Question answered: Eli Tomac is untouchable as he wins seventh Daytona Supercross
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida - The week began with a question of whether Eli Tomac is untouchable in Daytona Supercross races and it was answered emphatically: He is.
For the seventh time overall and fifth consecutively, Tomac won the race most riders in the field equates to NASCAR’s Daytona 500. Fittingly, he tied the King Richard Petty for the seven wins in his sports’ iconic race.
Last year Tomac broke out of a tie with Ricky Carmichael for the most Daytona wins at six, but there was still a record hanging over him. Carmichael won his five Daytona races in a row. Tomac now also has five consecutively. Fittingly, he also broke out of a tie with Carmichael for sole possession of third on the wins’ list. James Stewart’s 50 wins is next on the horizon and no one doubts that will happen in the next few rounds.
“All the way from the start, me and Cooper [Webb] just locked up into two the whole time,” Tomac said from the top spot of the podium as the stands emptied and fans rushed the stage. “I think he hit neutral at the finish line on the triple and after that you had to be on your lines.
“Actually, before that we had contact on the double before the shelf, but we both stayed up. All I can say is I love you Daytona.”
Tomac looked beatable at the start of the day. He was outside the top five in practice, rose to fourth in qualification, but once the money was on the line, he won his heat to gain a great gate pick.
“I was struggling in practice straight up,” Tomac told James Stewart on NBC Sports. “My confidence wasn’t high. I was consistently getting beat by a second there, but when the lights come on here the track comes to me and I really find my flow again.”
Last year Tomac passed Webb late in the 2022 Daytona Supercross race and denied him the win, so the early lead was incredibly important. Tomac grabbed the holeshot by inches, but Webb took the early lead, but he could not shake the points’ leader. Tomac stayed on his back tire until a little mistake with 12 minutes remaining on the clock allowed Tomac to pass.
“It was a great fight. I have to tip my cap to myself and also to Eli,” Webb said. “I was trying my balls off up front. He’s just so damn good here it’s tough. I made a little mistake and we collided. I was hoping I didn’t bump him and mess something up on the bike. I hit neutral kind of randomly and he was able to get by. He put on the after burners and I was trying as hard as I could. It was a dogfight.”
One lap earlier, an aborted block pass almost sent both riders to the ground. Tomac came into a bowl turn hot, but Webb would have nothing of it. He put his elbows wide and kept the lead.
For the third consecutive week and the fourth time overall, the top three in points stood on the podium together. Chase Sexton finished third, losing just a little ground in the standings. He is now five behind Webb and 10 behind Tomac in a season where none of these three riders have been able to gain a distinct advantage.
To get the third-place result, Sexton had to overcome a fierce battle with Justin Barcia. Racing for third midway through the race, Sexton pushed Barcia wide. A lap later, Sexton bobbled exiting a turn and the two made contact again.
Jason Anderson rounded out the top five for the third straight time and has not finished worse than seventh.
Making his debut on a 450, RJ Hampshire had a remarkable weekend and top-10 finish. He began the race among the top five and faded a little in the Main event, but no one can take away his first heat win in his first ever start on the bigger bike.
“It’s hard talking someone into to giving you a race when you’ve never been on a 450 before especially here at Daytona,” Hampshire told NBC Sports Will Christien. “Man this is special. I told the guys we were going to get a holeshot no matter what. Didn’t think we would hang on to it, but you know what: just so stoked.”
Following a disappointing round in Arlington when he barely earned an overall podium, Hunter Lawrence decided he would not wait for the race to come to him. On Lap 1 of the Main, he cleaned out last week’s winner Nate Thrasher. Lawrence scored his eighth 250 victory after pulling away from the field.
With this win, Hunter joined his Jett Lawrence as the only brothers to win this race as the 250 East points’ leader stood on the sidelines to watch. Jett won this race last year.
“We didn’t get around the first turn too bad, but I just saw an opportunity in the sand section,” Lawrence said. “It wasn’t ideal, but I took it and never looked back. I got around Tom [Vialle] in the whoops and if got a little sketchy at the midpoint with a light sprinkle. We work too hard at this to not enjoy this.”
Lawrence had one previous start at Daytona. He finished a distant sixth in 2021, 20 seconds behind winner Cameron McAdoo.
After earning podium finishes in his first two races, Max Anstie struggled in the Triple Crown format in Arlington, but still finished among the top five. He apparently missed the limelight of standing on the podium because he outlasted most of the field to finish second and keep his top-five streak alive.
“It was a tough morning and I had to take a few belly breaths after the heat but we came back swinging,” Anstie told NBC Sports Will Christien.
Anstie’s runner-up finish elevated him to second in the points, 14 behind Lawrence.
In his fourth 250 East start, Haiden Deegan scored his first career podium. It was not a huge surprise, however, since he finished fourth in his first two races at Houston and Tampa. Last week, Deegan struggled at Arlington on a track that was hard and slick. Before the Daytona race, he said the dirt was trickier than he expected.
“I’m through the roof,” Deegan said. “This is a sick moment for me right now. I’ve been working my butt off and a lot of people doubted me, but I ended up getting third place and the crowd is sick. I could hear them every lap going down the frontstretch and I am so excited to be up here in my fourth race.’
Jordon Smith backed up his second-place finish in Arlington with the fourth-place finish.
Jeremy Martin rounded out the top five.
After getting dumped by Lawrence, Thrasher was working his way back through the field and running 10th when he crashed a second time. He remounted and climbed back to 10th at the checkers. Compounding his disappointment, Thrasher was coming off a heat win.
2023 Race Recaps
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Eli Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Cooper Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time
Daytona Supercross coverage
How to Watch Daytona Supercross
RJ Hampshire to debut in 450s
Dylan Ferrandis crashes in Daytona delaying return
Title 24 podcast premieres
Eli Tomac extends contract
Power Rankings after Arlington
Cooper Webb wins Arlington, closes on Tomac
Results and Points after Arlington
Max Anstie: You can’t skip steps
Eli Tomac wins sixth Daytona SX race