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Injury in Denver knocks Eli Tomac out of Supercross championship series

Eli Tomac leads Chase Sexton in qualifying Heat 1 of the 450cc Supercross Saturday, May 6, at Empower Field in Denver. Sexton later passed Tomac for the win. An injury took Tomac out of the main event. (Jim Bensberg/Courtesy photo)
Defending champ can’t finish race, surrenders title to Chase Sexton

Eli Tomac of Cortez, racing for the 2023 Supercross title Saturday at his home track in Denver, was taken to the medical tent with an apparent leg injury, giving the series lead and likely the season title to Chase Sexton with one race to go.

Entering Empower Field at Mile High with an 18-point lead over Sexton, Tomac could have clinched a third Supercross championship.

And with Cooper Webb, Justin Barcia and Jason Anderson out of the race with injuries, the traffic at the front of the field was expected to be fairly light, making the trip to the finish line easier for Tomac, Sexton and Roczen.

But racing in the lead in the fourth lap, Tomac suddenly slowed, faded and stopped – in last place.

According to early reports from the track, he was taken to the medical tent. Jeremy Coker, team manager for Star Racing Yamaha, then announced that Tomac ruptured his Achilles tendon and was out for the remainder of the season.

He would receive 1 point for finishing last.

Meanwhile, Sexton, who started in sixth place, charged into the lead in Lap 7. Ken Roczen, recovering from Lap 1 crash that landed him in last place, passed Adam Cianciarulo for second place in Lap 20. Justin Hill and Shane McElrath filled out the top five at the finish line.

With Tomac and Webb down with injuries, Sexton now has a 7-point lead over Tomac, 346 to 339. If Tomac does not race in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sexton would win the 450 Supercross title. Tomac would finish second.

Webb, in a distant third place and 303 points, would likely lose his podium position to Roczen, who is right behind him with 302 points.

Tomac, a four-time 450cc Motocross champion, was racing for his third 450 Supercross title. He had already won a 250 Supercross and 250 Motocross champion title.

Eli Tomac, injured Saturday during Round 16 of the 2023 AMA Supercross Championships at Denver's Empower Field at Mile High, rides toward the side of the track with an injured leg. (Jim Bensberg/Courtesy photo)
Chase Sexton celebrates his win in the 450 Supercross Saturday night at Denver’s Empower Field at Mile High. (Jim Bensberg/Courtesy photo)
Qualifying rounds

Tomac placed third in timed practice rounds, completing his fastest lap in 44.603 seconds. Sexton was fastest, at 43.968, and Roczen was second, at 44.378. Cianciarulo was fourth, and Dean Wilson was fifth.

Tomac took the early lead in Heat 2, with Colt Nichols and Kevin Moranz in pursuit. Sexton gained second place in the first lap and quickly challenged Tomac, running a half-second behind him.

Sexton slipped by with an inside pass in Lap 5 and grabbed a 1-second lead before Tomac bounced back with his two fastest laps of the heat – 44.741 and 44.219 seconds – in the sixth and seventh laps.

Tomac backed off in Lap 8 and crossed the finish line in Lap 10 about 1½ seconds back.

Sexton made his last lap count, finishing in first with the fastest lap of the heat, 44.168 seconds.

Nichols was third, and McElrath and Wilson rounded out the top five.

Roczen led all 10 laps to win qualifying Heat 1, and Cianciarulo overtook Kyle Chisholm in the second lap to follow Roczen to the finish line. Hill was third, and Chisholm was fourth. Justin Starling was fifth.

What’s next

The 20203 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship series concludes next Saturday at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

2023 450SX standings
1. Chase SextonHonda346
2. Eli TomacYamaha339
3. Cooper WebbKTM304
4. Ken RoczenSuzuki303
5. Justin BarciaGasGas267
6. Jason AndersonKawasaki242
7. Aaron PlessingerKTM213
8. Adam CianciaruloKTM191
9. Justin HillKawasaki191
10. Dean WilsonHonda182