On a Saturday night that honored history, Eli Tomac made some of his own at Daytona International Speedway, winning the 50th annual DAYTONA Supercross.
Cortex, Colorado’s Tomac, aboard a Kawasaki, became the fourth rider to win the DAYTONA Supercross four times. His other titles came in 2016, ’17 and ’19. This victory did not come easily; Tomac fell behind Ken Roczen early in the 20-minute/plus one lap race, with the gap growing to nearly nine seconds at one point. With just less than two minutes left before the white-flag lap, Tomac completed a long, steady comeback by taking the lead when Roczen’s Honda bobbled slightly in a tight turn and Roczen nearly went down.
Roczen, from nearby Clermont, Florida, rallied late to finish second, only 0.707 seconds behind. Defending series champion Cooper Webb, also from Clermont, finished third on a KTM bike. The 1-2-3 finish also mirrored the current standings in 450SX, in the Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship.
“Tonight it was just a little bit of patience in the beginning because the pace was hard early on,” Tomac said. “Somewhere about halfway I realized I had to get going and make the moves and the passes. It was tough to make up the time. Gosh, that was close.
“Big night. We’re in a really good spot in the points, a spot we haven’t been in. So, we’ll just keep trucking along.”
The DAYTONA Supercross was first held in the DIS infield in 1971 and the course for the 50th annual event, designed by five-time DAYTONA Supercross champion Ricky Carmichael, had a throwback feel. That nod to history included elements from past courses such as an over-the-wall jump, a DAYTONA tunnel jump and grass on some portions of the racing surface. In line with the evening’s historical theme, a number of past DAYTONA Supercross champions attended and were introduced during pre-race ceremonies, including the winner of the inaugural DAYTONA Supercross in 1971, Swedish motorcycle legend Gunnar Lindstrom.
Prior to the headlining 450SX main event, the 250SX main was won by Garrett Marchbanks of Coleville, Utah on a Kawasaki. Marchbanks rode a holeshot start to an early, sizable lead and a dominating victory – the first of his career in 250SX competition. Honda riders Chase Sexton of Clermont and Jeremy Martin of Rochester, Minn. finished second and third. Local favorite Justin Starling of DeLand, Florida qualified for the main and finished 15th on a Honda.
“I hadn’t gotten a holeshot in I don’t know how long,” Marchbanks said. “I rode smart, after I got out front I rode some good laps. You know, [it’s] don’t look back [at that point], just keep on going.”
Racing started Saturday night with heat events – two apiece for the 450SX and 250SX classes with each heat sending nine drivers to the main events. Roczen and Webb won the 450 heats, while Shane McElrath (Yamaha) and Marchbanks took the 250 heats.
Following the heats, respective Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) races advanced the top-four finishers from each going to the mains. Jalek Swoll (Husqvarna) took the 250SX LCQ; Ryan Breece (Suzuki) was the 450SX winner.
Bike Week At DAYTONA continues at Daytona International Speedway through March 15, highlighted by the March 14 doubleheader featuring the 79th DAYTONA 200 and the DAYTONA TT.
Tickets for the DAYTONA 200, DAYTONA TT and all other speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.