The Monster Energy Cup is arguably the most high-stakes off-season race every year with its one-million dollar payout and unique format. Adding to the anticipation this year was the fact that four former winners would be lining up, including last year’s winner, Marvin Musquin, and the inaugural event winner, Ryan Villopoto, who had emerged from retirement. Lap times were tight all day long and when the sun set and the lights dimmed, the stage was set for an exciting main event. Would anyone be able to pull off all three wins for the big prize? Read on to find out…
CUP CLASS | MOTO ONE
Joey Savatgy snaked through the inside line of the first turn on his Monster Energy Kawasaki and took control of the race in his debut in the 450 class. The rookie rider seemed comfortable at the head of the field and lead the first two laps of the race until teammate Eli Tomac launched into the sand pit and into the lead. Tomac's pace in the moto was the fastest of anyone in the field, evident in his 1:05.830 lap time, and he was able to pull clear of the pack thanks to the length of time it took Marvin Musquin and Jason Anderson to get by Savatgy. Tomac cruised through the final lap, hit the Joker Lane with a commanding lead, and nabbed the first moto win of the night over Musquin and Anderson.
SUPERMINI CLASS | MOTO ONE
Ryder DeFrancesco nabbed the holeshot and led the pack of SuperMini riders out of the stadium, but disaster struck when he crashed from the landing of the massive single. This crash allowed Josh Varize and Max Vohland to move into the top two spots, which created an intense battle for the lead. The two KTM riders swapped the spot through the sand rollers and tight turns, which saw Vohland come out ahead. Once in front Vohland pulled clear of the pack and nabbed the win, only to have his bike smoke at the finish line.
Talon Hawkins was in contention for a podium finish in the middle of the moto until his bike began to misfire and he pulled out of the race. This allowed Kaeden Amerine to slip up to third place; Hawkins ultimately finished nineteenth.
AMATEUR ALL-STAR CLASS | MOTO ONE
Jo Shimoda took over the lead the moment the gate dropped with Jalek Swoll, Carson Mumford, Seth Hammaker, and Brian Moreau all in tow. A crash by Mumford shook up the standings and passes by Hammaker pushed the defending class winner up to second place. Monster Energy/Team Green/Kawasaki's Hammaker was slightly quicker than AMSOIL Honda's Shimoda in the middle of the moto and this pace closed the gap between the top two in the final laps. There was less than a second difference in the final lap and for a moment it looked like Hammaker had a passed lined up in the remaining turn, but Shimoda hung on to win by 0.215 seconds.
CUP CLASS | MOTO TWO
Eli Tomac didn't need a teammate's help to build a big lead over the pack because he came out of turn one at the head of the field. This was critical for Tomac as he was able to avoid the crashes and run-ins that claimed other contenders Jason Anderson, who was at the very back of the field exiting the first turn, and Marvin Musquin, who collided with Chad Reed in the over-under tunnel and got his leg caught in Reed's rear wheel. This commotion benefitted Josh Grant, Justin Barcia, Malcolm Stewart, and Joey Savatgy and with this, the riders spent the rest of the pace swapping spots. The Joker Lane had an important role in the final results because on the last lap all four of the aforementioned riders had a shot at the podium. Barcia and Grant claimed the podium spots by hitting the lane with a few laps to go, while Stewart snagged fourth.
Anderson and Musquin were able to put in solid charges after their early issues, with Anderson snagging fifth thanks to a last-lap block pass on Joey Savatgy and Musquin rallied back to ninth.
SUPERMINI CLASS | MOTO TWO
Ryder DiFrancesco shook off his Moto One crash and claimed another holeshot, but Max Vohland rushed his way back up to the lead by the end of the first lap. Within a very short amount of time, Vohland established a solid lead over Kaeden Amerine and Jack Chambers. Amerine’s final laps were some of his best of the moto and it allowed him to reel Vohland in a small amount. Even with Amerine’s charge and a few mistakes by Vohland, the KTM rider was able to hang on for the 1-1 sweep and the overall win.
AMATEUR ALL-STAR CLASS | MOTO TWO
Derek Drake aced the start in the night’s final moto for the Amateur All-Stars over Jalek Swoll, Brian Moreau, Jo Shimoda, and Seth Hammaker, which threw the possibilities for the overall wide-open. Drake managed to stay unrivaled in the lead and coasted to the win on his Troy Lee Designs/Red Bull/KTM, but all attention turned to Shimoda and Hammaker a bit deeper in the field. Shimoda spent a number of laps looking for a way around Moreau and finally found the chance with three laps left. The timing of this pass was key because Hammaker was just behind Shimoda and had the chance to steal away the overall win with one pass. As the duo diced through the sand section on the final lap, it looked like either rider could have come out ahead, but a mistake by Hammaker exiting the elevated turn put the Kawasaki rider on the ground and allowed Shimoda to finish third, which was more than enough for the overall victory.
CUP CLASS | MOTO THREE
When the riders filed into the starting gate for the last race of the night, almost everyone in the stadium could feel the pressure that Eli Tomac was under. Things started off shaky for the winner of the first two motos as a poor start put him deep in the top-ten while teammate Joey Savatgy led Chad Reed, Vince Friese, Malcolm Stewart, Jordon Smith, and Jason Anderson. Within four laps Tomac had worked his way up to fourth place and was clearly the quickest rider on the track, but it seemed unlikely that he would get by Friese and Reed in enough time to mount a charge on Savatgy. Things turned in Tomac’s favor through the closing laps, however, as he picked off Friese and Reed with a swift pair of passes and then reeled in Savatgy to create a tense last lap. Savatgy looked back multiple times on the final lap and admittedly checked up to allow his teammate the chance to pass for the lead, sweep of all three motos, and the million dollar payout. Savatgy, meanwhile, ended the night ranked third overall.
Jason Anderson rounded the first turn nearly last place, but the Rockstar Energy Racing Husqvarna rider caught the pace quickly and worked his way up to fourth place at the finish, a position that secured him second place overall. Marvin Musquin experienced issues of his own on the opening lap and as the rest of the field ran at race pace, he pulled into the mechanic area with a problem that ended his race.