EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Simon Cudby photo —
In Saturday’s penultimate round of the 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, season at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, GEICO Honda’s Eli Tomac proved that the show wasn’t all about Ryan Dungey.
Tomac surged around early race leader and fellow Honda rider Cole Seely with seven laps to go in the 20-lap 450SX main event and ran away over the final stretch, going on to score his third win of the 2015 season and the third of his Supercross career.
The event was the first-ever Supercross round to be broadcast live on network television on FOX.
BTO Sports KTM’s Andrew Short kicked off the 20-lap scramble by racing to the SupercrossLive.com Holeshot award ahead of Team Honda HRC rookie Cole Seely and Toyota/JGRMX Yamaha’s Justin Barcia, however Seely bolted to the top spot before the end of the first lap as behind him, 2015 champion and Red Bull/KTM stalwart Dungey got off to a slow start, mired in seventh at the end of lap one.
He wouldn’t stay there for long, however. By the end of the third lap, Dungey had stormed up to the third position ahead of a fierce battle from fifth through seventh between Short, Barcia and Team Yoshimura/Suzuki Factory Racing’s Blake Baggett.
That fight would get ugly a lap later, when Barcia and Baggett made contact through a whoops section that sent Barcia crashing to the dirt and to a 20th-place result in the final box score. Baggett would continue and ultimately finish just off the podium in fourth.
At the halfway mark of the event, it was Seely leading Tomac and Dungey, but over the next four laps, Tomac would methodically cut into Seely’s lead as the two Hondas worked lap traffic before finally making the cut to the top spot at lap 14 — never looking back from there.
“Honestly, [my body position] wasn’t really there on the start today,” Tomac admitted atop the podium. “I just snuck around the inside, and luckily it was a 180 [degree turn] so I was able to make it work.”
“This is one of the most technical tracks we’ve had all year, with the soft dirt and the ruts, so it made for good lines and I was able to make good runs on guys. Me and Cole had a good battle there for about half the race, and it was a lot of fun.”
Though Dungey would get around Seely for the runner-up spot a lap later — taking his 15th consecutive 450SX class podium as a result — he would be no match for Tomac’s GEICO Honda, coming up 12.805 seconds shy at the checkered flag.
“Those last five laps, we were really putting [on] a charge and both me and Eli were having to come back through the pack,” Dungey explained. “I followed him through, made some good passes — which I’m happy about — but at five to go I started making some mistakes. The track got really nasty so I just kind of settled in. No excuses though. Eli ran a great race today and was on it all day.”
“First is good [and what we always shoot for], but second’s right there. I can’t thank the whole team enough. The schedule was different today, but it was exciting and shows that sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit to go for it and I was happy that our [Supercross] community did that this weekend.”
Seely scored the fifth podium of his rookie season by coming home third behind the two veteran riders. Baggett and Short would round out the top five, the last riders on the lead lap at the finish.
The 2015 Monster Energy AMA Supercross season concludes next week with Round 17 from Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, where Dungey will officially claim his second Supercross championship and the final winner of the year will celebrate atop the podium.