Daytona was a statement race for 2 Kawasaki riders, Eli Tomac and Garrett Marchbanks. For the first time in his career, Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki) is leading after Daytona. In 2017 and 2019, he left Daytona sitting in second and in 2015 and 2018 he sat in third position. He didn’t make any major mistakes in the first half of the season, reversing a trend we’d seen year in, year out. Eli Tomac has put himself in position to do what 27 out of 30 champions have done with the lead after Daytona – win the championship.
It’s not to say the racing is over. Eli Tomac currently holds a slim +3 point lead leaving Daytona compared to the average lead in the last 30 years which was +24 points. He won’t have the luxury of a bad race or two in the 2nd half of the season like many before him. For reference, the smallest lead was +2 points when Ricky Carmichael led Chad Reed in 2006 and the biggest lead leaving Daytona was +56 points when Jeremy McGrath was leading Mike Larocco in 1998. No question that Ken Roczen, Cooper Webb, and Justin Barcia will continue to fight for this title and a lot can happen over 7 rounds of racing.
What’s interesting to consider is that in the last 30 years, after Daytona, there’s been 11 series lead changes in 5 different years.
1 – 1990
6 – 1992
1 – 2009
2 – 2011
1 – 2017
1990 and 1992 are not great comparisons given Daytona was round 6/7 in those seasons. Looking at the other 3 seasons, it’s only 2009 that had a lead change that resulted in a different rider becoming the champion. With this in mind, it’s hard to imagine that riders like Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM) and Justin Barcia (Monster Energy Yamaha), down -29 and -31 points, have a shot at winning the title. They will need something abnormal to happen to both Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen (Honda HRC). It’s tough to imagine that scenario happening. But Ken Roczen is still in the hunt and he’s healthy and hungry. For the fans, I believe this is the most optimal scenario we could ask for entering the 2nd half of the season. It’s the two riders we’ve been expecting to battle for the title since 2016. The fact that neither of them have a 450 supercross title is one of the more surprising stats on the line.
Leaving Daytona, the momentum surely is in Eli Tomac’s favor. He’s won 3 of the last 4 races and in Daytona he was in 6th place at the end of the first lap, was down almost 10 seconds to Ken Roczen at the halfway mark, and came back to win. This is the 3rd race of the year where Tomac was far behind Roczen in the early stages of the race and ended up catching and passing him. In these three races (Anaheim 2, Oakland, and Daytona), Roczen has a Race +/- of -3 and it’s cost him -11 points in the championship. That has to weigh on Ken Roczen’s mind. Roczen hasn’t come out on the good side of late race battles this year. On the other hand, Ken Roczen leads the series with 5 holeshots, an average first lap position of 3, and 137 laps led. Ken Roczen continues to put himself in great position to win races and most importantly, stay out of harms way. While history doesn’t favor Ken Roczen winning the championship, the importance of racing in clean air can not be underestimated. Alas, consider that in the last 30 years, the 2nd place rider leaving Daytona hasn’t finished 1st or 2nd in 10 seasons (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015). When you have to push the envelope to pick up points you add risk to race. Who do you have winning the title?
Congrats to Garrett Marchbanks and the Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki crew. Marchbanks joins 3 other 125/250 riders that won their first supercross in Daytona (Dehoop 1988, Pastrana 2000, Musquin 2013). Marchbanks pulled the holeshot, led all 14 laps, and grabbed the maximum 26 points on the night. He now sits just 1 point back of RJ Hampshire (PulpMX Rockstar Husky) for 3rd place in the championship.
Hope you’re enjoying the weekly analysis. If you haven’t already, be sure to check-out the 450 mid-season advanced analytics report. It highlights the 5 key stats of the 450 season and has all the key stats for each rider and round through Atlanta. Thanks for reading!
250SX ADVANCED ANALYTICS
3 KEY STATS OF THE RACE
1st. Garrett Marchbanks (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) wins his first supercross in Daytona! He’s had some good rides this year but with a poor 7th place average first lap position, he’s not been in position to run with the front pack. In his 2nd season, this is a big milestone and likely a good boost of confidence. If nothing else, this signals he’s a consistent podium contender outdoors.
3 Rookies in the Top 10. The future is bright on the east coast. Pierce Brown (Troy Lee Designs Red Bull KTM) had 21st gate pick, came around the first lap in 5th position, and finished 6th. Jo Shimoda (GEICO Honda) came around the first lap in 10th position, moved forward +3 positions, and finished 7th. Jalek Swoll (Rockstar Husqvarna) had 19th gate pick, came around the first lap in 14th position, moved forward +5 positions, and finished 9th.
6 of 12 Podiums. The GEICO Honda team has 50% of the podiums 4 rounds into the season (compared to 1 of 18 over 6 rounds on the west coast). There was a lot made of the bike in 2019, but the trio of Chase Sexton, Jeremy Martin, and Jo Shimoda are demonstrating the team has made great strides in the off-season.
450SX ADVANCED ANALYTICS
3 KEY STATS OF THE RACE
+5. Eli Tomac moved forward another +5 positions in Daytona to add to a series leading +44 position changes. More importantly, he’s now the only rider this season with a perfect +10 Race +/-. While his abysmal 7th place average first lap position needs to improve, he’s demonstrated an ability to slice through the pack unlike any other rider on the gate.
-1. Ken Roczen added another -1 Race +/- to his season. His strength has clearly been heat races leading to good gate picks, holeshots, and first lap position, but his season total +4 Race +/- is relatively abysmal. It’s less than half Eli Tomac’s Race +/- and exactly half that of Cooper Webb and Justin Barcia. He’s got to put up a fight and win a late race battle if he’s going to win this championship.
16th. Ryan Sipes (KTM) finished 16th in his only appearance in supercross this year. He’s ridden 3 total main events since 2013 and qualifies 18th and makes it directly out of the heat race into the main event. While he got a horrible start in the main event (21st), he went on to move forward +5 positions, and grab 7 points putting him 28th in the championship . #respect