2022 Denver Supercross Recap
What a difference a new bike brand makes.
Eli Tomac popped it in cruise control for Round 16 of the 2022 Monster Energy Supercross series on Saturday in Denver and secured his second 450 class Championship a round early in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd.
Tomac, who for years finished seemingly on the cusp of the premier title won his first in 2020 during the middle of the coronavirus pandemic in front of a mostly empty stadium, finished third in his defense of that title last year, but switched to Yamaha from Kawasaki for 2022 and embraced a whole new team who in turn embraced him to seven wins (with one round remaining) the most for Tomac since 2018 when injury and bad luck knocked him to third-place as well.
Calm, cool and very well collected for 2022, Tomac went on a tear mid-season winning five straight rounds and landing on the podium 11 of 12 rounds between rounds 3 and 14. An admitted knee injury brought his nerve levels up for the previous two rounds but with a 43 point lead heading into the final two rounds becoming the oldest Supercross champion in history seemed more like a foregone conclusion.
"It's really unbelievable. I think back to deciding to make this change and aligning myself with the team and crew that we have. You dream about doing these things, but then for it to actually come into real life, it always makes you speechless," he said in the post-race press conference.
As for the race, Tomac had the lead for a few minutes after Chase Sexton, who grabbed the holeshot, came out of a corner hard and tangled with some tuff blocks near the pits allowing Tomac to get out front to the roar of the crowd. But Jason Anderson, with very slim hopes in the title chase, came up alongside Tomac a few minutes later and Tomac wisely relented and let Ando by. From there, Tomac put in the effort to secure the 2022 Supercross Champion, finishing fifth.
In many respects, Anderson had the same fate as Tomac in 2018. That year was arguably Tomac's year for the title when Anderson claimed his first Supercross championship. Anderson on a new ride and team this year as well has displayed explosive and aggressive riding to the tune of six wins, his most in a season, but will settle on a runner-up finish in the standings thanks to some poor decision making and riders getting revenge.
Well. All that to say...
Congratulations Eli Tomac. And thankfully, he has plans to return next season in defense of his title.
2022 Supercross 450 Class Standings after Round 16
- Eli Tomac - 359: 450 Class Champion
- Jason Anderson - 324
- Malcolm Stewart - 295
- Justin Barcia - 291
- Marvin Musquin - 287
The 250 West class also had a title on the line as Christian Craig needed a win to secure his first Championship but Hunter Lawrence, the winner of the two previous rounds, no doubt was not going to make it easy.
The two burst from the gate and quickly pulled away from the rest of the pack with Lawrence in the lead and Craig on his fender. But with about 10 minutes left, Craig over-throttled in a corner causing too much rear wheel spin in the sand and lost control of his bike. He dropped to seventh thus with little chance of winning the 250 West Champion managed to work his way back on the podium in third thanks to a full-on blitz in the whoops that helped him easily pass Joe Shimoda in the waning minutes.
Craig brings an 18-point lead into the final round Saturday in Salt Lake City where Lawrence will have some friendly company in his brother, who already wrapped up the 250 East Championship, in the final East/West showdown. Both Craig and Hunter Lawrence have three race wins so if Lawrence wins, Craig needs 14th place to secure the title to prevent a tie in points and the Championship going to Lawrence.
2022 Supercross 250 West Class Standings after Round 9
- Christian Craig - 215
- Hunter Lawrence - 197
- Michael Mosiman - 181
- Vince Friese - 144
- Jo Shimoda - 144
The MotoSport Sponsored Muc-Off / FXR / ClubMX Team
Alex Martin finished 13th in the 450 class while Garrett Marchbanks took fifth and Dominique Thury took 12th in the 250 West class.
The 2022 Supercross season comes to a close Saturday in Salt Lake City with the 250 West Championship to be decided and riders in all three classes looking to end the season in the Top 5.