By Brendan Lutes
Fresh off an amazing season where he won the West Coast Lites championship and came very close to clinching the outdoor title, Geico Honda’s Eli Tomac turned in a very impressive ride at this past weekend’s Monster Energy Cup in Las Vegas. After crashing big in the second practice session, though, Tomac was forced to battle through the night with a sore shoulder that ultimately hindered him in the opening main event of the night. Once he was warmed up, he then went on to win the final main of the night and wrap up third overall for the weekend, collecting a cool $20,000 for his night’s work. With a few days to reflect on his performance, we hit him up to get his thoughts on the weekend.
You had a pretty good weekend at the Monster Energy Cup. What are your thoughts on it?
It started off good. I felt awesome in the first practice then in the second practice I had a pretty big crash. I cased a triple over tabletop deal, got whiskey throttle, went flying off a berm, and smashed my shoulder. That kind of took the edge off of the day. Then the main events came around, and I didn’t get the best starts in the first two. It just kind of felt like I was riding around, but I ended up getting fourth in both of those. In the third, it felt like I loosened up a little more and my shoulder felt better. That’s what helped me take the win in that one.
So you didn’t actually injure your shoulder in the crash, did you?
No, I just smashed my shoulder. It felt like I had a massive dead arm. I was really sore, and it just took a little while for it to calm down and get loosened up.
How was it riding the 450? Did you get much time on it before the race?
I’ve been riding a 450 quite a bit. I rode one once or twice a week during the summer, so I’ve been on the bike a lot lately. For the Monster Cup, I was able to hop on a works bike, which was really cool.
Of the three main events, you mentioned that your shoulder felt better in the third one. Did it bother you in the first two main events?
The first one, I was just a little timid. Actually in the first two motos, I could have been a little more aggressive. I’ll blame it on my shoulder in the first one, but the second one, I didn’t really have an excuse. In the third one, I was able to start with some faster-paced guys up front, so I felt more like myself. I also had the Joker Lane dialed in. I took it early and it ended up working out. I was running faster laps early on [after taking the lane] to try and catch the guys up front.
When it came to that Joker Lane, did you have it planned out beforehand when you would take it, or did you decide while you were racing?
I think most guys wanted to take it as late as they could and I thought that was everyone’s plan. It actually worked out, though, that it was better to take it earlier, because you could get it done early, then pin it and run faster laps than everyone else. That’s what I did in the last main.
Is this your last year aboard a 250?
Yeah, this is my last year. I’ll be doing 250 West Coast to try and defend the number one plate. Outdoors, I’m still trying to work on that. I want to ride a 450, but I’ll probably be stuck on the 250. I’d hop on that 450 right now if I could—full time.
What do you have going on now that the season is officially over?
I’m here in Colorado right now getting my new Supercross track built by Mark Barnett and Glen Bates. Next week, I’m flying Italy to do the Genova Supercross and then Bercy also, so I have two European races coming up. I did Bercy last year, but I haven’t done the Italy race before. The Italy one is only one night, but Bercy is three nights.
Do you enjoy doing the races overseas?
Yeah, absolutely. I get to ride the 450 again, so that’s a plus [laughs]. It’s just cool to go and do something different. I haven’t been to Italy before, so we’ll make it into a vacation almost and look around a little bit.