Man, this Eli Tomac guy is a tough nut to crack. The Monster Energy / Kawasaki rider can be absolutely untouchable on one Saturday night and the next Saturday he could be struggling to find his way into the top five. When he is on, Eli is as good as anyone that has ever thrown a leg over a dirt bike, but he has yet to find the consistency that wins SX titles.
Some have pointed to the depth of the 450SX class or Eli’s struggles with starts over the years, but most of the highly underqualified keyboard psychologist point to it being due to some kind of a mental deficiency. I will leave the psychological diagnosis’ to the guys that are qualified, but it is becoming hard to argue against Eli’s extreme ups and downs being something other than mental.
The #3 now has 24 (9th all-time) 450SX main event wins—5 more wins than any other rider in SX history without a premier class title—and he can also now call himself a three-time Daytona SX winner after his dominant win on Saturday night. Those stats are “Hall of Fame” numbers and put him into the history books with some legendary company, but here we are again: ten rounds into a Supercross series and Eli has a 19 point mountain to climb if he wants to call himself a 450SX Champion.
After Eli’s 2019 Daytona SX win on Saturday night, he sat down and answered some questions from the press about his day and night at the Daytona International Speedway.
Eli, this is your 3rd Daytona SX win and Kawasaki’s 15th Daytona SX win, and it completed a Kawasaki sweep on the night. You’re now the 5th rider to win three times at Daytona. It was a really important night tonight—special helmet—and you were very determined. You didn’t get a great start, but around lap five is when you kind of pulled away.
Starting with the day, it was just tough. I was behind these guys [Marvin Musquin and Cooper Webb]. At one point, Marv had a lap time that was two and a half seconds faster than me, and I’m sitting there questioning myself. We just kind of played catch up and made some improvements in each practice. Getting to the main event there, it kind of like took a little bit to get into the groove. Got shuffled to 3rd and finally found the lines and the flow. I was making good time in the whoops. It just started coming to me. Gosh, having that 3rd win here is pretty special.
In the sand section, we saw a lot of miscues and mistakes from everybody in general and there was also a lot of passes there. How tough did those sand sections make the track? How did that change your approach throughout the day?
It was a spot to pass so it was nice. I would say early in the day—the majority of the time—we were using the inside but once we got racing the outside opened up and that was good. In the main, I made a dork mistake and left the door right back open to Blake [Baggett] there. The outside was faster if you were in the clean air there, but I left that open. It was good. We were able to make a couple of passes in it as long as your goggles stayed clean.
You’ve had a couple of wins now and a couple of finishes outside the top five in between. Is there anything you’re able to pinpoint one week to another to try and make this a win streak instead of losing the ground you gain after the victories?
One thing is just putting yourself in the right position off the get-go. Tonight, I just got better starts. I holeshotted that heat and was right there in the top three in the main. Just being there in the heat race. Last week, I buried myself in the main and it wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t able to come up through the pack like I was the week before. The past couple of weeks it’s been a position thing.
It’s interesting to listen to the 250 guys about how beat up the track was and that’s the starting point for you guys. Early it looked like it was going to be an a-typical Daytona—more technical with rhythm—but it got beat down. Can you talk about that?
It was a little bit beat up, but I would say from Daytona’s I’ve raced in the past, it wasn’t the worst one. Surprisingly, in that big rhythm lane, you’d think there would be ruts filled across the whole thing but there really wasn’t. The big table-to-table, it had a smooth face. They did a pretty good job of tuning up the track. Maybe a few of those corners were a little one-lined ’cause they’re almost like too tuned up. It wasn’t the worst one that I’ve ridden.
Can you talk about the [starting] gate configuration? ‘Cause it seemed like going into turn one and turn two, there was a lot of congestion and mishaps.
Turn two was where it was balling guys up. As for the starting itself, it was pretty inside advantaged. If you were top five, you were going to come out in the top five unless you blew that start. It was important to qualify up front.
Photos by: Kawasaki