Eli Tomac’s 3rd win of 2020 gave him control of the red plate. Feature photo by: Octopi
The 2020 Monster Energy Supercross, an FIM World Championship headed east for round number 7 and round 1 of the 2020 Eastern Regional 250SX Championship and the 2020 Tampa SX. In both classes, a new rider left Tampa with the red plate and both riders were dominant in their respective main events.
In the 450 class, it was Monster Energy / Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac scoring his third win of the 2020 season and taking the points lead with him. Tomac was joined on the 450SX podium by the defending 450SX Champ, Cooper Webb, in 2nd and HRC / Honda’s Ken Roczen taking 3rd.
In the 250SX class, Monster Energy / Star Racing / Yamaha’s Shane McElrath recorded the first win in the 250SX East. Shane was surrounded on the podium by two GEICO / Honda riders with Chase Sexton finishing 2nd and Jeremy Martin taking the 3rd spot on the box.
After the racing was over, we gathered numerous quotes from the riders in the pits and around the web talking about how their race in Tampa went for them
Eli Tomac: (1st in 450SX) “Today could not have gone much better. All-day I felt comfortable on Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450 and it showed. Our starts tonight were as good as they have ever been, which put us in a good position right from the start of the race. I was able to follow Adam for the first part of the race and the difference-maker for me and a lot of riders out there tonight was the sand section. It could either help you or hurt you depending on the lap or if there were lapped riders in the way. I was able to get through there cleanly one time to get past my teammate and from there I was able to ride my own race. It is always nice to have the points lead, but we will not settle for anything less than wins from this point forward.”
Shane McElrath: (1st in 250SX) “This win was a big relief to be honest. All off season we’ve been steady, we’ve been working. Anything I could improve on, we’ve worked on it. I’ve changed everything having to do with my racing, so it would be easy to question it. I had to trust in those changes and believe we could be up here. I worked as hard as I could and in the end it paid off. The track was not easy. It was technical. But that’s what we have worked for, so I felt prepared for this.”
Cooper Webb: (2nd in 450SX) “It was tricky all day and it was easy to make mistakes out there. I’m happy with a second. Obviously, I wanted to be up there for that win tonight. I felt great all day but it’s a good night overall. I felt like I rode good and I just need to be better on my starts.”
Chase Sexton: (2nd in 250SX) “There’s obviously a weight to the number one plate, but to me it’s an honor that I dreamed about when I was little. You just want to perform for the people that support you, and we made big strides this offseason. Last year at the opener, I didn’t feel good at all. I didn’t have any race pace. I finished fifth. This year, the bike feels really good. I just want to leave my bike, focus on myself and my riding. Feeling a lot better going into Dallas (next week) than I did after the first round last year.”
Jeremy Martin: (3rd in 250SX) “Wow did it feel good to be back at the races lining up on my GEICO Honda!. Felt pretty fast all day long in practice, but I didn’t expect to qualify P1. Come the night show I struggled a little bit in the heat race and main event with small race craft mistakes which led to arm pump so I did my best to manage my race coming home to third place! It’s fine, all those things will come, I haven’t raced in a situation like that with points on the line, racing for a championship, for a long time. A year ago, I was working at a dealership for a buddy of mine! I feel like this is my second chance at racing so I’m happy to be here. Really excited about this 2020 east coast series and building off this first round!”
Ken Roczen: (3rd in 450SX) “It’s a bummer to lose the points lead but there’s a whole lot of racing left, and overall I’m happy with how my day went. I was pretty consistent throughout the day – I just didn’t get the starts I needed. I lifted my body up too much, so I was a bit deeper in the pack and had to work my way up to the front. Then, ultimately, I tucked the front off the triple, which cost me a lot of time. I’m still happy to be back on the podium. I appreciate being up here because on weekends like last weekend, when I’m far away from it, it’s not so nice. No red plate for right now, but I’ll keep trying to fight back for it and keep a positive mindset. We’ll keep working during the week to get some consistency in and try to be up there from the beginning, because the lead guys were just too far gone by the time we got into fourth or fifth.”
Justin Barcia: (4th in 450SX) “I had a pretty scary crash in practice so it was good to walk away from that. My hand just slipped off the bar over the triple and I went flying. This track was a difficult track. I wasn’t expecting it to be so hard-packed. We made some good changes going into the night, but I got another one of those bad starts in the Main. I was able to charge through the pack and got fourth place. My bike was working well on the track, it was awesome. It was hard to pass out there, but I was able to make it work. All in all, I gained some confidence going through the pack like that. I’m looking forward to being back at home this week before the next round in Texas.”
Dean Wilson: (6th in 450SX) “The Main Event went pretty good, I think it was a step in the right direction. It’s been pretty tough coming back from injury to a class that’s so stacked but I’ve been pushing through and it’s nice to see a half-decent result. I’m going to use this for next weekend and build off of it and keep it going.”
Garrett Marchbanks : (4th in 250SX) “I had a pretty good day. I rode well starting from qualifying, to second place in my heat race, and then to getting fourth in the main event. I didn’t make it easy on myself starting outside the top-10, but was pumped with my riding and the fact that I was able to charge that far forward. I honestly felt like I had third place tonight, but the lappers were bad in the sand section. I can’t thank my entire Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team enough for all of their hard work this offseason. Tonight got me excited to go racing next weekend in Dallas!”
Adam Cianciarulo: (8th in 450SX) “Man, I wanted that 1-2 Kawasaki finish so bad. I felt great all day long and obviously with it being somewhat of a hometown race for me I wanted to put on a show for my friends and family. Finishing in eighth is tough pill to swallow because we had that podium finish in our hands. My team and I have already made a plan on how to clean up these errors and will be ready to get our sprint on next week in Dallas for the next Triple Crown event.”
Jordon Smith: (5th in 250SX) “Well things didn’t go entirely as planned tonight. We obviously want to be competing for wins and podiums and anything shy of that is unacceptable. I felt like I struggled a bit to find my groove, but the good thing is this is only round one out of nine, so to leave here healthy and with a fifth-place finish is something we can build on. I am already looking forward to next weekend’s Triple Crown and getting another chance to compete.”
Justin Brayton: (9th in 450SX) “Up until about four laps to go, it was looking like we could get a top-five finish, but right about then it kind of all unraveled and I ended up in ninth. I’m pretty disappointed with it to be honest. It’s been a challenging week for my family, with everyone kind of having the flu. Now my head has been pounding all day, so it’s been tough to focus. I kind of ran out of gas with four to go, but that’s racing and you end up ninth or 10th. The race was okay up until that, but the reality is that you get judged by your end result and it doesn’t matter how you rode through the middle.”
Broc Tickle: (12th in 450SX) “My first race back in almost two years was filled with emotions. I’m very happy with how smooth and calm I stayed throughout the day. I felt like I haven’t missed a beat overall being away. I will improve each week as a racer and get more comfortable. I want to thank JGRMX/Yoshimura/Suzuki for all the hard work over the last three weeks preparing for Tampa. I’m looking forward to getting more quality riding and training in this week to show up to Dallas a step better than this round.”
Aaron Plessinger: (16th in 450SX) “I felt good in practice, flowing well. In the end, the dirt was a lot different down here than what I thought it would be. I thought there would be a lot more ruts. I didn’t get great starts which cost me. And then me and the whoops weren’t getting along much today and I ended up going down there. When I got up, I was staying at pace with the guys at the front. I know the speed is there. I just need to put myself in a good position from the start. We’ll get them next week. I’m excited for the Triple Crown next weekend. It will be a good change.”
Rj Hampshire: (6th in 250SX) “I was pretty nervous coming into it. In the Main Event, I had a better start but I got caught up in the first turn. The opening laps were rough but once I got into a flow I was feeling the best I’ve felt all day. I made a pretty good charge but I crashed with two laps to go while going for the podium. We made a lot of improvements throughout the day and I think we’re in a good spot.”
James Decotis : (9th in 250SX) “The first round of 250 East Coast racing was a challenging task for me and the JGR team. We fought hard all day, pushing through an injury and we ended up with a ninth-place finish. I’m thankful for my crew and everyone who kept me positive through the adversity. I’m excited for a few days of rest so I can let the body heal and then head to Arlington, Texas healthy and ready to challenge upfront.”
Jo Shimoda: (10th in 250SX) “Yeah my day went pretty good until the night show. I was seventh and sixth in for my timed practice sessions, but when the night show started I was riding so tight! I still was able to get through some sketchy moments, made some saves. In the main event I had good start running fifth for five laps, but I couldn’t find the best line through the sand section, which made me slower each lap. Went back to 12th with mistakes, no crashes, just small mistakes. I got better at the end, I passed two guys to get into tenth.”
Jalek Swoll: (DNQ in 250SX) “I think speed-wise I’m not lacking confidence at all, I just need to get myself in a better position moving forward. I was feeling really good in the heat race but an unfortunate mishap in the whoops caused me to go down and I banged up my clutch and bars a little bit so I ended up pulling off. That didn’t help me in the LCQ with a 26th gate pick. I got pinched off on the start and tried to come back to the top-four and it came down to the last corner and I just missed the last transfer position.”