Main event winners Tomac and Lawrence recall 11th round in Indianapolis.
Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha’s Eli Tomac tightened his grip on the 450SX red plate at Lucas Oil Stadium with a fourth straight victory, as Jett Lawrence emerged on top of the 250SX East duel to secure victory number four in 2022. Both riders were available to the media following the race for this Debrief feature.
Eli, track question, I just went and walked it, I know you guys did, too. What was it like in real time as it was changing? Those opening laps, they fixed a lot of it. You guys were flying, and then it just went and it went and it went. What was it like for you about halfway to the checkered?
It was just good, old Indy. It’s one of those tracks where you can still do the rhythms, but it’s just sketchy, especially towards the end there and the whoops always go away. You’re trying to do the triples or the quad over the on/off. I dragged my pegs in there. That was the worst peg drag for me was actually on the quad over the on/off. That’s just the way this place is. You come here and you expect it.
How about the whoops swap there at the end?
Oh, yeah. At the very end. Started dancing. I just got out of the rut. Wheel was going back and forth, bouncing on the side. Then I totally almost threw it away on the last lap, missed the double across that start line area. I’m like, I’m going to blow it. That’s the way this track is, it just can come up and get you at any second.
The lappers, too, played a big role and they came pretty early. They hurt you a little bit. They helped you sometimes. How was it for you?
Yeah, it was both. Sometimes it hurt me and sometimes it helped me and it was such a short lap and with what that track does when it breaks down, you can’t really avoid it. There’s just guys everywhere.
These last couple rounds have been very soft, rutted, very technical, challenging tracks. You’ve been very solid. Moving teams this year, getting back to work with Gilly. Just curious about bike setup. For you, what has made these rounds come to you maybe a little easier? What is it that you appreciate about the setup and being on the Yamaha this year? Do you feel any advantages on that compared to your setup last year on a Kawasaki?
It’s been good in all conditions. Last weekend it wasn’t near as soft as this weekend, but there were still a little bit of ruts in there. It’s just worked in all conditions. I haven’t had to really touch much since probably round four, somewhere in there, three or four. That’s it. We’re just down to a couple clickers here and there for the tracks. It’s just a nice position to be in.
Similar question but on a different format. When we started the season off on those hard-packed tracks and everything was so fast and wide open, how is it physically for you when you come here and it’s more technical and you have to be way more precise with your line choices? Just physically and mentally, what’s the difference here compared to the west coast?
These tracks, they just take patience. The west coast tracks. yeah you can go wide open, you’re drifting around and moving around. These tracks, there’s always a fine line of when you can push and when you can’t, that’s just the east coast. It’s just a different style of track. I feel like these tracks my heart rate is a little bit lower. I think that’s just because you can’t be Wide Clyde the whole time.
Do you feel tomorrow morning physically drained a bit differently, or is it all the same still?
Every Sunday morning is horrible. I’m always cranked at night and you can’t get any sleep, and that’s it. You get two or three hours of sleep, still just revving from the night before.
Were you biding your time because the track is so difficult, waiting for things to change? It looked like you were just in the group for a while. Were you waiting, or that’s just the way the race played out?
It was kind of how the race played out. I was just going. To be honest, I was having a difficult time being right on the wheel because the dirt was sticking to the goggles so bad. I was actually afraid of losing all my tear-offs. So, I kind of backed off a little bit. I didn’t want to get way out of touch, but a little bit until whatever it was, halfway or just after that. Then that was it. So, first half I was worried about my goggles and was kind of taking it a little bit easy, but it’s a tough thing to manage.
From a championship point of view, at the moment 48 points (now 51 after Justin Barcia penalty applied for Anderson incident). That’s something incredible. Being able to potentially wrap this thing up at your home race in Colorado, is that a thought as well? Is that just something that you’re like, that would be super special?
It would be really special. We didn’t go there last year, and the year before or two years ago it was the loudest stadium I’ve been in. So, that would be really neat, but we’re a ways from that still. Yeah, it’s a great position to be in, but there’s a lot of racing left. You know how supercross is. Just try to play it weekend by weekend.
The show you and Cameron put on, a lot of back and forth, good battling. Just kind of take us through the way you processed it early, mid, and then late there. It looked like you made some pretty distinct decisions as you went along.
Yeah at the start, I sucked at the start. Cameron was on definitely a lot faster pace at the start, which I could feel that because every turn I could feel him there. So I’m like, okay, he’s doing obviously something. It was pretty clear he was skimming the whoops. I was already scared! I started jumping at the start [of the race]! I’m like, ‘oh gosh, this ain’t good.’ The whoops were actually not too bad. We had a really good battle. I had fun with that because we had the respect for each other to race clean. I mean we would get close to each other but our intention is to never take each other out. At the start, Cameron rode so good that even he got me and gapped me out. I’m like, damn it, I don’t like this. I’ve got to get a bit closer to him so I have some type of chance. Those lappers were pretty gnarly tonight. I ended up getting some type of luck with that. I think we both had some good luck and bad luck with lappers and that because they were pretty gnarly. The track was so rutted tonight. We were following each other in a lot of turns just because that was the best line in that turn. So, it was a fun race, I had a blast. I think even if I got second, Cameron rode phenomenal. It was awesome, it was a really good fun race.
That rhythm after the whoops, you were having some problems there about the first half. You had a big one about halfway through. What was that like for you, the decision on what line to take because it seemed like both were causing problems at times?
Yeah. I think we both were thinking if we can at least get that clean each time, because it was so hard to get that rhythm. We know if we can get triple and then get the quad after, there was a good few tenths on each other. I know if one of us clipped it or cased it or not got the quad, there was some good breathing room. I cased it once behind him because I was kind of changing my line because I followed him and got all sketchy and doubled. I tried changing my line then cased it. Then I got out in front and I’m like, okay, I’ve got to get a bit of a safety gap and try it again, and cased it even harder! So I’m like, okay, I guess we’re doing double-three-on tonight. It was tricky, I like the track changing like that. It kind of makes you think a lot more instead of if it’s a more hard-pack track where you can get everything easily each lap where you just kind of click off the same lap times and not have to change anything. It makes it more exciting racing because you have to adapt to that rhythm quickly.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody come all the way back from a crash in the first heat race and win the heat race. Did that help lessen the pressure for you on a gnarly track, or did that make you more cautious for the rest of the night?
I mean it’s hard to tell, because the first turn is always gnarly. I can’t really blame anyone on that, because it’s the first turn. Everyone is going in there, everyone can see the first turn, they think they have it. It was a sucky situation, but that’s racing. I think it kind of helped me find different lines, I could say, coming through knowing I could maybe get someone here, kind of learning the track more because when you are out front you kind of stick to your main line and don’t really think as much because you are just hitting the main line, especially that early in the night because the track isn’t as rough as the main event. It kind of helped me towards the main in case I had not good start or went in behind someone. So, I think that definitely helped me out. I was very grateful that I was able to get back to the first position. I think if [Pierce] Brown didn’t crash, I think I would have been second for the heat race. Sadly, Brown went down. It was a bit of Lady Luck for me. Hated seeing that crash. Thankfully, he walked away from that one, because that one was pretty gnarly. Hopefully he is good to race next weekend.
Whoops section tonight, you talked about the first couple laps jumping through them and trying to figure out what you were going to do. Racing Cameron, he is pretty infamous for being fifth gear wide in whoops, he’s really strong in them. What did it take you to get those figured out as the main went along? Was it growing a pair, or did you have to change up your technique, find right line as it was breaking down?
I started off with jumping and then once Cameron got around me skimming, I’m like, okay. Damn, I’ve got to do this now. I wasn’t quite sure how edgy they were. But, I watched him go through and he was hitting them really good consistently. I’m like, okay, obviously that’s the line. I kind of followed him for a few laps and found the same line. I was like, this is a good line to take, if you have no one in front of you. Everyone knows Cameron is in the fifth gear giving the berries through the whoops, and you can tell, he gets that whoops speed up. It makes it more fun, I feel like, for me because there’s not as many people very fast in the whoops on a 250 because it is so difficult. I think definitely Cam and I are up there for the faster whoop 250 riders. So, it makes it more exciting, more fun racing. You could say I had to grow a set and kind of skim through the main after jumping the first few laps.
When Cameron passed you in that main event, what’s your mindset? How do you stay cool and not over-ride it and panic and make a pass into something worse and crash out? How do you stay mentally in it and be able to make passes and come back. Can you just talk about that a little bit?
The mentality kind of changes to, what’s he doing better here now? Even once he got me, I made a few more mistakes, with casing that three in, and casing another triple. So I was a bit all over the place, I made a couple mistakes. But, once he got me I was kind of seeing, where is he better at and where am I better at? To kind of know if I can just get close enough or just put a front wheel, show a fender somewhere, to where it might put him off his fast line and more into defending. When I was out front, I was more focusing on hitting my lines, but once he got me it was kind of more to where is he better at? That’s probably what I was mainly thinking of, and then obviously once I found out where he was better, where I was better, it was kind of just figuring out how to make a pass happen in the sections I’m better and then where he’s better than me.
Last year in this stadium you had some big crashes and it sort of knocked you out of the championship hunt for last year. Then after the turn one crash, were you getting up thinking, ‘this is not my stadium?’ It was kind of trending the wrong direction.
No, I didn’t think that. It was probably more so, ‘I’m going to make this my stadium.’ As soon as you think that, ‘this is not my stadium,’ it already defeats you mentally. Running back to the bike, it was like, is everything okay, am I okay and kind of, this is how it starts, let’s see where we get to, and see how many positions we can get. Last year sucked a lot here, but I think you’ve got to have those lessons. They’re harsh, but I think it just shows that I wasn’t ready last year for a championship, where Colt and Christian were. They were a lot more smart with their decisions, I was still just being a little kid trying to go all out each race, which wasn’t smart. This stadium is special, because it really showed I have learned from last year, is also a place where I felt like it turned me to stop being an idiot and sending it each time, because otherwise, you’re going to end up in a hospital bed either every weekend or maybe for life.