2011 Monster Energy Cup
In his first professional race on a Honda 450cc motorcycle, GEICO Honda pro Eli Tomac impressed everyone with an overall fifth-place finish Saturday night at the Monster Energy Cup Million Dollar Race at Sam Boyd Stadium.
After qualifying for the trio of 10-lap main event races in the first heat of the night, Tomac racked up finishes of fifth, fourth and 10th place. His point total was equal to that of fourth-place finisher Martin Davalos, who took the better spot due to a better finish in the last race.
Eli Tomac (GEICO Honda CRF450R) says: "I had a lot of fun and gained a ton of experience. It couldn’t have gone much better.
"Qualifying for the mains in the first heat worked out well because it allowed me to rest up and watch the other guys race the course. It was fast but hard to pass people. There were only a few spots you could get around guys.
"First race went okay. I was back in eighth or ninth, riding a little tight, but I managed to get up to fifth, so that gave me a lot of confidence. Second race was my best…just totally loose and fun riding. I was ready to pick it up even more in the third but I got hit from behind in the first turn at the start and I went down. I was playing catch-up the rest of the way and finished 10th, which made me fifth overall. A pretty cool deal."
Legend Kevin Windham was the obvious crowd favorite at driver intros but tough starts in the first two qualifiers forced him to earn his spot in the mains via the Last Chance Qualifier. By then he’d already completed 18 laps on the hybrid Supercross/Motocross course and he entered the money races with a less-than-desirable gate position.
Tangles with other riders and a few falls later, Windham had fashioned finishes of 15th, 14th and 12th for an overall ranking of 13th place.
Kevin Windham (GEICO Honda CRF450R) says: "Pretty much nothing went right the whole day. The course didn’t lend itself to close racing and the starts became very important. I had to push it and I got tangled up with other guys. Once the leaders got away it was just impossible to catch up. I made some passes and rode fairly well but it was always from behind."
Newly-signed team member Zach Bell won the first Amateur All-Stars race and came in fourth in the second for an overall fourth-place result. The top four riders all earned the same amount of points but by rule, the finishing order of the second race breaks all ties.
Zach Bell (GEICO Honda) says: "I went down at the start of the second race and got up as quick as I could and started chasing. I pretty much caught that front group when Jessy Nelson went wide on me down that front stretch and I had so much speed up that I lost control and wrecked out. I still got back up to fourth but ran out of laps. One more lap and I would have won the overall but I’m still happy with the way I rode."
Tomac, Windham and Justin Barcia next ride Oct.28-30 in Paris.