Ironman MX: Sexton wins after a tie-break
Chase Sexton and Eli Tomac traded motorcycle victories at the Tucker Freight Lines Ironman National, from which Sexton triumphed by tiebreaker in what was a historic battle for the Edison Dye Cup.
The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship traveled to the motorsport hotbed of the greater Indianapolis area for the 11th and penultimate round of the 50th Anniversary season at Ironman Raceway in Crawfordsville.
The opening race for the first class began with Monster Energy Star Yamaha Racing’s Christian Craig leading the pack into turn one for the MotoSport.com Holeshot. However, he was quickly passed by Ken Roczen of the Honda HRC team as Shan McElrath of Muc-Off/FXR/ClubMX Yamaha took third place. Tomac and Sexton started outside the top five and top 10, respectively.
As Roczen sprinted to a lead of over two seconds, Tomac made an impressive charge until second where he passed McElrath, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Ryan Dungey and Craig to put Roczen in his sights. As Tomac headed for the lead, Sexton responded with a top-five charge, where he set up behind Dungey.
As Sexton looked to work his way into the top three, Tomac pressured Roczen to take the lead 10 minutes into the race. Sexton made the pass over Craig for third place as Tomac began looking for alternate lines to get around Roczen. Tomac was persistent and completed the pass with almost 18 minutes left. The Yamaha rider quickly opened up a lead as Roczen and Sexton began a battle for second, from which Sexton made an easy pass over his teammate and looked to cut a 2.5 second deficit on Tomac then as the bike reached its halfway point.
As they entered the last 10 minutes of the moto, mere bike lengths were between Tomac and Sexton. The lapped runners were factored into the fight for the lead as the momentum between the two runners ebbed and flowed. Sexton was patient and pulled the trigger in an impressive outside-in motion that allowed him to cut under Tomac and take control of the bike with just over five minutes remaining. With his head in hand, Sexton began to walk away from Tomac. A late push from Tomac saw him close with 90 seconds left and was soon followed by an outside pass for the lead in the same section of the track where Sexton made his pass.
Tomac dropped the hammer and set his fastest lap of the race as time ticked away, allowing him to open a four-second lead. Sexton made one last push to close but it wasn’t enough as Tomac took his 11th moto win of the season by 1.5 seconds. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Aaron Plessinger finished a distant third, more than half a minute behind the leaders, followed by Dungey fourth and Craig fifth.
The final round saw Sexton seize the moment to grab the MotoSport.com Holeshot, but he was quickly passed by Roczen. Dungey placed third, with Tomac fourth and Plessinger fifth. Honda’s teammates briefly battled for the lead, but Sexton took the lead and came back in front. Roczen took second as Tomac made the pass for third and looked to battle with the red runners ahead of him.
Sexton was able to open a lead of more than three seconds in the first 10 minutes of the race as Roczen served as a buffer for his teammate. As his deficit to Sexton continued to grow, Tomac got the wheel right and tactfully made the pass over Roczen. Just over four seconds separated Sexton and Tomac once the Yamaha rider took second place.
The distance between the leaders hovered around five seconds for several laps before Tomac picked up the pace as the bike passed the halfway point. Tomac set his fastest lap of the race, but Sexton responded a lap later with his personal best to hold on to the advantage. As Tomac continued to try to reduce the deficit, the battle for third place intensified behind him as Roczen and Plessinger entered the fray, from which Plessinger emerged with the position.
Back at the front, the gap between first and second fell to less than two seconds as Sexton cruised with lapped runners, sometimes to Tomac’s benefit. As the last five minutes of the moto approached, Tomac cut the deficit to one second and put Sexton within striking distance. A bobble from Tomac briefly halted his momentum and allowed Sexton to regain a three-second lead. Behind this battle in the lead, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Jason Anderson was on a charge through the field that saw him easily pass Plessinger for third place.
Sexton looked to cement his lead with another fast lap, which dropped Tomac six seconds behind. The lead continued to grow as time passed on the bike. Sexton closed out his eighth moto win of the season 11.2 seconds ahead of Tomac. Anderson crossed the line in third but was penalized one position for an off-track excursion where he was deemed to have gained an advantage. This propelled Plessinger into third position.
In the moto win trade, Sexton (2-1) and Tomac (1-2) tied for the top of the overall standings, but the second moto tiebreaker gave the Honda rider his fourth win of the season and his third victory in the last four races. . Tomac’s fourth straight finish extended his podium streak to 10 races, while Plessinger (3-3) earned his second podium of the year.
Tied for the afternoon, a single point still separates Tomac and Sexton in the championship standings in what is now the closest title fight in sports history. The historic battle will come down to the last two motos of the season.
“I finally got off to a good start [in Moto 2] and I just tried to sprint. I had a good gap and went into the laps and made a few mistakes and then Eli got closer. It was hot today and the track was tough, but I kept my head down and kept digging and we made it,” said Sexton.
Overall Class 450 Results (Moto Finish // Points)
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (2-1 // 47)
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colorado, Yamaha (1-2 // 47)
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM (3-3 // 40)
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, New Mexico, Kawasaki (6-4 // 33)
- Christian Craig, El Cajon, CA, Yamaha (5-5 // 32)
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plain, Minnesota, KTM (4-7 // 32)
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (7-6 // 29)
- Malcolm Stewart, Haines City, Fla., Husqvarna (11-8 // 23)
- Fredrik Noren, Sweden, KTM (9-10 // 23)
- Dean Wilson, Scotland, Husqvarna (13-9 // 20)
Class 450 Championship Standings (Round 11 of 12)
- Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colorado, Yamaha – 496
- Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 495
- Jason Anderson, Edgewood, New Mexico, Kawasaki – 402
- Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 373
- Christian Craig, El Cajon, CA, Yamaha – 335
- Ryan Dungey, Belle Plain, Minn., KTM – 332
- Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, KTM – 294
- Justin Barcia, Monroe, NY, GASGAS – 272
- Joey Savatgy, Thomasville, GA, Kawasaki – 222
- Shane McElrath, Canton, NC, Husqvarna – 197