The Monster Energy Supercross series returned to Tampa for the first time in nearly 20 years. The TPJ Fly Racing team was excited to get to Raymond James Stadium for another chance to let our riders shine in front of thousands of fans.
This week, the TPJ Racing team had Ben Lamay, Chad Cook and Dylan Merriam in the 450 class, as well as John Short in the 250 class.
Tampa brought new track conditions and obstacles for our athletes, including a white-sand section, with some of the deepest and loosest sand we have ever seen.
The track proved to be tough on the athletes, including Chad Cook, who suffered a night-ending injury from a qualifying crash. Cook went to the hospital to be assessed, but the initial prognosis included a punctured lung and broken ribs. We hope to have additional information on his condition soon.
Lamay and Merriam were both able to qualify within the fast forty in the 450 class, and Short was able to break the fast forty in the 250 class. The three went on to line up in the heats, but the track made trouble for the boys, sending all three to the LCQ.
“I struggled all day getting comfortable with the track and executing the rhythm lane before the sand and it reflected in my lap times.” Short said. “I don’t feel like I gelled with the track, but when the gate dropped I gave it 100%.”
Lamay and Merriam both got incredible starts in the LCQ; Lamay started in 3rd and Merriam was hot on his heels in 4th. The two battled to catch up to Chad Reed. Lamay was able to pass Matt Bisceglia for second – while Merriam narrowly missed the transfer position.
John Short had another wild night at the races when he lined up for the LCQ. A bad start had him clawing back ground, but a crazy final turn pass moved him all the way up to 4th. His struggle paid off with a main event transfer spot, but the carnage in the LCQ left him at a disadvantage.
“In between the LCQ and the main we had to swap brake lines in a hurry to get back to the gate. We bled the front brake on the gate and then realized that my hole shot device was broken from the LCQ.” Short explained. “We had to take the hole shot device fork ring off so it didn’t damage my fork.”
Despite all of the obstacles, Short was able to make his way to 15th overall in the main event.
“I came out safe through it, and I’m hungry to do better next weekend” Short said.
Lamay had one of his best starts of the season in the 450 main, jumping right into the mix in sixth place. As the sandy chaos ensued, he slipped back, battling with factory riders who had started further behind. At the end of the night, Lamay finished 17th overall.
“I felt great in practice but once racing started I fought my bike all night”, Lamay explained. “I rode poorly in the main event and ended up 17th, but I took a lot of knowledge about the weekend to improve upon and I look to make a turnaround in Atlanta.”
The TPJ Fly Racing team is extremely proud of our athletes who persevered through the tough conditions, and are happy with their progress and results. Our team sponsor, DSC Construction, will be refunding the entry fees of our main event qualifiers.
We are looking forward to heading to the new stadium for the next round in Atlanta – we hope to see you there!
Words: Anna Glennon