Will 2019 be the year that Eli Tomac finally cracks the top spot in the Monster Energy Supercross standings?
Yes, he was the 2012 champion in the series’ 250 class, two years before moving up to the larger 450 class. Yes, he’s also a multi-time 450 champion in Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, winning that title for the second year in a row last season. And yes, he ended 2018 a million dollars richer by sweeping all three main events in the Monster Energy Cup.
But there’s still one thing that eludes the Monster Energy Kawasaki rider, and that’s the opportunity to etch his name alongside Ricky Carmichael, Ryan Villopoto, and the sport’s most legendary riders as an indoor 450 champion.
As a sophomore 450 rider in 2015, Tomac was the closest challenger to Ryan Dungey, with two wins and 11 podiums that year. After sliding back to fourth in points in 2016, Tomac returned with a vengeance in 2017 by winning eight of the first 14 rounds of the season to set up a face-off with Dungey for the title. Tomac broke their tie in points with a win in Salt Lake City, but crashed in New Jersey and finished eighth while Dungey took the points lead with a win of his own. Tomac’s second place finish in the Las Vegas finale wasn’t enough to retake the top spot, as Dungey came home fourth to secure the title.
2018 offered a fresh start, but immediately took a downturn as Tomac crashed while leading the Anaheim 1 season opener and pulled off with a shoulder contusion. He missed the next round in Houston, effectively ending his title chase before it could begin. But when Tomac returned, he earned back-to-back victories at Anaheim 2 and Glendale, and eventually totaled eight wins and 12 podiums on the way to third place in the championship.
After taking his second straight outdoor title last year, Tomac gets another clean slate this weekend in Anaheim and an opportunity to try and put the 2018 season behind him. Expect another strong start this weekend, but one question still remains: even after all the wins and podiums, is this the year that he finally strings together a flawless enough season to take the 450 title? We’re about to find out.