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Tomac repeats at Muddy Creek; McElrath scores 250 upset

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 24, 2018 at 1:15 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Eli Tomac left everyone in his dust on Saturday at Muddy Creek Raceway.

The Colorado rider powered his Kawasaki to his eighth moto in 10 races and scored his fifth overall victory this season in the 450 class at the AMA Tennessee National for the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. Tomac, the defending series champion, became the first repeat winner of the Tennessee race.

Shane McElrath, a 23-year-old who grew up just 90 miles from Muddy Creek in Canton, N.C., rode his KTM bike to his first-ever overall 250 title. Jeremy Martin, on a Honda, and Yamaha rider Dylan Ferrandis won individual motos. McElrath’s margin of victory was 42-35 win over Ferrandis.

In the featured 450 division, the story was Tomac, who dominated the first moto and then charged from 20th at the start of the second moto to finish third. He won the overall title (45-44) over Justin Barcia, who finished runner-up in both races and continued a hot streak to remain undefeated on the season.

“Everything is working, you’re healthy and you feel good on the bike,” Tomac said about his current run of dominance. “It just makes life easier. We’ve just got that going on with us right now and life is good.”

French rider Marvin Musquin, who crashed on the first lap in race No. 1, won the second moto. However, the charge from Tomac kept his record unblemished and gave him a 14th career victory.

“It was just playing catch-up,” Tomac said. “I was trying to just get to third because I saw Marvin and Justin, and I knew the way the points were going to fall. Once I got to third, it was too late (to gain more positions) because Justin had gotten on the gas, too.”

Barcia finished just one point (45-44) behind Tomac for the overall crown. He said he was unaware of the standings until after the race.

“I was just riding my own race and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Barcia said. “I just can’t wait to get a win here. I set my goals high.”

FIRST-EVER FOR MCELRATH

McElrath was fifth after the holeshot in the first 250 moto. He made the charge in the second moto from a ninth-place holeshot to a runner-up finish, and he became the second North Carolina rider to win at Muddy Creek, following two-time winner Cooper Webb.

“This was my best ride ever and it just felt right out there,” said McElrath, who earned his first podium finish at Muddy Creek in 2016. “I started out with a podium this morning, and we’ve been working so hard to get the bike the way I like it. It’s amazing the difference it makes when it’s like that. I didn’t have a very good start, but I made some quick passes. Once I got up two behind (Chase) Sexton, he was like you have to pass the 40. I just kept pushing it and pushing it, and once I got around him I was like, dude, this was so much fun.”

EVENTFUL DAY FOR THE MARTIN BOYS

Two-time series champion Jeremy Martin won the first of the 250 motos on his Honda, but crashed in the second moto and was transported to the hospital with a back injury.

His brother, Alex, wrecked while leading the first moto and then wrecked with two laps to go in the second moto, handing the lead over to Ferrandis, a 24-year-old French rider.

“I can’t stay off the ground,” Alex Martin said. “I just don’t understand. I led a lot of laps ... just came in a little too hot. I thought I had it in the bag and as soon as I thought that, it was over with my feet flying in the air. I just go as hard as I can on two wheels and give it all I can.”

Sexton finished third on a Honda in the overall standings with 29 points, winning a tiebreaker over Jordon Smith, another North Carolina rider on a KTM bike.

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