Motocross: Ryan Dungey wins in front of home crowd at Spring Creek (VIDEO)

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In a return to his home state of Minnesota, Belle Plaine native Ryan Dungey returned to the top of the 450 Class podium with a 1-1 sweep of the Spring Creek National, the eighth round of 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship.

Dungey won at Spring Creek in five straight seasons from 2008-2012 but had not been atop the podium at his home race since then. Today’s win not only snapped that drought, it also ended a three-race winless streak this season. The Red Bull KTM rider now leads the 450 Class with three overall wins and seven moto wins.

Fresh off a two-race win streak, Justin Barcia continued his trend of strong starts. He grabbed the holeshot in both motos, extending his holeshot streak to five consecutive motos and giving him eight total for the season. During his five-moto holeshot streak, Barcia has not finished worse than second in any of those races, but he has repeatedly had to contend with Dungey.

In Moto 1, Dungey went from third to first on the opening lap. First he got around Barcia’s JGR Yamaha teammate Phil Nicoletti after wheelieing into a jump and racing him side-by-side in the air. Then a tipover from Barcia allowed Dungey to take the lead away, and although Barcia kept the Red Bull KTM rider within sight for awhile, he couldn’t mount a challenge.

Dungey went on to win the moto, with Barcia finishing second. Ken Roczen rounded out the top three for the moto, with two more Suzuki riders – Blake Baggett and Broc Tickle – also inside the top five.

In the second moto, Barcia was able to maintain his holeshot-induced lead for a bit longer, although he very nearly lost out on the holeshot to Rockstar Husqvarna’s Jason Anderson. After some back and forth racing between the two, Barcia eventually secured the top spot but once again faced pressure from Dungey, who got around Fredrik Noren and Anderson to move into second.

Barcia led the first three laps of the race, but about eight-and-a-half minutes into the moto, he ceded the position to his recent nemesis. Once again, Dungey and Barcia would go 1-2 in the moto, putting them first and second overall, respectively, for the day.

“[This win] means a lot,” Dungey said after the race. “It’s been a couple years since I won here, and I always hate leaving. I had a couple tough breaks the previous years, but that one came down to me and Justin, and when I made the pass, I just tried to drop the hammer, and I was able to open up a little bit of a lead.”

Roczen appeared to be riding comfortably in third in Moto 2, but Baggett made a charge and caught him, making a pass with the countdown clock winding down to its final minutes. The pass proved to be the deciding factor in the battle for the final spot on the overall podium, as Baggett (4-3) edged out Roczen (3-4) for third overall by virtue of a tiebreaker, the better finish in the second moto.

Today’s win was Dungey’s second big accomplishment this week. On Wednesday night, he won an ESPY for Best Male Action Sports Athlete.

With four rounds left in the season, Dungey now holds a 56-point lead over Ken Roczen in the 450 Class championship standings. Barcia sits third, 69 points behind Dungey and just 13 back of Roczen.

450 Class Overall Results
1. Ryan Dungey (1-1)
2. Justin Barcia (2-2)
3. Blake Baggett (4-3)
4. Ken Roczen (3-4)
5. Jason Anderson (6-6)
6. Broc Tickle (5-7)
7. Fredrik Noren (8-5)
8. Christophe Pourcel (9-8)
9. Phil Nicoletti (7-10)
10. Josh Grant (10-9)

3-time NHRA champ Larry Dixon gives back to save lives on the streets

Photo courtesy Larry Dixon Racing
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Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon is a man on a new mission: to save lives on the streets and highways as perhaps the fastest driving instructor in the world.

Because he’s not currently hurtling down a dragstrip at 330 mph on the NHRA national tour, Dixon is at a point where it was time for him to give back and help youngsters the way so many individuals helped him in his own life and career.

Much like when he became the protege of mentor Don “Snake” Prudhomme – first as a crew member and then as Prudhomme’s hand-picked choice to replace him when he retired as a driver – Dixon is now imparting some of his vast knowledge behind the wheel upon thousands of impressionable teens and young adults around the country.

Dixon recently signed on as an instructor with fellow former Top Fuel champ Doug Herbert’s nationally renowned B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) driver safety training program. Since Herbert formed the free, non-profit program in 2008 to honor the memory of sons Jon and James, who were both killed in a tragic car crash, B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained over 35,000 students across the U.S. and five countries to be better and safer drivers.

MORE: Drag racer Doug Herbert turns son’s deaths into program that has helped over 35,000 teens

After putting two of his own teen children through Herbert’s program (with a third child to go through the program soon), Dixon was so impressed with the training that his kids received that he told his old buddy he wanted to become involved with B.R.A.K.E.S.

“I’ve known Doug since we were in high school,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “We both worked at a chain of speed shops in Southern California, Doug at one in Orange County and me at one in the San Fernando Valley in Van Nuys. We came up together racing Alcohol cars and Top Fuel cars kind of along the same lines. That’s how long I’ve known Doug.

Photo: Larry Dixon Racing

“I ran my son through the course a couple years ago when it came through Indianapolis (where Dixon and his family now live), and then my daughter signed up for a class a couple months ago, and that kind of got the talk going because I’m not on the (NHRA national event) tour now and I’ve got more time and the conversation just snowballed and here I am.

“I obviously believe in the deal if I ran my own kids through the system. The program is very methodical but still personal. When you put the kids in the car, you’ve got one instructor and three students, so they’re getting taught one-on-one almost.”

Even though he’s been driving for nearly 40 years, Dixon, 52, readily admits with a chuckle, “I’ve even learned things from the program already, which shows you’re never too old to learn.”

In a more serious vein, Dixon said from his perspective as both an instructor and a parent of two of the program’s graduates is how parents are so vital to the program’s impact.

“It’s mandatory that when you’re running a student through the program that at least one parent or guardian is also there, so the message you’re teaching the teens, you have to rely on the parent to not only be on the same page as what we’re teaching, but to also drive that message home for the rest of their lives.”

Dixon isn’t teaching students to drive 330 mph or to become aspiring drag racers. On the contrary. Dixon is right at home giving instructions on how students can avoid incidents or accidents on streets and highways at speeds typically between 30 and 50 mph.

“It’s more impactful as far as your legacy,” Dixon said of his motivation to teach. “Obviously, I’ve won a lot of races, but what I have to show for those wins are trophies but they’re in the basement, and if you don’t dust them, they get dusty.

“What I’m doing with B.R.A.K.E.S., you’re making a difference for people hopefully for the rest of their lives, and that’s bigger. I remember when I first got my own racing license. The first day I had my license, I was a race car driver but I wasn’t a great race car driver right away, I just had a license. It took a lot of years and a lot of runs and laps down the racetrack to be able to be good.

“It’s the same thing with a driver’s license. You go through the driver’s education course and such and they hand you your license, but that doesn’t make you a great driver. It takes a lot of road time to be able to get that experience. And the great thing about this course is you’re trying to ramp up that experience and put the teens in situations ahead of time so that when they’re in the real world, they’ll know how to react to them.

Larry Dixon is interviewed recently during his debut as a driving instructor for B.R.A.K.E.S. Photo courtesy B.R.A.K.E.S.

“These cars nowadays have so many safety features on them, but they don’t get taught. When you go through a basic driver’s education course, they don’t teach you that you can slam on the brakes and if you have an ABS (anti-lock) brake system, let alone how to use it, so that’s part of what we’re running the kids through. It lets them speed up and then slam on the brakes and feeling what ABS does and that a car isn’t going to spin out or flip over like you might see in a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie. Most people don’t know what you can do with a car and how great cars will take care of you as long as they use the tools you’re supplied with.”

Dixon has already taught three different classes in the last month, with five more sessions scheduled primarily in the Midwest in the coming months. You can immediately hear the passion and self-satisfaction he’s getting from being a teacher.

“I really do enjoy it,” Dixon said. “You get to see the difference you can make in someone’s lives. When you get them on a skid course and they’re learning how to get out of a spin or slide, they’re having fun but also learning a valuable lesson.

“After they’ve taken the course, they have a bounce in their step and know and understand cars better and have a good time doing it. That’s what Doug has done, out of his tragedy, he’s really making a difference in other people’s lives. We’re not trying to turn the kids into Mario Andretti or anything like that … just to be better and safer drivers.”

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