The Triple Crown format debuted last night at round three of Monster Energy Supercross in Anaheim, and Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac was back in form, capturing the overall in 450SX with 5-1-2 finishes. Tomac scored just one point through the first two rounds after sustaining a shoulder injury at the opener.
Honda HRC’s Cole Seely took the first main event win, and followed it up with a second. He finished seventh in the third main event to take second overall.
Points leader Jason Anderson went 7-3-1 to round out the podium. All three riders spoke with the media following the race.
Racer X: Jason, if you look at your main event scores, it’s the first one that cost you tonight. If we go back to main event one, it seemed like you were sitting in that 7-12 range and it wasn’t a lot of movement. Was that the track, the intensity? What do you think attributed to that kind of finish in that first main event?
Jason Anderson: The first lap of the first one I think I came around like 14th. I got stuck on the lip of the triple whenever they had that pileup with I think Mookie and Friese or something. I was able to come around. It’s so short of a race that it’s hard to make up time. So, I’m lucky I was able to get up to 7th and salvage something out of that. That first race was tough because it was so short, and it was all about the start. It was a lot of racing tonight. It’s kind of crazy. It was a curveball for us and for me.
Cole, congratulations. Got your first main event win of the season and your first overall podium. Going into that third main event, what was the pressure like? You had about a three-point lead. Were you feeling it on the gate and back at the truck?
Cole Seely: Yeah, definitely on the gate. It’s just that last little bit is just to close the deal. Obviously, these guys are riding really good. Definitely ups the pressure. I knew I was riding really well in the first two mains; just the start, really, is what got me. I think I came around 14th as well in the first lap. It was hectic coming through the crowd. Guys were really not giving me an inch, just going after it. I was kind of scared there for a little bit. I felt like I had the win in my grasp and these guys were trying to take it from me. I just ran out of steam at the end and wish I could have pushed forward a little bit more and made a few more passes.
Eli, congratulations. A week ago, in Houston in qualifying, it was pretty evident that you were struggling with the injury. This week, bounce back, get the win. Do you think it was maybe some of the therapy and the things you did during the week, or was it the track maybe that seemed a little bit more forgiving on the injury?
Eli Tomac: I don’t want to sit here and make up the sob story of, “Oh, I was hurt,” but it was just time. I just hammered my shoulder and just needed time to recover. Honestly the thing just wasn’t getting better. When you hammer something that bad, it takes more than a week to really come around. The past two days, it just made big, big leaps to where we were able to ride a little bit Wednesday and Thursday. I knew we were going to be able to give it a good run tonight. This three-main event format was something else.
Cole, first time you’ve led laps in quite some time. What does that do for a guy’s confidence, and did that kind of carry through the night?
Seely: Yeah, it did a lot. I had to make some quick passes to get in the lead. I was actually more happy about the second main event, the way I rode. Eli was going fast, and to be able to stick with him and kind of catch up before I made the mistake. I think I had a lot of fun in that race. It was definitely a confidence booster. Really one of the first times in a long time that I really enjoyed racing and really got that high that you get from leading laps and just battling out with the best guys in the world. It’s super fun when things kind of fall into place like that.
Eli, after the first Anaheim when you had your crash, there was a lot of rumors about different injuries you had. You openly talked about your shoulder, but I’ve also heard that you hit your head. Would you like to clear that up now?
Tomac: Yeah, it was just shoulder. I did bump my head a little bit, but that wasn’t the reason for staying off the motorcycle at all. I was fine in that way. It was my shoulder.
Jason, you kind of alluded to last week that you’ve been able to race a more patient and calculated race than maybe in previous years. What changed and what clicked for you? Did you find it more challenging in the short, more sprint format of tonight to still remain patient in those moves and passes?
Anderson: Yeah, obviously the first races, whenever trying to stay patient and stuff when you only have six minutes or eight minutes to make it happen is pretty tough. I feel like I was able to minimize the damage and not blow it too bad with how bad of a position I put myself in on the start. But at the same time, you want to pass the guys, but you don’t want to fall down. That 7th could have easily been a 12th or 14th. So, I feel like I maybe could have winged it and pulled off a few more moves to get up to maybe pass one more guy or something like that, but I felt like I was better tonight and able to… Even though it was 7th, I’m still on the podium. Trying to take some notes out of the last champion, I guess you could say. That’s what he’s been good at, and that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s hard to mimic whenever the guys are riding so good. They don’t make it easy on me, that’s for sure.
Question for all three: supercross tried a change tonight. Can you imagine doing a whole series with that format? Maybe would two races be better, do you think?
Tomac: I think the field would struggle to make it throughout the whole season. I think you’d probably see more injuries. When you add two extra starts and that much pressure and everyone on the line, there’s quite a bit more risk involved. I think that in a whole season wouldn't be a good thing.
Anderson: Way too hectic for 18 rounds of that. No way. It’s kind of scary, honestly. One start a night with all the top guys is one thing. Tonight, doing three starts with everyone, it is pretty crazy. Those first laps, if you’re not one or two, you don’t know if you’re going to hit the triple, or if you’re going to double it. It’s pretty scary, but at the same time it’s probably a little bit more action for the fans, but for us it is hectic doing three starts.
Seely: Also, I took a look at practice times and it was like a second between, I think, Jason was first and Dean was 14th. So, one second separated all the way back, and not behind him was the cut for who had to go to the LCQ. It definitely makes for an exciting night for sure, but it’s very unforgiving.
Cole, you won the first race and people are probably going to say, “Well, he got a start in a short race.” But it seemed like overall, you were just riding better tonight, especially in the first two. So, was it something with the track, or just round three finding some settings or something that’s more comfortable now?
Seely: I’m just getting more comfortable. I said after A1 I was really frustrated just because of all the work that I put in and nerves got the best of me. I’m just kind of settling down, I’d say. Once you get past these first three or four rounds, things start to kind of settle out and you kind of figure out where you’re at in the pack. I’m just getting more comfortable. I’m having a lot of fun right now. The bike’s been awesome. We did mess with some settings during the week this week, but I wouldn’t say that that’s the whole reason why I’m riding better.
Eli, after the last two weeks that you had, and you’re definitely in a hole for the championship, but then to come out tonight and score 26 big points and an overall win, what does that set your plan up for the rest of the year? It’s obviously not conservation. You have the speed to win. So, is it just all out now, or is it a long game because a championship chase is kind of unlikely?
Tomac: Yeah, it’s so early to talk about. I’m just glad that I was able to race tonight, really. That’s really early. We did the best we could. We grabbed 26 points, but it’s way too early to talk about that. Yeah, we’re going to try to do everything we can, but we’re in a big hole.
Jason, you talked about the intensity of the night program. Did that also carry over to the day program as far as qualifying goes? Guys trying to throw down a lap immediately, especially today where we had only two groups, so two bigger groups and all the guys really trying to become the fast 18 rather than the fast 40?
Anderson: For us top guys, it doesn’t really… Top 18, I don’t really feel like it changed much. As far as practice, it didn’t really matter. The only thing is we had to wake up earlier for track walk; that was about it. The races were crazy and that was about it.
Jason, so you spent a lot of time out here in California. Do you think that helped you with the dirt out here? Also, since you were out here, there were a lot of rumors about you and Baker’s Factory. Would you like to address those and the dirt?
Anderson: I was good in Houston and it was tacky there. Honestly, I think you just got to try and be the best every night. I feel like at this point we got to be very savvy with how we have set up our bike and how we ride. We got to be smart with not pushing it too much. If the track breaks down differently tonight, it could get slick. Last weekend could get rutty. I think it comes with experience. Then as far as me and Aldon are still good and training. People just are making a big deal out of it. We’re cool.
Eli, with the amount of racing and the intensity that you had, was the shoulder starting to get fatigued? Were you in conservative mode at any point, or were you pretty much able to ride like you would at any event?
Tomac: I would say I felt the same throughout all three tonight. Honestly, the first one was tough with that intensity. I thought the first race was the hardest race. At least it was for me. Once the second one, third one came around you were warmed up and you were kind of used to the pace. It never really got to a point where I was like, “Oh gosh, I’m barely hanging on.” So, it held together.
For all three of you, everyone has been saying this is going to be more of a sprint because the races are shorter, but in a regular 20-minute main event, is there a point where you’re even riding at 99 percent, or are you sprinting the whole time? Is there an actual difference in strategy or conserving energy that you don’t have to address because the race is shorter? Or can you just race exactly like you would the same laps in a longer event? Is it the same or is it actually different?
Anderson: I just think a lot of the other guys are a little bit more mellow when it comes to 20 minutes. The first race tonight, they were just going for it. It is a sprint, but I think you have a lot of guys that are very talented and can go very fast. When it comes to only doing it for eight minutes, a lot of guys can go fast for eight minutes. I think that was the gnarliest part about it.
Cole, this was a very not technical track and you’re a very technical rider. What do you prefer? Do you prefer when it’s easy like this where you did really well, or a super technical track?
Seely: I don’t know. I wish the whoops would have been a little bigger, because I think that’s kind of a bigger divider for everyone. I enjoyed the track tonight. I enjoy a technical track. Obviously, I don’t have a choice in the track, so I just race whatever’s given to me. I felt like I rode really well tonight. I don’t think it was necessarily the track. I think it was just me kind of finding my groove and getting along better with race situations and all that.