Another Monster Energy Cup, another $1 million winner.


10/18/2018

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For the second consecutive year, the Monster Energy Cup awarded the top rider for a perfect result. With three wins in three starts, Eli Tomac not only earned the Monster Million but also became the first-ever two-time winner of the event.

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It was a dominant night for the Monster Energy Kawasaki Racing Team's premier rider, as he absolutely smoked the competition in the first two races. The final main event, though, had the fans on their feet for the duration as the No. 3 started out just inside the top 10 so the pressure was on during the very short race to win and earn that $1 million for a perfect 1-1-1 score. 

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Tomac's charge to the front was why we run races, as his already ferocious pace was clicked up a notch or two as he sliced and diced his way past riders such as Chad Reed, Malcolm Stewart, Josh Grant and others as he tried to run down his new teammate - Joey Savatgy - who had opened up a gap out front. That's when it got interesting as Savatgy was the only rider between Tomac and the big payday, so he put the hammer down (even further) and closed that gap, putting him on Savatgy's rear wheel with half a lap to go. That's when things got a bit controversial as Savatgy clearly pulled over just enough and waved his teammate by. While not against any rules, it was generally considered unpopular by many fans as it seemed that Eli really didn't need any help to get by the No. 17, taking into account how easily he closed the gap (not to mention Tomac would've won the event even with a second place finish in the final race). Regardless, the move put Tomac into the $1 million club as Savatgy followed him across to finish second.

Otherwise, other notable performances were put in by several riders, and will no doubt be a preview for the upcoming 2019 AMA Supercross Championship. 

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Most remarkable was how quickly the 2018 champ has been able to come back to speed after being on the sidelines all summer. Come Anaheim 1 this January, Jason Anderson will be running a big No. 1 on his Rockstar Husqvarna 450, and based on his ride in Vegas last weekend, he will also be a favorite to defend it. Those are big words considering how dominant Tomac was, but lest we forget that Anderson was beating Tomac every weekend at the beginning of last season as the #3 struggled with various reasons for poor results. After he had a decent lead, Anderson more or less cruised in for the title, pushing it only when necessary and proving that he had the maturity and coaching necessary to maintain a points lead over 17 rounds of racing. Anderson ended up a very solid second overall via 3-5-4 scores that don't portray just how fast and aggressively he rode the fast track.

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Of course Joey Savatgy's performance can't be overlooked either, as he grabbed a couple of holeshots and set the pace up front for much of the final main event. This was a bit of a surprise to many as this was his premier in the 450SX class and he'd been on a bit of a downward trend with his results lately. So much so, in fact, that many questioned why Kawasaki would want him as their secondary 450 rider on the factory team. Joey silenced the critics with his performance and will now head into Anaheim this January with a full head of steam for the long 17 race season.

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Malcolm Stewart is always a fan favorite and was one of two riders who were essentially on trial runs at the Monster Cup with potential teams that may hire them for the 2019 season. Stewart and Chad Reed both put in respectable performances, auditioning for the MotoConcepts Racing and JGR/Autotrader/Suzuki teams, respectively, as they went fifth and eighth overall. Stewart proved to be competitive and consistent all night, mixing it up and battling for every position, while Reed wasn't as consistently toward the front like Malcolm was, but a third place in the final main event was impressive and will look good on his resume for the upcoming season.

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Another favorite to nab at least a single victory was Monster Energy Yamaha's Justin Barcia, but it was not to be as Barcia just didn't quite have "it" to battle at the front. While his 4-2-7 scores were sufficient for fourth overall, he was no doubt a bit disappointed (though his speed was on point) with the result.

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Speaking of disappointed, defending champ Marvin Musquin certainly was. After a sobering beat-down and second-place finish in the opening main event, Marvin's luck in the other two didn't improve. After getting his foot stuck in Reed's rear wheel, Marvin effectively removed from the final main after an issue on the opening lap. 

Beyond the Cup Class, the supporting races were outstanding as usual. Both the Supermini and Amateur All-Stars are unique to the Monster Cup, showcasing the top up and coming talent in the U.S. on the huge stage of the Sam Boyd Stadium racetrack.

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This year, a couple of new winners were crowned as Max Vohland (son of Tallon) dominated the Superminis with a straight sweep (1-1) while Joe Shimoda was consistent with his 1-3 scores to take the win in the All-Stars. Also of interest was the winner of the KTM Junior race - which for this event consisted only of previous race winners - was won by Vincent Wey, son of long-time AMA Supercross racer Nick Wey.

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So while the Monster Energy Cup isn't technically a "supercross" race due to the lack of a whoop section and an overall different track build, it is often a good indication of things to come or the upcoming AMA Supercross Championship. With that in mind, everyone has some catching up to do to get on pace with the No. 3 of Eli Tomac.







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