Courtesy of RacerX

April 8, 2019 11:45am

by Jason Weigandt

When riders at Eli Tomac’s level struggle, nothing in the world seems right. In other sports, 4-3-4 finishes over the last three races might seem fine, but everyone knows what Tomac is capable of, and watching him go backwards and get passed seemed to point to some real issues. This year, Tomac had finally made it through the early rounds of Monster Energy AMA Supercross without giving away huge points. He was in position to make a title run. Instead, he… well, he didn’t ride like Eli Tomac is expected to ride. 

Things didn’t look much better early in Nashville. He was 11th and sixth in two practice sessions, and then when he looked good while leading his heat race, his bike broke, sending him to the Last Chance Qualifier.

“It’s tough, you can use it your advantage or not,” said Tomac about going to the LCQ. “My advantage was I kept my body warm, and I found more rhythm even by racing the LCQ there.

“The track conditions changed a lot,” he continued. “I was struggling more early. It seemed like it was still slick, but there was a little more moisture in the dirt at night. I was able to ride it better. The whoops were tough. The edges were there, and they were still really big in practice. Early on, that felt like it was my weak point, the whoops.”

None of this seemed like it was trending in the right direction. Then, suddenly, it was. The old Eli Tomac returned for the main event, turning the bad gate pick from the LCQ, and subsequent bad start, into a win, really without any trouble at all. So what has been the problem with Tomac? What did he fix? How bad did it get? We’ve heard a lot of stories recently, and the fact that the crew chief for his number three Monster Energy Kawasaki KX450, Mike Williamson, chose to leave the team a few weeks back, only added to the intrigue.

We grabbed Eli after the post-race press conference to learn more.

Racer X: Okay, I have heard many of theories about you the last few weeks, and I have come up with many of them myself—the theories, the concepts. I’ve probably heard 100 different reasons as to what has gone wrong for you. Do you have any idea?
Eli Tomac: [Laughs] I mean, yeah, I either feel right or I don’t. You’ve got to have a big window to feel right, and right now our window has been too tight, for being in the right spot, depending on the track. You know, when it’s good it’s great, when it’s not, I’ve been going backwards. Tonight, I don’t know, I felt the best of any of the races I’ve won. I was able to manage this race.

This was better even compared to Detroit, when you came from 11th to first?
Well, comparable to that, but it was good to do it in a full-length main. I haven’t felt like I’ve in a full-length main yet, except for Daytona, I guess, but Daytona is different.

But when you’re struggling, and obviously it’s relative struggling, it’s not like you’re getting 18th every weekend…
Yeah it’s just that I’m going backwards. It was not good.

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Racer X 2019 Nashville SX Open Mic