Tampa Supercross by the numbers: Eli Tomac responds to the heat
Eli Tomac won his third Monster Energy Supercross race of 2023 last week in Houston after feeling the heat from second-place Chase Sexton, and the numbers heading into Tampa suggest that’s just what he needs to perform at his peak.
In Houston, Sexton dominated the preliminary events. He posted the fastest laps in both qualification sessions by almost a full second each time. He surged to an almost eight-second lead in his heat, beating Tomac. And Sexton would go on to set the fastest lap in the Main.
But Eli won. He did so by setting three of the five fastest laps in the race and that was the result of responding well to the pressure. When Sexton got on his back tire on Lap 15, Tomac picked up a half second per lap. After the race, Sexton said the sand section was the area of the track where he struggled most, and according to Clinton Fowler from Three Laps Down he was right. Tomac picked up .3 seconds there on average during the final laps.
Sexton’s second-place last week in Houston and Cooper Webb’s fifth means they are the only two riders with a perfect record of top-fives through four rounds,
Tomac, Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen, Aaron Plessinger, Adam Cianciarulo and Joey Savatgy have swept the top 10.
Meanwhile, Christian Craig has come close to getting his first 450SX top-10 by finishing 11th in each of the last three races.
In the 14th edition of a Tampa Supercross race, Tomac seems to have the edge. He is the only active 450 rider with a win there, having taken the top spot in the last two races, (in 2018 and 2020). And that means this could be the week he catches Ricky Carmichael for fourth in all time Supercross wins with 87.
Twelve of the previous 13 races in Tampa have been held at the current venue, which was named Tampa Stadium before becoming Raymond James Stadium, but with sporadic appearances of late, only two races have been held since 1999. That means no other active 450cc rider other than Tomac has won there.
In fact, no other active rider has multiple podium finishes in Tampa, which suggests Saturday’s race will be a wide-open affair.
Privateers have had a strong run so far in 2023. Justin Hill and Justin Starling have made all four previous Mains while Freddie Noren, Kevin Moranz, and Josh Cartwright have made three.
In the 250cc division, there has never been a repeat winner in Tampa and no former winners are in the field this week, so that trend will continue.
Hunter Lawrence’s win last week in Houston was his 14th podium finish, which ties him with multiple riders for 50th on the all-time list. By earning the maximum in that race, he also climbed into the top 100 in points’ earned in this division - landing 93rd on the list.
Chris Blose, filling in for Pro Kawasaki after that team lost Seth Hammaker and Jo Shimoda, advanced into the top 50 in points (48th).
Last Five Tampa Winners
2020: Eli Tomac
2018: Eli Tomac
1999: Kevin Windham
1998: Larry Ward
1996: Jeremy McGrath
2020: Shane McElrath
2018: Austin Forkner
1999: Ernesto Fonseca
1998: Ricky Carmichael
1996: Michael Pinchon
By the Numbers
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Results and points after Houston