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Eli Tomac holds off Chase Sexton to win Houston Supercross

Eli Tomac of Star Racing Yamaha finished second to Chase Sexton in Heat 2 and third in timed qualifying laps Saturday at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Star Racing Yamaha)
Tomac goes 3-for-4 and widens his series lead

Eli Tomac on Saturday held off a furious pursuit by Chase Sexton to win the 450 Supercross in Houston and widen his lead in the championship series.

The Star Racing Yamaha racer from Cortez, Colorado, now holds a seven-point lead over Honda’s Sexton, who solidified his runner-up position and broke a second-place tie to lead Cooper Webb by five points.

Tomac entered NRG Stadium after a hard crash and a sixth-place finish in Anaheim. He has won three out of four races in the series while facing harrowing challenges to the finish line from Webb and Sexton.

And in Saturday night’s main event, he got a fast start – twice.

Tomac won the holeshot ahead of Aaron Pessinger and Jason Anderson.

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But by the second lap, Sexton and Webb began their push, moving into fourth and fifth as the leaders bunched up at the front, only 3½ seconds separating fifth-place Webb from Tomac at the lead.

The charge to the front came to a stop, though, as the red flag came out midway through Lap 2 as Dylan Ferrandis, Tomac’s teammate on Star Racing Yamaha, jumped onto the back of Ken Roczen as they raced near middle of the field, in eighth and ninth places.

As the race clock stood still at 16:37, Ferrandis lay on the ground, slow to move. After several minutes, the racers returned to the gate for a restart, and Ferrandis slowly rose to his feet. He would finish 22nd, and Roczen, eighth.

As the red flag was lifted, Tomac again grabbed the lead, and Anderson passed Plessinger for second place as the New Mexican pursued the Coloradan.

Sexton also passed Plessinger for third place, and Webb, tied for second place in the series behind Tomac, held onto fifth place.

Sexton, who was the fastest racer during the two qualifying heats, passed Anderson in Lap 2 and inched toward Tomac, then gained ground as Tomac went wide. By Lap 14, he trailed the leader by a half-second.

Justin Barcia passed Webb for fifth place and narrowed the gap behind Plessinger, but all eyes were on the front. Tomac countered a Sexton charge and widened a thin lead to 1.6 seconds in Lap 17 and 3.1 seconds in Lap 19.

Barcia fell and dropped to sixth place in Lap 20, but as the white flag came out, the podium was set.

Tomac won again to claim his third victory in four races. Sexon was second, 3.25 seconds behind, and Anderson was third, 12 seconds back. Plessinger and Webb rounded out the top five.

The qualifying heats: Anderson and Sexton

Sexton gave fans a demonstration of speed in Heat 2, blowing past Tomac for the lead in Lap 2 and winning the race in 7 minutes, 18.222 seconds.

Anderson won qualifying Heat 1 in a time of 7 minutes, 23.820 seconds.

In Heat 1, Webb, lining up with Ferrandis, Anderson and Joey Savatgy, went to the early lead, but gave way to Anderson in the whoops in Lap 1, and Aaron Plessinger in Lap 3.

Ferrandis was fourth, and Roczen, starting in eighth place, passed Justin Cooper for fifth place in Lap 4.

Anderson cruised to the finish line, 1.994 seconds ahead of Plessinger and 3.404 seconds ahead of Webb. Ferrandis was fourth, 5.082 seconds back, and Roczen was fifth, 6.151 seconds off Anderson’s pace.

In Heat 2, Tomac grabbed the early lead over Colt Nichols and Sexton, but Sexton quickly took second place in Lap 1, then easily passed Tomac in the whoops for the lead in Lap 2.

Tomac picked up the pace in Lap 5, running his fastest lap of the race, in 52.026 seconds, but Sexton blazed ahead, with a 50.955-second lap to widen the gap ahead of Tomac.

Barcia, starting fifth, passed Cianciarulo in Lap 4 for fourth place and Nichols in Lap 8 for third place.

Barcia, starting in fifth place, got by Cianciarulo and Nichols to finish a distant third, 11.724 seconds behind Sexton, and 7.871 seconds behind Tomac. Cianciarulo was fourth, 13.903 seconds off the pace, and Nichols was fifth, 14.692 seconds back.

Time laps

Tomac was third-fastest in timed qualifying laps, with a best time of 51.431 seconds. Sexton was fastest, at 50.320 seconds, and Ferrandis was second, at 51.415 seconds. Anderson and Cianciarulo rounded out the top five.

What’s next

Round 5 of the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship series is Saturday, Feb. 11, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

2023 standings
1. Eli TomacYamaha95
2. Chase SextonHonda88
3. Cooper WebbKTM83
4. Jason AndersonKawasaki76
5. Ken RoczenSuzuki73
6. Justin BarciaGasGas65
7. Aaron PlessingerKTM64
8. Dylan FerrandisYamaha56
9. Adam CianciaruloKawasaki56
10. Joey SavatgyKawasaki53