After a quick coming-out party in Hangtown, Eli Tomac now leads the GEICO Powersports team into Texas. Motocross insiders have known for quite a while that Eli Tomac of the vaunted Honda MX team was going to be special.
Two weeks ago, the rest of the world found out as well when Tomac became the first rider in motocross history to win in his professional debut.
With no more question marks surrounding his ability to compete at the top level of the sport, Tomac arrives in central Texas for this Saturday's fourth annual Flagstar Bank Freestone National as the current points leader in the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship and one of the favorites to take the race title.
Eli Tomac says: "I had months to get ready for Hangtown while most of the other guys were just coming off a really tough Supercross season so I don't want to go too crazy," said Tomac, the overall winner at the season-opening race a fortnight ago in Hangtown after posting a win and a third-place result in the two 250cc motos.
"Now, everyone has now had a week off and the same amount of time to rest up and get ready for this race so the competition will be much tougher, but I definitely feel ready to go again."
"I really wasn't that nervous being a rookie. I was just pumped. I would say I always get more excited than nervous before races. There were some nerves, but not enough to hurt my riding. I feel the same way going into Texas."
Joining Tomac at Freestone Raceway will be teammates Trey Canard, Brett Metcalfe, Justin Barcia, and Texan Blake Wharton.
An Oklahoma native, Canard enters the event just nine points behind Tomac in third place. He rode extremely well at Hangtown, finishing second and seventh in the two 250cc races.
Last year at Freestone he found the podium in both motos and was third overall. A two-time winner in this year's Supercross action, Canard has yet to win a Motocross race at the professional level.
Trey Canard says: "I'm a calculating racer so sometimes it's difficult for me to let it all hang out like you need to do in these outdoor races so I've been working on that since the last race," Canard said. "I've worked on my overall intensity and hopefully that will translate to better racing. It's Texas so it's gonna be hot, which makes it more challenging, but I'm ready."
Metcalfe moved to the 450cc class for this year's Motocross Series and had a strong showing in Hangtown. The affable Australian stayed in the front pack in both motos and left town in fourth place.
Brett Metcalfe says: "I've been feeling really good on the 450 and I enjoy riding it," Metcalfe said. "We're going into Texas with the intention of improving what we did in Hangtown. My starts weren't what they needed to be if I want to reach the podium so that's been my focus in training."
Perhaps the hungriest rider on the team is Barcia, who isn't very pleased with his fifth-place ranking, which came on the heels of a less-than-perfect start in Sacramento.
Wharton is hoping for a rebound race after falling out of contention in Hangtown due to an accident. Racing in his home state with a huge crowd of supporters would seem to be the perfect remedy for the talented MX rider.