SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Three weeks of Supercross racing at Rice-Eccles Stadium came to a thrilling conclusion Sunday afternoon.
Eli Tomac finally won the championship to validate his career at the sport’s top level, while Zach Osborne made a statement his career is just getting started.
Tomac, 27, became the oldest rider to win in the 450 division of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Series, clinching with an uneventful fifth-place finish Sunday at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah.
It capped a remarkable season on Father’s Day for the Kawasaki rider, whose daughter, Levi, was born April 26. After four runner-up points finishes and winning the most races in 2017 and ’18, Tomac finally put together the championship consistency in his sixth full season.
“Just unbelievable circumstances,” said Tomac, who led the series with seven victories. “I just always think back to this whole lifetime of riding. Going through everything. The failures with the team. Coming here with the whole COVID going on right now. So pretty unbelievable.
“There was a time we didn’t even know if we were going to be able to ride or not. Between Daytona and this swing of the series. So it’s finally here and unbelievable.”
After an 85-day layoff from March through May because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the season finale capped a stretch of seven events in 22 days without any fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The first six events in Salt Lake City were won by the top three riders in the points: Tomac, Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen.
Osborne interrupted that run Sunday with the first 450 victory of his career. He rebounded after a hard crash in practice that required an MRI on his chest after he landed on his handlebars.
Jason Anderson, who had been leading until late in the main event when he lost his seat, finished second, followed by Dean Wilson and Malcolm Stewart.
Chad Reed finished 10th in what could be the final 450 start of his illustrious career.
The 250 East/West Showdown finale delivered a pair of back-to-back champions after the main event was restarted because of a red flag for championship contender Austin Forkner (who was injured in a crash and withdrew).
Chase Sexton of La Moille, Illinois, scored his fifth victory of the season, outdueling runner-up Shane McElrath to win his second consecutive 250 East championship. Sexton and McElrath ceded the lead to each other midway through before Sexton pulled away for good on his Honda.
“Everyone said I got lucky (last) year, and that fired me up coming into this season,” said Sexton, who will move up to the 450 class next year with HRC Honda. “As a kid from Illinois who grew up in a town of 800 people, it feels so good. Man, I could not be more excited.
“Shane was trying to play a little bit of games, which is whatever. I pulled away and made it happen. Can’t thank my team enough; they’ve been behind me since I turned pro. Man, this feels so good. I can not begin to explain where I’m at right now.”
Dylan Ferrandis survived a tumultuous finale, finishing fourth after wiping out in the head. The French rider made the main event after winning the Last Chance Qualifier. He was trailing early in the first attempt at the main event before Forkner crashed while running second. That ensured Ferrandis would win his second consecutive championship.
“The most difficult day of my life,” Ferrandis told NBC while getting choked up with emotion. “So much emotion today after winning the LCQ. That was tough. Main, got a good start, I wanted to push, and when I saw Austin, it breaks my heart honestly for him.
“So amazing. Never expected to do back-to-back championships in my life. It’s unbelievable. Just thank my team, my wife, my trainer. I can’t talk anymore.”