Daytona International Speedway has become synonymous with brutally long supercross tracks/races. But now, the speedway is becoming synonymous with a brand: Kawasaki. For the third year in a row, it was Kawasaki riders who finished 1-1 in the two main events in the infield of the speedway. On the same night we saw a first-time winner we also saw an all-time great stamp his name in another page of this sport’s history book. First, let’s start in the 250SX West Region.
Once the riders went barreling into the first turn, Rockstar Energy Husqvarna’s Stilez Robertson came out of the first chicane out front with the race lead. Then he led a few sections before leading his first lap as a professional. Then he clicked off another lap in the lead. Then another. Then another. Then another. Eventually, he surpassed the halfway mark in the main event—still doing so in the lead. Afterwards in the post-race press conference, the recently-turned 19-year-old Robertson said late in the race he didn’t notice he was suffering much from physical fatigue but he said, “I didn’t really get tired, it was more so just mentally really.”
“When I got out front, I didn’t know better, so I just started putting in my laps and then around halfway it set in,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’m leading Daytona right now.’”
Eventually, on the ninth lap, Cameron McAdoo was able to hunt down Robertson to take over the lead. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s McAdoo was fast in qualifying, which translated to a heat race win, and after a top-five start in the main event he was able to push the pace to catch Robertson out front. Once into the lead, the #31 never looked back, bobbed, or anything. He led the remainder of the race before taking the checkered flag. By doing so, he became the fifth rider to land their first 250SX main event win at the speedway.
"This is unreal," McAdoo said on the podium. "The list of people I have to thank is too long for this interview...That was unreal. That was what we work for, I have such a great group of people behind me. …I can’t thank everyone around me enough. This is only the beginning!”
He said a few times to the media that he was speechless and would only have more words tomorrow once he was able to process it all.
“Honestly going over the finish line and getting to ride up to the wall and doing that burnout. That’s something that I’ll never forget,” McAdoo said. “They always say your first one feels good, and it really does.”
Justin Cooper’s less-than ideal start cost him on a night where he was easily a favorite. His toughness and speed could have been displayed on the track where those two are required to work hand-in-hand to claim the trophy at the end of the night. Cooper has displayed both throughout his young professional career and after qualifying fastest, it would be tough to bet against the #32. However the 15th-place start hindered his final result. He managed a fourth-place finish but his 1-4 finishes at the first two rounds were bested my McAdoo’s 1-2. The red plates will move from Cooper’s #32 Yamaha YZ250F to McAdoo’s #31 Kawasaki KX250 for the Arlington 1 Supercross next Saturday.
“We’re going into the third round with the red plate and it’s very motivating,” McAdoo said.
The rider that kept Cooper from reaching the podium? Pierce Brown. For Brown, the night was not only his debut on the Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/GasGas Factory Racing MC 250F and but his first time behind the gates for a race since the RedBud 1 National round of the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship on September 4, 2020.
“I was off the bike for four and a half months and it’s been about eight or nine months since I lined up,” Brown said. “The nerves felt like it was my first race ever. I did not expect to be on the podium… I couldn’t be happier.”
“It’s definitely been a building process,” he said of the long recovery period. “I got six weeks of an offseason and I came in super unprepared and I just kind of rode out there… But I trusted my ability and next thing I know I was in third place. Justin Cooper was right there on me at the end and I just had to put my head down and dig deal… A lot of lows and a lot of highs, but this is definitely a high.”
Brown managed to hold off Cooper for the final three laps to claim the final spot on the podium—the first top-three of his young professional career. He said in the post-race press conference that later half of the race was difficult to manage mentally, as well. He said it didn’t help knowing somewhere close on his tail was a hungry Cooper.
“I was just trying to stay calm out there by my mind was going crazy… I heard a Star bike behind me, and I knew it was [Justin] Cooper for sure. As I was going out of the sand, I could see him coming in. And then with two laps to go, I lost track of him. I just knew I’d have to dig deep and hit all the rhythms.”
Last year’s main event winner Garrett Marchbanks, formerly on a Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki but now on a ClubMX Yamaha, finished fifth. Like Cooper, Marchbanks was buried off the start as he came all the way back from 17th. Hunter Lawrence went down while in the top five and had to fight back to finish sixth. Alex Martin was second to start the race but went backwards the entire race as he finished seventh.
|1||Cameron McAdoo||Sioux City, IA||Kawasaki KX250|
|Bakersfield, CA||Husqvarna FC 250|
|3||Pierce Brown||Sandy, UT||GasGas MC 250F|
|4||Justin Cooper||Cold Spring Harbor, NY||Yamaha YZ250F|
|5||Garrett Marchbanks||Coalville, UT||Yamaha YZ250F|
Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac continues to stamp his name in the different pages of this sport’s history book. Tonight, ET3 earned career 450SX win #36—and his fifth 450SX main event win at Daytona International Speedway, which ties legend Ricky Carmichael for most all time. In the post-race press conference, Tomac said he was still in disbelief of claiming his fifth Daytona 450SX main event.
“It’s a little hard to believe,” he said. “I mean, five out of the past six years is more than I would have ever expected… Tonight we had a great start from the beginning and yeah, just having fun on the bike here.”
Note: at some point during the broadcast, Carmichael stated that he hoped Tomac would tie his record and if Eli did he would be excited for Tomac because “all records were meant to be broken.”
It wasn’t easy for Tomac to win but getting himself a great start did make his night go that much smoother.
“My goal was just to be the second guy inside going into the first turn,” Tomac said. “As long as I was number two, I knew I could come out top five just controlling the inside.”
Tomac gained seven points on Roczen on the night but after nine rounds he still sits down 24 points.
“I needed this,” he said on the win. “I’ve struggled the past three or four rounds just not being me. I’ve been looking forward to this race the way the last few have gone… It makes me feel like I’m still somewhat in the game whereas if I got beat by Ken [Roczen] and Cooper [Webb] again, I’d really be out of it.”
While Tomac did grab the early lead coming out of the second turn, he had the hard-charger due of Aaron Plessinger and Cooper Webb all over him in the opening laps. Plessinger was going at Webb in their heat race and then the two found one another in the main event. They were racing one another hard but clean. Eventually, Plessinger bettered the #2 and became the guy to keep Tomac honest. For 14 straight laps Plessinger yo-yoed from around 2 to 5 seconds behind Tomac while Webb encountered battles with those behind him including Ken Roczen, Malcolm Stewart, and Marvin Musquin. Webb was relentless, eventually reclaiming every spot he lost back. Even, on the last lap, on the last turn (the track featured a long rhythm section that led into the finish line) a Plessinger bobble meant a runner-up finish for Webb.
“I wish I could have kept Coop behind me those last few laps but you know, it happens,” Plessinger said. “It’ll come easier now.”
While Plessinger’s 450SX career hasn’t been filled with the race wins and titles his 250SX career was, since he moved to the premier class in 2019 many would anticipate Plessinger’s breakout ride happening at this race. In 2019 he was running inside the top ten when he crashed and shattered his ankle. In 2020, he was coming off a career-best fifth the race prior but finished sixth. Now, Plessinger’s breakout ride has finally arrived. It’s one he said he’s had coming all along.
“I was definitely do for one here and I got it done tonight,” he said. “…I’m going to keep this going and hopefully click off some podiums in the next couple of weeks,” he said.
Webb rode a great race but did luck out by gaining two extra points on Roczen because of Plessinger’s bobble.
“Every race is important, but we’re halfway now,” he said. “Plenty of racing left but points are crucial. At this point, it can go either way. Tonight was crucial to make the most of it and get a second place… I think later down the line I’ll look at this race and say, ‘It was a crucial one.’”
A fired-up Roczen also spoke about his race and fourth-place finish afterwards.
“Obviously, I got a really good start and Webb just pushed me wide into the Tuff Blox, which caused me to lose a bunch of spots,” Roczen said. “I think he’s scared of me and that’s why he plays these kind of games but little does he know, I like to play as well. So from here on out, I’m just going to put in that little bit of extra focus on a daily basis—even at home—to just be that much better on the weekend. He’s just fueling the fire and I’m ready for it. I mean, he got this round, the points did close up a little bit but we’ve got plenty of racing to go. So, yeah, I like to play so let’s go. I’m going to focus hard and bring it on the weekends.”
In the post-race press conference, Webb was asked if he had heard what Roczen said during his TV interview.
“Yeah, when we got back, he was running his mouth,” said Webb. “He wasn’t too pumped but I’m not sure why. I saw an opening and went for it. He’s focusing on himself this year and clearly he showed how much he’s focusing on himself.”
“I had a great start, me, him [Ken Roczen], and Eli were all right there," he said. "I went through the middle there and wanted to make sure I could get ahead of Ken and yeah made the move. Then I settled in behind Eli… As the race got going, I started getting better and figured out some lines and was able to make that last lap effort there at the end.”
Behind the top four, Stewart finished fifth to earn his best 450SX Daytona finish. Musquin was more than likely going to battle with Stewart until the checkered flag but he pulled into the pits and did not finish, scoring 21st officially. Musquin said in a team statement he heard a noise in the engine and decided to call the race early instead of risking finishing.
“I was glad to be back at Daytona after only being able to watch last year,” Musquin said. “The riding was good today. I made a mistake and got passed by two guys but I fought my way back up to Ken [Roczen] and Cooper and unfortunately, I started hearing noise in the engine. I didn’t know what was wrong and I couldn’t keep going and take risk with that without knowing what was going on, so unfortunately, I had to DNF. It’s heartbreaking, I can’t believe it. Those situations are tough to accept but we’re moving onto Dallas for a week of racing and it should be good.”
Once Musquin called it a night the field gained on position. Justin Barcia and Jason Anderson claimed sixth and seventh, respectively, although neither were really in touch with the top five at any point. Chase Sexton recorded eighth in his first race back since crashing out of the Houston 2 Supercross back in January. Justin Bogle improved his season-best with a ninth-place in the main event. Max Anstie rode his Twisted Tea/HEP Motorsports Suzuki RM-Z450 to a 14th-place finish and Muc-Off Honda 250SX East Region rider Mitchell Oldenburg finished 15th on a CRF450R.