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DAYTONA Supercross By Honda Preview: Eli Tomac Returns as Defending Champion with Decorated Monster Energy AMA Supercross Season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Motivation abounds for Eli Tomac, coming into Saturday night’s DAYTONA Supercross By Honda high-flying motorcycle spectacle at Daytona International Speedway.

Tomac, winner of the event last year in dominating fashion, is trying to become the ninth rider to win consecutive Supercross championships at the “World Center of Racing.” If he repeats, he’ll join an illustrious list that includes Jeff Stanton, Jeremy McGrath, Chad Reed and Ricky Carmichael. A victory also will boost Tomac’s already considerable momentum as far as the Monster Energy AMA Supercross 450SX championship standings are concerned. Tomac, on the strength of four event victories this year aboard a Kawasaki KM– 450F – Phoenix, Oakland, Minneapolis and last week in Toronto – is second in points behind KTM 450 SX-F rider Ryan Dungey.

“It’d be great [to repeat],” Tomac said Friday during the event’s annual Media Day. “We’re on a good roll right now for the season and we’re looking to carry that over here.”

Tomac considers the DAYTONA Supercross By Honda as one of the premier races on the Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule. He’s not alone.

“When you think of legendary tracks on the whole circuit [this is one],” said Honda CRF 450 rider Cole Seely. “I always remember the first time I raced here. It’s always a cool event.”

Cool – and unique. The Daytona course, once again designed by five-time DAYTONA Supercross By Honda champion Ricky Carmichael – acclaimed as the greatest Supercross rider in history – has a layout more akin to a wide-open motocross track, compared to smaller stadium courses typical in AMA Supercross.

“The dirt mainly [makes it different],” Seely said. “They build pretty much the same obstacles we run each weekend but it’s a little more spread out and the dirt is a little softer which makes for some tough and unique lines. The track’s always changing every three laps. You have do some searching throughout the whole event.”

Carmichael says the course actually is slightly tighter this year. But its character remains the same, a perfect fit for the full-contact sport of Supercross.

“What makes this track tougher is the elements … the sand,” Carmichael said. “It’s just … tough. No two ways about it. It gets more brutal every lap. That’s what makes it Daytona.”

Port Orange native and Kawasaki rider Adam Cianciarulo comes into the event in third place in the series’ 250SX East standings and comes off his best result of the year – a second-place effort in Toronto. He would love to win at Daytona, of course.

“The [desire] is there for me at every race, but especially in front of the home crowd at Daytona,” Cianciarulo said. “It’s definitely an event all the riders mark on their calendars as one they want to win.”

The DAYTONA Supercross By Honda has a practice session scheduled for Friday from 12-1 p.m. followed by two qualifying sessions – 1-2:25 and 3:10-4:35. First heats go off at 7:06 p.m.

Tickets for all Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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