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Monster athletes at the 4th stop of Supercross season in Glendale, AZ
NEWS

Raising Arizona

Jan 272018

Monster Energy Kawasaki' Eli Tomac came up big at round four of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross Series by racing away to a clean-cut victory at Phoenix Stadium Glendale, Arizona. The triumph was Eli Tomac's second 450SX main event in a row. After going DNF and DNS to start the new season due to a big crash at the season opening Anaheim round, most thought the Colorado-born rider was out of the championship fight, but  now, however, that just might not be the case. Factoring in Tomac’s win with Justin Barcia’s spirited runner-up ride in Arizona, Ken Roczen’s third place ride, and points leader Jason Anderson’s off-song fourth, and, well, the series now looks like a wide open toss-up.

“It took me awhile to get the rhythm,” said Monster Energy/Kawasaki’s Tomac after holeshooting the race and clearing out. “We were struggling to get whole laps together in practice, we were eighth and that was an eye opener for me. Kept our heads up, never thought we were out of it. Got a good start and tried to put the laps together. Demanding track, hard to put those triple triples together. All three of us were hauling the mail.”

 

While Tomac held station up at the front, Barcia and Roczen gained speed and momentum during the second half of the main. Barcia went from nearly seven seconds back to about three, but then a few bobbles through a very difficult rhythm section let Tomac inch back ahead. Barcia really sent it on the final two laps to get close again, but Tomac had enough of a gap to control it. Barcia’s back on the podium for the third time in four races, a good rebound after last week’s run of bad starts.

 

“Yeah for sure definitely a good rebound, kind of showed that I’d be up in the top five and battling for this championship,” Barcia said after the race. “Last week was just bad starts and kind of damage control. Ken [Roczen] was putting the pressure on. Made some mistakes like that rhythm before the finish line. All-in-all happy with how the night went, just made a few mistakes.”

 

For a few laps, Bam Bam Barcia was putting the press on Tomac, then Roczen came to life and nearly caught him from third.  “I found myself in fifth or so and I had to make a couple of passes happen,” said Honda HRC’s Roczen. “The front two guys, there were going good. I’m obviously not going to inch up a second a lap. The track was more technical tonight by far—track was good and I liked it. Had fun racing too. Good rhythms and quite a few jumps out there. Towards the end we were all kind of closing up again, but I didn’t have enough speed to make it happen.”

 

The German-born former World Champion Ken Roczen started hanging it out later and this race and nearly caught Barcia, but then had two close calls in the sand section, which slowed his charge slightly. The same section also cost his teammate Cole Seely, who was flying from the back until the sand nearly bit him. Roczen started hanging it out later and this race and nearly caught Barcia, but then had two close calls in the sand section, which slowed his charge slightly. The same section also cost his teammate Cole Seely, who was flying from the back until the sand nearly caught him out.

 

Jason Anderson struggled with the whoops through most of the main and went backwards. The Husqvarna rider recovered to regain positions late. He and Musquin had a good battle for fourth and Anderson got the spot. Musquin was happy to salvage fifth with a weak shoulder. Anderson was able to pass Marvin Musquin late, but Musquin, only two weeks removed from a shoulder injury, was still happy with the fifth.

 

As racing fate would have it, the 250SX West Region race at Glendale was just as good and just as fierce. When the gate dropped into the dirt and the pack went roaring down the lengthy start straight, it was Aaron Plessinger on his Monster Energy/Yamalube/Star Racing Yamaha right up front, and the Ohioan simply  put the hammer down in racing past early leader Shane McElrath to get into the first place position and pull away to his second win of the year.

 

“I’ve been working on my starts, that’s pretty much all we did this week,” said Plessinger. “It paid off this weekend, like Shane McElrath said it was a fitness thing. You had to hit your marks over and over again for 15 minutes.”

 

McElrath conceded that Plessinger was faster on the night, especially in the first rhythm lane after the start. He tried his best to ride defensively, so the first time Plessinger attacked him he squared the Yamaha rider back up to hold the lead. The next time around Plessinger tried again, but when McElrath tried to come back, Plessinger moved over and they almost collided. Plessinger’s move over was on the dirty side, as he crossed over right in a rhythm lane, and Shane nearly crashed. “I’ve been racing Aaron since I was on little bikes. I know that’s not something he’s known for,” said Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull KTM’s McElrath. “For a good lap I was just boiling but then I had to focus ahead and block that out.”

 

Added Plessinger of the somewhat combative pass, “I honestly did not realize it was that gnarly of a pass,” said Plessinger. “I saw him out of the corner of my eye and I did not realize he was that close.”

 

Plessinger is the first multi-time 250SX winner this year and will have the red plates back on for Oakland next weekend. Plessinger is the first multi-time 250SX winner this year and will have the red plates back on for Oakland next weekend.

 

Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Joey Savatgy had a rough night in Glendale. Going down hard in the whoops during his heat race. He went back to the pits, got it together and managed to come back and win the LCQ. In the main event, he spent most of the race trying to get McElrath, but then in the late laps his teammate Adam Cianciarulo started pressing him. Savatgy bobbled in a rhythm lane and crashed, sending him back to fourth. Cianciarulo, while happy with his podium finish,  was somewhat philosophical after the race. “I felt great tonight but I didn’t feel like otherworldly where you can come from tenth to win the race. I got a terrible start and I was so bummed—my sight lap start was so good!” he said after finishing third. “That was a holeshot 25 times! It’s literally the definition of insanity doing the same thing every week and expecting different results. That’s my starts.”

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