin Barcia, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 154

Aaron Plessinger, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 123

Josh Grant, Monster Energy/Yamaha Factory Racing - 5

250SX East Region

 

As expected, Forkner was the class of the field aboard his Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki and he appeared to be well on his way to being fastest qualifier until his scary get off. He attempted to ride through the pain but aggravated things more and called it an afternoon. Forkner’s left leg appeared to be the point of concern to keep him out of action for the night, which all but guaranteed that his 26-point lead in the championship standings was going to take a significant hit. Davalos ultimately led the way for Monster Energy with the second-fastest time, with Forkner third and the Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha tandem of Justin Cooper and Mitchell Oldenburg both in the top five as well.

 

Davalos and Cooper were featured in the first Heat Race, where Davalos continued to build his run toward a Main Event win with an impressive performance. He seized the moment out the gate and went on to a wire-to-wire Heat Race win where he was never challenged, crossing the line 7.2 seconds ahead of the field. Cooper wasn’t far behind in third.

 

Oldenburg was the lone Monster rider in the second Heat Race, where he overcame an eighth-place start to fight all the way up to third.

 

It was all Monster Energy out of the gate to start the Main Event, with Cooper capturing the holeshot just ahead of Oldenburg. Davalos was right behind the lead group in fourth and rode aggressively on the opening lap to take third from Oldenburg and position himself behind Cooper and Chase Sexton.

 

Sexton was able to get around Cooper but the Yamaha rider fought back. As he attempted to reclaim the lead, the two riders came together and both fell onto the dirt. That opened the door for Davalos to assume the lead, and from there he pulled away. Cooper was able to remount quickly and returned to action in eighth. Oldenburg also experience misfortune on the opening lap and fell to the tail end of the 22-rider field.

 

Davalos was in a class of his own out front and it didn’t take long until he was all by himself, on cruise control to the win. Cooper was able to rebound from his early trouble and climb back up the running order, following Sexton to the front. In the waning stages of the Main Event, Cooper made his way back into a podium spot while Oldenburg got to the verge of a spot in the top five.

 

Davalos rode to one of his easiest wins by 3.5 seconds over Sexton, with Cooper right behind in third. Oldenburg battled back to sixth. It’s the fifth win of Davalos’ career and maintained Pro Circuit’s undefeated record in the East Region. It also extended Monster Energy’s 250SX Class win streak, which now sits at 11 races. In fact, the Monster Army has taken the top step of the podium in 13 of 14 races this season.

 

“I’ve been going through a lot these past few weeks trying to get some answers on why I’ve still been in pain in my neck and we were able to make some progress since Indy. Even though I still have a ways to go, it helped just enough to keep me competitive and get the win. I am really happy to be back on top, especially after a tough day for the team. I’m looking forward to a few more weeks off before finishing out the season.”

 

Despite missing the action in Nashville, Forkner still sits atop the championship standings with a three-point lead over Sexton and a seven-point advantage over Cooper. He’ll have a couple weeks to get some much-needed rest before the East Region returns in East Rutherford. The win moved Davalos up to fourth in points, while Oldenburg sits in a tie for fifth.

 

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Results

Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki 

Chase Sexton, Honda 

Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha 

Kyle Peters, Suzuki

Brandon Hartranft, Yamaha

Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha

 

Eastern Regional 250SX Class Standings

Austin Forkner, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 151

Chase Sexton, Honda - 148

Justin Cooper, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 144

Martin Davalos, Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki - 115

Mitchell Oldenburg, Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star/Yamaha - 105

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