Chase Sexton and Eli Tomac traded moto wins at the Tucker Freight Lines Ironman National, from which Sexton prevailed triumphant via tiebreaker in what has been a historic battle for the Edison Dye Cup.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship travelled to the motorsports hotbed of the greater Indianapolis area for the 11th and penultimate round of the 50th anniversary season at Crawfordsville’s Ironman Raceway.
The opening premier class moto started with Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Christian Craig leading the field through the first turn for the MotoSport.com Holeshot. However, he was soon passed by Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen as Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha’s Shan McElrath slotted into third. Tomac and Sexton started outside the top five and top 10, respectively.
As Roczen sprinted out to an early lead of more than two seconds, Tomac made an impressive charge up to second where he passed McElrath, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ryan Dungey, and Craig to put Roczen in his crosshairs. As Tomac made his move toward the lead Sexton responded with a charge into the top five, where he settled in behind Dungey.
As Sexton looked to break his way into the top three, Tomac pressured Roczen for the lead 10 minutes into the moto. Sexton made the pass on Craig for third as Tomac began looking for alternate lines to get around Roczen. Tomac was persistent and made the pass stick with nearly 18 minutes left. The Yamaha rider quickly opened a lead as Roczen and Sexton began a battle for second, from which Sexton made an easy pass on his teammate and looked to chip away at a 2.5 second deficit to Tomac as the moto reached its halfway point.
As they entered the final 10 minutes of the moto, mere bike lengths sat between Tomac and Sexton. Lapped riders factored into the fight for the lead as the momentum between both riders ebbed and flowed. Sexton was patient and pulled the trigger on an impressive outside-to-inside move that allowed him to cut under Tomac and take control of the moto with just over five minutes remaining. With the lead in hand, Sexton started to pull away from Tomac. A late push by Tomac saw him close back in with 90 seconds to go and was soon followed by an outside pass for the lead in the same section of the track where Sexton made his pass.
Tomac dropped the hammer and posted his fastest lap of the moto as time ran out on the clock, which allowed him to open a four-second lead. Sexton made a last-ditch effort to close in, but it wasn’t enough as Tomac took his 11th moto win of the season by 1.5 seconds. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger finished a distant third, more than half a minute behind the leaders, followed by Dungey in fourth and Craig in fifth.
The final moto saw Sexton seize the moment to grab the MotoSport.com Holeshot, but he was soon passed by Roczen. Dungey slotted into third, with Tomac fourth and Plessinger fifth. The Honda teammates duked it out for the lead briefly, but Sexton got the edge and moved back out front. Roczen tucked in behind in second as Tomac made the pass for third and looked to wage battle with the red riders ahead of him.
Sexton was able to open a lead of more than three seconds in the opening 10 minutes of the moto as Roczen served as a buffer to his teammate. While his deficit to Sexton continued to grow, Tomac didn’t put a wheel wrong and tactfully made the pass on Roczen. A little more than four seconds separated Sexton and Tomac once the Yamaha rider moved into the runner-up spot.
The distance between the leaders hovered around five seconds for several laps before Tomac picked up the pace as the moto surpassed the halfway point. Tomac posted his fastest lap of the moto, but Sexton responded one lap later with his own personal best to sustain the advantage. As Tomac continued to try and chip away at the deficit, the battle for third heated up behind him as Roczen and Plessinger engaged in battle, from which Plessinger emerged with the position.
Back up front, the gap between first and second dropped to less than two seconds as Sexton navigated lapped riders, sometimes to Tomac’s benefit. As they approached the final five minutes of the moto Tomac closed the deficit to a second and had Sexton within striking distance. A bobble by Tomac halted his momentum briefly and allowed Sexton to pull back out to a three second lead. Behind this battle up front, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson was on a charge through the field that saw him easily pass Plessinger for third.
Sexton looked to cement his hold of the lead with another quick lap, which dropped Tomac six seconds behind. The lead continued to grow as time ran out on the moto. Sexton closed out his eighth moto win of the season by 11.2 seconds over Tomac. Anderson crossed the line in third but was penalized one position for an off-track excursion where he was deemed to have gained an advantage. That moved Plessinger into third.
In trading moto wins, Sexton (2-1) and Tomac (1-2) finished tied atop the overall standings, but the second-moto tiebreaker gave the Honda rider his fourth victory of the season and his third win in the past four races. Tomac’s fourth straight runner-up finish extended his overall podium streak to 10 races, while Plessinger (3-3) earned his second podium result of the year.
With equal points for the afternoon, a single point still separates Tomac and Sexton in the championship standings in what is now the closest title fight in the history of the sport. The landmark battle will come down to the final two motos of the season.
“I finally got a good start [in Moto 2] and I just tried to sprint away. I got a good gap and got into lappers and made some mistakes and then Eli closed in. It was hot today and the track was rough, but I kept my head down and kept digging and we pulled it off,” said Sexton.
450 Class Overall Results (Moto Finish // Points)
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-1 // 47)
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha (1-2 // 47)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (3-3 // 40)
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki (6-4 // 33)
- Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha (5-5 // 32)
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM (4-7 // 32)
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (7-6 // 29)
- Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Husqvarna (11-8 // 23)
- Fredrik Noren, Sweden, KTM (9-10 // 23)
- Dean Wilson, Scotland, Husqvarna (13-9 // 20)
450 Class Championship Standings (Round 11 of 12)
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Yamaha – 496
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 495
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, N.M., Kawasaki – 402
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 373
- Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 335
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plaine, Minn., KTM – 332
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 294
- Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 272
- Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, Ga., Kawasaki – 222
- Shane McElrath, Canton, N.C., Husqvarna – 197