Features 8 Mar 2022

Debrief: 2022 Supercross Rd9 Daytona

Main event winners Tomac and Lawrence recall ninth round in Florida.

Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Eli Tomac won a historic sixth Daytona Supercross on Saturday night to further extend his 450SX points advantage, as Jett Lawrence returned to the top step in 250SX East making it two wins from three races in 2022. Both riders were available to the media following the race for this Debrief feature. 


Image: Octopi Media.

Eli, you’ve had to have been hearing it all week long and definitely all day, the sixth, getting that sixth one. Now that you do have it and we’re past it, what does it feel like to stand alone with that record and know that that’s a record that will be hard to break, with you starting your winning run there so long ago?

It’s really unreal, I think back on it, I just think of this place and it’s one of those places where it’s either good for you or it’s not. It’s just been really good for me. Today though, I had a lot of doubt in my mind, to be honest, I was not feeling great in practice. I was dinking with clickers and going back and forth on stuff, I felt like I had my work cut out for me. But once the lights came on, I don’t know, it was like everything started working again. Six is crazy.

The last couple laps you were catching up to Coop [Cooper Webb]. It was kind of yo-yo back and forth a little bit. What were you thinking there with maybe two or three to go? Did you have a spot? Did you think you had a spot? He was holding pretty tight.

Yeah, it was a yo-yo. The problem is I thought I was catching him a little bit in the whoops but then he would pull me actually after that, I think around the finish line and then even a little bit before the whoops through the tunnel. So, I could never really get really close to him and then that lap that the pass happened, I was a little bit closer and then obviously it was a gift on the exit of the whoops. It was crazy wire to wire, we were just on rails really that whole race.

I think this is the most points you’ve had leaving round nine on your 450 career. So, can you talk about just the championship and then obviously the little bit of shake-up with Jason [Anderson] back there? You gained a lot of points on him leaving today.

It’s just racing and we put ourselves in a good position. I credit that to everyone around me. That’s it period. Just a good group as a whole and thankful to do it here tonight with the win.

Was there any point in that race where you were looking to the championship? Were you going to settle for second or the whole time did you just want to get that win? Can you talk us through that mindset there?

I was thinking that, I even glanced up at the big tower to see where Jason was, and then when I saw that it was like, second, I may have to settle with that. At the same time, Daytona, anything can happen. I kind of kept trucking along, and that was it. I never felt like I was in a position getting too wild or too crazy. Just trying to stay on Cooper’s wheel as much as I could.

Towards the end of that moto, we seen the bike was starting to get hot coolant coming out. Did the team allude to you at all that this was happening? Did you ever have the thought, we might need to back this thing down and run it home for points? Or did you know anything about that?

I had no idea. They did mention it to me afterwards, but it was probably that sand, that sand and the way the whole track is. It’s just a beast, it’s like the Southwick of supercross. It’s torn up, the ruts are all crazy. Before the tunnel jump, the rut was more than above the pegs. We were making this tiny lip on the side. It was putting the bikes to the test.

Going in behind Coop into that sand corner, were you able to see at all?

It was just a sandblast. You can kind of see and you’re just hoping that the rut doesn’t go away. The right-hander was the sketchy one, for sure, it was getting a big hook in it, a big hockey-stick rut in it. You get sprayed in that turn, really bad, as much as it covers your hands. You can feel it on your grips and your hands. That section is tough.

At the start of that one, you kind of got stuck in the middle of the stuff that was going on between Mookie [Malcolm Stewart] and Jason. Was there a point there where you kind of just sat back and let it play out in front of you? Because obviously what happened afterwards happened.

Yeah, turn two was just sketchy, it was like a big sandwich. I went in and I tried to half guard the inside, it’s always tough to know how far you need to go inside on that second turn. I came in and I ended up bumping into Malcolm, and then Jason came inside of me and bumped me. Then it was kind of a little bit of an explosion and Malcolm went flying off the track. That was it. I was just in a sandwich. Turn two is always like that for us in supercross. There’s always some sort of contact, it seems like, lucky to get out of that one clean.

Obviously, you saw the chaos and the excitement from the crowd out there. I would argue that winning your sixth here is as big or bigger than winning a supercross title. Can you comment on that? How close is this? That was crazy.

It doesn’t top the title, but it’s very cool, and that’s it. I don’t know what it is with this place, but it’s just worked for me. It’s clicked for me. That’s the mindset you have to have here and how you have to go about the day here. It was so cool. That was the biggest crowd we’ve had here and with the best energy. Like, not even close, it was cool to see.

I know in every race there’s sketchy moments. You guys were talking about the track. There was a moment watching it on TV coming out of the whoops where you got really sideways, maybe four or five minutes left, and you still did the triple afterwards. Do moments like that stand out post-race? Do you even remember that moment? What was your heart rate like?

I remember it a little bit, it was a pretty good step out, but not anything that was like, ‘Oh, my. I need to change up my line’. Maybe it looked worse, I felt like I was okay in there for what it was.

Did you guys notice a difference once you guys were able to go through the practice and through the different heats, between that last heat and the main event, did you guys notice any difference in your mindset when you headed into the main event?

Yeah, this track is a whole other beast. It changes the whole night, the whole day and I would say this year specifically, it was even more broken down by the end of the night. Bigger ruts, more lines and just super challenging.

One of the things that I seem to think that you do very well at this particular race is being smooth but also very aggressive. Speak to that a little bit of just how tricky this place can be to still be smooth on the racetrack when still pushing.

That’s how you have to ride here, I think it’s because it has so much sand in it, it’s like rushing things a lot of times doesn’t work and you have to focus on like momentum and traction and not making a mistake. There’s so many places when it gets torn up like this where you can make the mistake right, and guys can sneak away. Here you’ve got to master the sand and think about traction.


Image: Octopi Media.

Jett, Daytona is a big one, a lot of attention, you can kind of feel it all week long. For you, there’s races you want to win. You’d love to win them all, but how special is it for you to win this one, with all the hype around it and the attention that it gets and the history that it has? What’s it feel like?

It’s a cool experience, I think even without winning it the first time here, I think it’s a great experience to have just with the fans being there. It feels as close as we can get to feeling like a NASCAR race, almost. It’s in the same area, we might not be going as fast [Laughs], but it’s definitely damn close. It was a really cool experience, I mean, always a kid, I can say I’ve been dreaming of at least riding this Daytona track. I think today just really topped it off with a win, so I’m pretty pumped.

If you were to put a rating one through ten on your burnout attempt after, what number would you give it?

I’d give it a three, it was terrible [Laughs]. I almost snapped some guy’s femur through the gate. I thought it was a lot more solid. I went into it and the thing moved back a couple of feet.

Quite a few attempts, too, right, trying to get it?

Yeah, I need to work on those if I ever do another one.

Pretty quiet main event for you, you had a decent lead. Tell us a little bit about navigating yourself through some lap traffic, as well as being able to select your favorite line all the way around.

It definitely made my life a lot easier, for an easier night. Stilez [Robertson] was there for a very long time, it felt like it was for more than ten minutes. I could see him out of the corner of my eyes at each U-turn so I knew he was there, and it was good because it was keeping me focused. Those lappers, it was tight, especially on that far other side, the more tighter sections, it was a lot harder to get around them, because we’re using all the track just because it’s so tight. Like what Cameron said, you would cut out early and then they would be in the main line but then you were on the outside the next time, so I kind of got a little bit screwed a couple times. Got stuck behind some lappers, but most of the time they were pretty okay and got out of the way, otherwise, I would start yelling at them [Laughs]. But it was definitely a nice, calm weekend. A lot better than last weekend, at least I can go to sleep easier tonight.

You had a crazy weekend last weekend, are you feeling the effects of any of that crash this week?

No, I definitely got very lucky with that crash and landed in some soft stuff. I mean hit my chest pretty hard, at that point but it was more like it hurt two laps after the crash. I felt it a little bit later that night, next day I was a little sore, but all this week I’ve been perfectly fine. Breathing-wise I’ve been okay and didn’t really get too affected, to be honest. My riding, it didn’t really put in a dent in that, riding has been feeling really good, the bike has been feeling very forgiving and wanting to go fast, which is always nice. Felt safe on the bike. So, I don’t think it really affected me much last weekend from this weekend.

What do you do to put that all behind you? You led every lap this weekend. What do you do to put that behind you and just go out and crush it this weekend?

I don’t know. I mean it’s hard to put away, you could say, but at the end of the day you just have to be the bigger man and just kind of put that behind. People keep bringing it up. Just get over, it was last weekend’s. We’re on to this weekend. It’s Daytona.

Talk about that white flag incident where you obviously thought it was the chequered. Then coming back to it, when you finished, was that the flagger that you went back to and hugged afterwards that was waving you on?

Yes. That was definitely not one of my brightest ones, you could say. I thought I was finished and then I looked at the flagger and I’m like, he’s looking a little agro right now, yelling at me. He’s waving his arms, waving the flag like, ‘Go, go, go!’ I look back and I see Stilez landing on the finish line and just dump the clutch. I’m like, oh no! Get going, get going! So, it wasn’t my brightest moment, you could say. After the race I went up to the two guys like, ‘Who was the one who was telling me to go? Because that saved my life tonight.’ So, I kind of screwed some of the guys in the qualifying because we were a slower time, so that’s my bad, I could say. I did give one of the flaggers who was waving and telling me to get my ass going, I gave him a hug and said thanks to him.