PHOENIX (Jan. 14) – GEICO Honda turned up a pair of fours on Saturday night at the Monster Energy AMA Supercross event at Chase Field.
Supercross rider Kevin Windham and Lites West rider Eli Tomac both barely missed finishing on the podium with each pulling home in fourth place. However, the path each rider got to the same finish was as different as night and day.
Windham had his best start of the young season, cycling into third place after the drop of the gate. Windham built a comfortable buffer for much of the race, riding flawlessly for 19 laps.
“I went into Anaheim a little bit frustrated with my preseason,” Windham said. “I didn’t feel like I’d not done enough. Ultimately I didn’t do too bad there and I built on it here.
“I wanted to get my GEICO Honda to the podium. I want to get Planet Fitness and all my personal sponsors up there to give them some spotlight. When you get that close, it can make you bitter.”
For the last five laps of the 450cc main, Windham noticed that defending series champion Ryan Villopoto was charging hard and closing the gap. On lap 19, Windham made a slight error in a rhythm section which opened the door enough for Villopoto to step through a lap later.
“I could have kept him behind me had I not messed that section up,” Windham said. “Sometimes when you have somebody nipping at your heels, you say you have to ride flawlessly so deep in a race. It’s so difficult to pull those perfect laps.
“You do all that prep and the difference is one little section of the track. Nevertheless, it’s extremely early in the season and it gives me a lot to build on.”
Windham sits fifth in season points, 14 behind leader Ryan Dungey but only seven out of third.
After a determined effort in his heat race that resulted in a heat win, Tomac struggled at the start on Saturday and had to fight his way from 11th place to finish fourth — nearly a carbon copy of his season opener.
“If I ever get our front it’s going to be game over,” Tomac said. “I just can’t start in the pack. I came off the gate there and double-clutched it. I did the same kind of stuff last year on starts.”
Even though he was denied a spot on the podium, Tomac said that the bigger, championship picture worked in his favor.
“The guy who won tonight was fifth or sixth last week,” Tomac said. “And the guy who won last week finished behind me tonight. It’s a good way for it to end for me, all things considered.”
Tomac goes into next weekend’s third round of the season in fifth place in the standings, but he’s only four points out of the lead.
The Monster Energy AMA Supercross series returns to Southern California on Jan. 21 for the third race of the season at Dodger Stadium.