SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In a groundbreaking Wednesday night Monster Energy AMA Supercross event, Red Bull KTM’s Cooper Webb took the 450SX class win inside Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Fighting back from a mid-pack start, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac was right on Webb’s rear wheel at the end, with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing’s Zach Osborne, who led 20 of the 27 laps, rounding out the podium in third place.
In the Eastern Regional 250SX Class, Monster Energy/Star Yamaha’s Shane McElrath grabbed his third win of the year, pulling himself into a tie in the championship points.
Osborne grabbed the holeshot in the 450SX class main event with Webb back in fourth, Tomac buried in 11th, and Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen losing a gamble with a far-inside gate pick and exiting the first corner in 16th place.
Roczen made moves quickly, blitzing the whoops and passing both Tomac and Smartop/BullFrog Spas/Motoconcepts Honda’s Justin Hill in one move while Webb climbed to second. For over eight intense minutes Roczen and Tomac battled each other as they climbed through the pack; Tomac finally broke free of the Honda rider and set his sights on the front.
With 3:40 left on the clock, Webb got around Osborne for the lead; just over a minute later Tomac was also around Osborne and quickly closed on Webb. But Webb kept his composure and held the Kawasaki rider off to grab his second win of the season, his ninth 450SX Class career victory. The win also breaks a sort of round 12 curse in which Webb had never before podiumed at the round.
With 29 points to make up in the five remaining rounds, Webb will need more strong performances and a few lucky breaks to successfully defend his Supercross title. Second in the points, Ken Roczen, dropped to 13 points back with a disappointing fifth-place finish.
“It was a great night overall, to get a second off the start. Zach was really riding well there at the beginning. I was trying to put in just some good, good laps, and I could see Eli was kinda coming to catch us,” Webb said. “At the end I knew I needed to get around him and try to break away. And yeah, it was a tough race, track conditions were definitely tricky. You had to be patient out there. The whoops were tough; I just committed to my line from the beginning and it played out pretty well, so it was a great, great night. To get a win, it’s awesome. These are not easily gained, especially with the top guys up here tonight. So, I want just soak it in.”
In Eastern Regional 250SX class racing, McElrath took the win in the sixth round of the regional division; it was McElrath’s fourth consecutive win at the venue.
The holeshot went to McElrath’s Monster Energy/Star Yamaha Racing teammate Colt Nichols, who led for the first six of twenty laps and finished in second. Third on the podium was GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin. After a sixth-place start, points leader GEICO Honda’s Sexton began moving toward the front, but one minute into the race Sexton washed out his front wheel on a corner entrance and went down.
The mistake was compounded when Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM’s Pierce Brown, with nowhere to go, came to a stop atop Sexton’s bike. The Honda rider remounted in 17th position and charged hard to reach fourth place. The finish put the two top riders, McElrath and Sexton, tied in points with two more Eastern Regional 250SX rounds plus the points-paying East/West Showdown to determine the 2020 champion.
After the win, McElrath and his teammate pretended to wave to the stadium fans, having a little fun in light of the extraordinary measures taken to complete the full 17-round Supercross series, which includes a stadium devoid of fans.
“We gotta make the fans feel like they’re here,” McElrath joked. “We had a tough day, all day around. It was just – this track’s pretty tough. But we did a lot of praying, did a lot of focusing and it was nice to come out like that. I just, my prayer and my wife’s prayer was just, ‘I wanna give it my all tonight and whatever happens after that happens.’ And man, it’s good.”