Sunday, Sunday, Sunday. It felt good to have racing back and there’s something nostalgic about it being on a Sunday. That felt particularly good given everything happening in the world these days. Racing feels like a bit of a getaway and reprieve from some harsh realities. I hope you enjoy a quick break diving into this weekends advanced analytics.
I lost a bet on Twitter (congrats Kaleb!) after saying that the 1st lap leader would win both main events. The track was simple and relatively one lined and that’s typically a recipe for a ‘boring’ race. This held true for the 250 race where Shane McElrath (Star Racing Yamaha) led wire-to-wire, but I hadn’t expected Blake Baggett (Rocky Mountain ATV/MC KTM) to grab a holeshot and lead the first 11 laps of the 450 race.
Baggett’s only gotten 10 holeshots in 113 career starts. In the 10 times he’s pulled the holeshot, his best finish is a 3rd (2x, SLC in 2018 and SD in 2020) and he averages a 6th place finish. With a 7th place finish, he did what history said he’d do. Similarly, the title contenders did what we expected.
Eli Tomac (Monster Energy Kawasaki), Ken Roczen (HRC Honda), and Cooper Webb (Red Bull KTM) demonstrated they are the class of the class. Each qualified strong, did well in their heat races and got solid starts in the main event. But it was Eli Tomac that once again reasserted that he’s the alpha male. He started in fourth but was passed by Webb and Roczen about 5 minutes into the race. Unlike the Eli of the past, he collected himself, charged back and repassed them both en route to moving into first place just before the halfway mark.
Eli has now won 4 of the last 5 races and seems to have the momentum in his corner. One thing that’s particular interesting is that Eli’s starts have dramatically improved throughout the season. Amazingly, he doesn’t have a single holeshot. However, in the first 6 races, he averaged a 9th place 1st lap position. The last 5 rounds he’s averaged a 4th place 1st lap position. It’s clear that he’s improving one of his primary weak points throughout the season.
Eli Tomac is changing the narrative of his career this season. He’s only finished outside the Top 5 once and off the podium on 4 occassions. In races we’d expect him to struggle, he’s recovered and charged back to the front (see Atlanta and Daytona). He’s doing what Cooper Webb did in 2019, Jason Anderson in 2018, and the Ryan’s before them. He’s putting in consistently strong performances every, single, week.
Fun fact… there’s only been 6 seasons with a lead change after round 11 (1983, 1990, 1992, 2009, 2011, 2017). Do you think we’ll see a lead change before the end of 2020?
Hope you enjoy the column. It’s fun to take a unique look at the sport each week and share a new angle or two. Hit me up to bench race @3lapsdown.
450SX ADVANCED ANALYTICS
- Blake Baggett’s the 8th rider to lead laps in 2020. That said, Eli Tomac (85) and Ken Roczen (137) have led 73% of main event laps.
- Eli Tomac is the only rider to finish better than he started in EVERY round this year for a +11 Race +/-.
- Happy to hear Adam Cianciarulo’s injuries aren’t too bad. That looked brutal and could’ve been so much worse. He’s got a season total -31 position changes, 2nd worse behind Vince Friese’s season leading -45. Hopefully we see this improve over the final 6 rounds.
250 ADVANCED ANALYTICS
- Shane McElrath had a perfect day. He qualified 1st, won his heat race, got the holeshot, led the first lap and the next 21, had the fastest lap of the main event, and took the win. #dominate
- As impressive as McElrath’s race was, Pierce Brown (Troy Lee Designs Red Bull KTM) had just as impressive a performance. In only his 3rd supercross race, he crashed on the first lap and was in 21st position. He then went on to pass 16 riders en route to a 5th place finish. While his lap times weren’t on par with the leaders, Pierce just demonstrated he’s going to be a future title contender.
- Kyle Peters (Phoenix Racing Honda) also had a great day of racing. He was buried in 13th on the first lap and charged forward for a 6th place finish to take top privateer on the day.