Eli Tomac must enjoy uphill training runs because he certainly seems adept at riding after falling behind the eight ball.
A surging Tomac enters Round 5 of the 2018 Monster Energy Supercross on Saturday at Oakland Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA way back in the point standings but winner of two straight. This year's Championship favorite for many began the year out front before a hard crash ended his night in the opening round and left him sidelined for Round 2.
Then he won. And won again, becoming the first rider to cross the checkers twice this year in the 450 class. Last week in Glendale, he grabbed the holeshot and checked out moving into 10th place in the standings. The scene mirrors 2017 when he started weak and spent months catching eventual Champion Ryan Dungey but not before holding the Red Plate, for one round, then giving it right back. It's far from over, just four races in the books, putting the onus on points leader Jason Anderson who certainly can't rest on Top 5 finishes.
Eli Tomac going for three-straight wins on Saturday in Oakland
Last year Tomac faced a 29 point deficit after Round 6, if he wins Saturday and the following week in San Diego with Anderson finishing second, he cuts the deficit to 30 after six rounds. He won Oakland last year chasing down Dungey and taking the lead with five laps remaining. Anderson finished fourth that round, just as he did last week at Glendale and in Oakland two years ago.
But Ken Roczen.
Yep, he's back and arguably as effective as ever. The crash (we won't talk about) certainly affected his psyche at A2 (the anniversary race of the crash we are not talking about) but he's got a second and third place (at Glendale) on the season for third in the standings. Sooner or later he wins. Pick your venue. Sorry, speaking of Anderson...
He fell off the podium last week for the first time all season but retains the Red Plate for Oakland (three straight rounds) and remains the only rider with Top 4s to start the season, hence his nine point lead over Justin Barcia. A few more wins and he dumps Tomac further back leaving the 2017 Motocross Champion to focus on a title defense this summer. Somehow though, Anderson must look over his shoulder at Barcia, the now full-time rider for Factory Yamaha who started (though never actually raced) the season a privateer on Honda. So far, the pick-up has delivered dividends for the team with Barcia opening the year with two third-place finishes and a second last week, a career best start for the six-year 450 veteran.
Jason Anderson (L) and Justin Barcia (R) sit 1-2, respectively, in the Championship standings
Marvin Musquin drops to wild card instead of contender after a Round 2 Heat crash left him out for the Main and point salvaging the following week as he nursed a shoulder injury. His dominating season opening win made the case for a title run and he rebounded nicely last week finishing fifth on the ailing shoulder but Musquin fares about as well as Tomac where he sits in ninth in the standings, a point in front of Tomac. But if he recovers to opening round grade, and Saturday might shed some light on his health following 13th and fifth-place results since the injury, expect a five-rider battle to the finish with a few others in the mix. Assuming everyone stays on two wheels.
Elsewhere, Cole Seely drops to fifth from second in the standings after a season low 12th place last week which followed a season high second-place at A2 in the Triple Crown event. He is bookended by Weston Peick in fourth, who started with three straight fifth-place finishes, and veteran Justin Brayton in sixth with nothing below seventh-place on the season. Seely finished fifth last year and three years ago in Oakland while Brayton finished fifth four years ago, so a good chance one of them repeats history.
Aaron Plessinger looking for another win and extending his points lead in Oakland
In the 250SX West class, Aaron Plessinger wrenched the Red Plate back from Joey Savatgy and Shane McElrath (who were tied) with a solid win and pass on McElrath for the lead last week. Plessinger has two wins in the last three rounds and the first with two wins on the season, Savatgy and McElrath grabbed the checkers in the other two.
It's not a three-rider race, yet, as Adam Cianciarulo has two podiums (third in Glendale) and contends every week while Christian Craig also has a podium but both have posted off-weeks as well, relegating them to fourth and fifth, 15 and 22 points from the lead, respectively. Savatgy won Oakland two years ago with Craig in third and McElrath finished third last year to the winner Justin Hill.
Expect another battle from Aaron Plessinger (L) and Shane McElrath (R) on Saturday
Meanwhile, Hill the defending 250 West Champion, shows little in terms of surging to recapture the 2017 magic. He sits in eighth-place with his highest finish of seventh. At this time last year he was riding three straight podiums and back-to-back wins.
Both classes feature six different riders who have stepped on the box this year.
Our Podium Picks for Oakland:
- Eli Tomac
- Ken Roczen
- Jason Anderson
250SX West Class
- Joey Savatgy
- Shane McElrath
- Aaron Plessinger
Check out the track map for Round 5:
Oakland hosts an early race day on Saturday with practice at 9 a.m. (PST) opening ceremonies at 3:30 p.m. (PST) and the gate drop at 4 p.m. (PST). Pleasant day expected with low 70s in the forecast. Buy tickets online or at the box office. FOX Sports 1 provides live television coverage.
2018 Supercross Season Standings
- Jason Anderson (89)
- Justin Barcia (80)
- Ken Roczen (77)
- Weston Peick (71)
- Cole Seely (70)
- Justin Brayton (68)
- Josh Grant (58)
- Blake Baggett (57)
- Marvin Musquin (54)
- Eli Tomac (53)
250SX West Class
- Aaron Plessinger (92)
- Shane McElrath (91)
- Joey Savatgy (87)
- Adam Cianciarulo (77)
- Christian Craig (70)
- Chase Sexton (69)
- Mitchell Oldenburg (58)
- Justin Hill (58)
- Kyle Chisholm (53)
- Brad Taft (51)