Bob Fourney, riding hard despite a sore neck, took a 1 1/2-hour lead Sunday in the Race Across America.
Fourney of Denver, Colo., is riding to overcome 45 minutes in penalties as well as stay ahead of second-place Rob Kish of Port Orange, Fla.
Fourney was 2,590 miles into the race, just past Marvyn, Ala., as of 9 p.m. (PDT). He has 332 miles to go until the finish of the 2,922-mile race in Savannah, Ga.
The winner is expected to finish sometime early Tuesday morning.
Fourney rode most of Sunday with his head down because of a sore neck, but his crew doesn't expect it to be a problem.
His neck is sore from holding his head erect while riding. The race started at 9 a.m. Aug. 5 at the Irvine Holiday Inn.
"I don't think it's anything major," a crew member said. "It's not bothering him more than it should in something like this."
Kish was about three hours back early in the day until late Sunday afternoon when he started to close in.
Rich Fedrigon of Chicago passed Al Muldoon of St. Joseph, Mich., Sunday to move into third place. Fedrigon is 248 miles behind Fourney and Muldoon is 40 miles behind Fedrigon.
Darrell Bowles of Tempe, Ariz., has moved into fifth for the first time in the race, but is close to 400 miles behind Fourney.
Jim Penseyres of San Juan Capistrano is in 13th place, 550 miles in back of Fourney.
Nancy Raposo of Newport, R.I., holds a commanding lead in the women's division. She was in Filmore, La., 2,045 into the race. Cheryl Marek of Seattle is second, 193 miles back. Michelle Grainger of Portland, the only other woman remaining, is 275 miles off the lead.
Three women, six men and a tandem team have dropped out of the race.
Roger Charleville of Cincinnati and Bob Breedlove of Des Moines, Iowa, were in Edwards, Miss., 2,235 miles into the race as of 9 p.m. The pair started last Monday, instead of Sunday like the others because they are expected to cover the course faster.