Eli Tomac of Cortez, now racing with Monster Energy Star Racing Yamaha, on Saturday finished sixth in the 450cc Supercross in Anaheim, California.
Ken Roczen of Team Honda HRC went to the lead in the first lap with teammate Chase Sexton on his heels. He won the 22-lap race start to finish after building a 12-second lead midway through the main event.
Defending champion Cooper Webb of Red Bull KTM finished second after charging to the front from a sixth-place start. Justin Barcia of GasGas was third, Marvin Musquin of KTM was fourth, and Sexton was fifth.
Tomac, hindered by slow starts through much of his career, left the starting gate from the No. 5 spot and was in 11th place after the first lap.
Stuck in ninth and 10th place behind Musquin and Malcolm Stewart for the first six laps, Tomac was passed by his new teammate, 2021 AMA Motocross champion Dylan Ferrandis, in the seventh lap.
Ferrandis and Tomac picked up the pace in Lap 12 after moving into sixth and eighth place, respectively, and appeared to be starting a rally.
However, Sexton and Ferrrandis made contact in Lap 15, stalling Ferrandis’ Yamaha and sending him to the back of the pack. Tomac moved into seventh place with seven laps to go.
With four laps to go, Musquin and Tomac passed Adam Cianciarulo of Monster Energy Kawasaki to put both into the top five. Musquin got by Sexton for fourth place, nearly 16 seconds behind Roczen. Tomac was sixth, about 4 seconds behind Sexton and 20 seconds behind Roczen.
Speaking to OGIO Powersports after the race, Tomac highlighted his performance in qualifying at Anaheim.
‘I’ll say qualifying was fun. That was the positive on the day,“ Tomac said. ”The frustrating parts of the night was starts.“
Tomac mentioned that the track’s three sets of whoops presented challenges, and that the track’s ruts were difficult. But he added that he was healthy and ready to go next week.
“You learn, you learn, you learn,” he said.
Jason Anderson of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, finished 10th in his first AMA Supercross race for Monster Energy Kawasaki.
In his heat race, Tomac started fourth of 20 riders and finished third behind Sexton and KTM’s Shane McElrath. Barcia and Webb rounded out the top five.
Roczen dominated Heat 2, winning start to finish. Cianciarulo trailed Roczen for two laps, but dropped back to seventh. Justin Brayton of Honda, Stewart, Aaron Plessinger and Ferrandis filled the gap to finish in the top five.
Tomac entered his 450SX heat as the second-fastest qualifier, with a 57.302-second lap in his second run. Stewart was fastest, at 57.216 seconds, and Jason Anderson, Sexton and Ferrandis filled out the top five.
Saturday’s race at Angel Stadium was the first in a six-race swing through California that includes three races in Anaheim before riders move to Minneapolis on Feb. 9. Tomac will return to his home state on April 30 at Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High before finishing the season May 7 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.
The 17- race AMA Supercross season next goes to RingCentral Coliseum in Oakland on Jan. 15.