Supercross: Cooper Webb is the odd man in Cooper Webb wins Tampa Supercross: Eli Tomac retains championship lead by two points
TAMPA, Florida. After a strong start with a second-place finish in the first two races of 2023, Cooper Webb finished fourth overall in the Anaheim 2 Triple Crown and struggled last week with a fifth-place finish in Houston. Major, but with the Monster Energy Supercross championships in 2019 and 2021, he’s looking to be redundant again this season. After all, he is third in the standings, just 12 points behind first, and is one of only two drivers to finish in the top five in the first four races of 2023.
Webb led most of the 2019 season with eight wins and an 18-point lead over Eli Tomac. The momentum grew.
But Tomac was always there, hiding in the shadows. And when Webb struggled in 2020, Tomac responded by winning the championship by 25 points – a full race advantage.
When Webb won his first title in 2019, his efforts drew a lot of negativity. Numerous injuries while racing for Yamaha were fresh in fans’ minds, but Webb was determined to tackle his new Red Bull KTM ride with a positive attitude. He learned to turn off the noise.
In 2019, he started the season poorly, finishing fifth in the opening game in Anaheim and 10th the following week in Glendale, Arizona. But when he took his first win of the season at Anaheim 2, more followed. He won four of the next seven races and finished second twice. By the end of the season, Webb was well ahead and his 35-point lead over Ken Roczen this time was the biggest in years.
Webb has become a strange man V.
“Yeah, like you said, I’m an odd-numbered guy,” Webb told NBC Sports this week on media day at Raymond James Stadium as he saddled up his bike and waited to do a few laps on select sections of the track. “I feel good. I feel like we’re in a good place. You know, last weekend was a little hard, but this week was great.
“The bottom line is it’s time to get the first one this year and try to maximize our points and come back a little tougher on the hunt. But overall, we are still a very good place. It’s time to race.”
Webb realizes that even with his lead over the top five, there is a risk of losing sight of Tomac, who has won three of the first four races this season. After last year’s incredible battle between Tomac and Chase Sexton in the outdoor pro motocross season, Webb is often the third rider to be mentioned in the chase, furthering his status as an oddball.
It is worth noting that one is also an odd number.
Webb feels like he has a slight edge this week. Originally from North Carolina, Webb now calls Claremont, Florida home, just over 60 miles from Raymond James Stadium.
“This is Tampa,” Webb said. “They bring sand for the whole rhythm section every time we’re here, so it’s definitely a little bit interesting. So far it looks like a good track. Also some kind of weather in the air. I don’t know how it will play a role tomorrow, but at the moment the track looks very good.
“Just driving here this morning was nice. I now live in Florida full-time, so just not having to get on a plane and sleep in my own bed the night before is definitely a plus. I’m looking forward to the race. I have many friends and relatives, so the vibes are hot—the vibes are hot.”
Cooper Webb had the perfect race takes his first Monster Energy Supercross victory in Tampa in the last 22 races.
“It’s a hell of a long time,” Webb told NBC Sports correspondent Will Christien immediately after the race.
Webb and Chase Sexton were in class Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium. After winning the race, Sexton took the lead, but a motivated Webb never let him out of his sight and waited. This strategy often works for Webb as he forces his competitors to make mistakes.
“I felt good running at that speed,” Webb continued. “I felt like I could catch him when I needed to. The lappers were tough.
“I had an important moment in whoops, and I held on to it. He had a big moment and I saw him fall. I was ready for it until the last laps. I saw that he was nervous.”
With a few laps remaining, Webb broke free, missing a section of whoops. He nearly crashed before catching his bike, but with no bystanders to tell him he had a slightly better lead over Webb than on the previous lap, Sexton kept riding the edge and when he hooked the edge he fell to the ground like clockwork. it was less than a minute.
“Overall my riding and racing is getting better,” Sexton said at a post-race press conference. “Tonight was one of the best Main Event performances I’ve had, with the exception of Anaheim 2.
“Cooper and I were arguing about who could go faster on each lap and the lappers were definitely catching up with both of us, especially on the sand section. In fact, it was just an opportunity to focus. I did not know that he had a sketchy moment on the previous lap, and this main line was getting worse and worse. I was trying to get it to work and obviously it bit me.”
Webb and Sexton ran all the way to Joey Savatgy in ninth place.
It wasn’t exactly Babe Ruth pointing at the fence to predict a home run, but before the race, Webb told NBC Sports that his “bottom line is it’s time to get that first of the year and try to maximize our points and come back a little tougher on the hunt” .
Webb’s last win came in 2021, which was a championship year. That season, once he won, he finished first or second eight times in the next 10 races.
.@CooperWebb_2 lights candles in Tampa 🔥
Monster Energy 450 Main Event Live @Kroger #SupercrossLIVE #SuperMotocross pic.twitter.com/YOSY4am1pJ
Supercross Live! (@supercrosslive) February 12, 2023
RESULTS: How they finished the 450 Main in Tampa
In 2019, he won in the third round and then won four of the next seven.
Aaron Plessinger almost made it to the podium last week. He ran well throughout the Houston race but lost speed towards the end and finished fourth. Like Webb, he was strongly motivated to improve his performance.
In Tampa, Plessinger claimed his first supermotocross podium since finishing third at the Ironman in the outdoor pro motocross season last year. I was his first Supercross podium after finishing second at Oakland in the second round of 2022.
“I just did my runs this week,” Plessinger said after the race. “I think if it wasn’t for that red flag last week, things might have been different. … If not for the red flag, I could have landed here (in Houston).
Ken Roczen recovered from eighth place last week and finished fourth in the top five in five races.
The Tampa Supercross race was uncharacteristically difficult for points leader Tomac, who lost ground to Sexton and Webb in fifth place. Webb is now just two points behind Sexton and four behind Webb in third place.
Like a rubber band, Hunter Lawrence and Nate Thrasher took part in two different races that literally converged on the last lap.
Lawrence had a poor start and got stuck in traffic during the first laps. Meanwhile, Thrasher scored a goal shot to take the lead.
But Lawrence is not the generally accepted favorite to win the 250 East division, giving up and having a patient race. Lawrence broke through the traffic and methodically cut the lead. The final laps were marked by heavy traffic and Lawrence’s more aggressive riding style brought victory.
Lawrence and Thrasher met twice on the last lap. Coming out of the sand section, Thrasher went wide and brushed Lawrence’s front wheel. The momentum lost was negligible, and on the last corner, Lawrence was able to reciprocate by pushing Thrasher offline.
“Wow, that was amazing,” Lawrence said from the top of the podium. “I’m still excited. What a trip. It was damn cool. I have some work to do at launch after this week. What a race at home here in Tampa.”
Click here to see the full 250 top results.
Thrasher recovered but failed to clear the last hurdle and finished 0.2 seconds behind Lawrence, the closest 250 since 2015.
“Hunter had a great race,” Thrasher said. “I got ahead early, just ran laps and felt like I had good pace, but at the end of the day, I was the first to run into laps, and they were never your friends. I just have to be better.”
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