What to watch for: Pro Motocross at Spring Creek (1 p.m. ET, Live Extra)

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Watch live coverage of Round 8 of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship from Spring Creek today on NBC Sports Live Extra. The pre-race show will start at 1 p.m. ET, followed by first motos in both classes at 2 p.m. ET and then second motos at 4 p.m. ET. (Click here to access the live stream.) NBCSN will also have television coverage of second motos at 11 p.m. ET.

Here are the key stories to watch heading into today’s motos.

250 CLASS: HOMECOMING FOR THE MARTIN BROTHERS

When Spring Creek Motocross Park is described as the “home track” of brothers Jeremy and Alex Martin, that statement could not be any more true. Their parents, John and Greta Martin, have owned the facility – which is located in Millville, Minnesota – since 1987, and the track is situated right in the backyard of the house that the Martin brothers grew up in.

Today, Spring Creek will host the eighth round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, and while the Martin brothers are a hot topic every year when the series races here, this time around looks to be the most intriguing visit to the track yet for Jeremy and Alex.

The defending champion of the 250 Class, Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin has been in a back-and-forth battle all season long with Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin. Thanks to a 1-1 sweep two weeks ago at RedBud, Jeremy regained the championship lead and carries a seven-point advantage into Spring Creek.

As for Alex, the CycleTrader.com/Rock River/Yamaha rider has made a huge jump this year. A borderline top-ten rider in past years, he currently sits fifth in points and has repeatedly found himself in a position to challenge for podium finishes. Just a few weeks ago at Budds Creek, he broke through for the first moto win of his career.

Jeremy won at Spring Creek last year for the first time in his career, and it comes as no surprise that Alex has historically raced well there too. Thanks to Alex’s breakout year, the two brothers have found themselves battling head-to-head on the track multiple times this season. Might it happen again today?

“Alex and I train together, and we’re still gonna do it leading up to Millville,” Jeremy said after RedBud, before jokingly taking a shot at his older brother. “It’s been good racing. He’s gonna try to beat me [at Millville], but I’m gonna show him who’s boss.”

250 CLASS: WEBB READY TO STRIKE BACK?

Aside from Musquin, the biggest threat to a second straight Millville win may not come from Jeremy Martin’s brother – it may be his teammate, Cooper Webb.

In his second race back from injury, Webb looked strong at RedBud and very well could have swept both motos. He was en route to a win in the first moto until Martin kicked things up a notch late in the race and stole the win with a last-lap pass. Webb still found himself in position to win the overall with a victory in Moto 2, but he crashed while leading and allowed Martin to pass him once again.

Martin and Musquin may be dominating the standings, but prior to his injury at the opening round, Webb was expected to be right in the mix with those two. With two races under his belt and coming out of an off-week, Webb should be even more prepared and may have a chance to spoil his teammate’s homecoming. He finished third overall at Millville last year but won the second moto.

450 CLASS: DUNGEY WANTS BACK ATOP PODIUM

The Martin brothers aren’t the only Minnesota natives lining up as favorites. In the 450 Class, Belle Plaine’s Ryan Dungey carries a 44-point lead into this round.

While he has a solid track record at Spring Creek – capturing a victory in five straight seasons from 2008-2012 – Dungey has been winless in his last two appearances there.

The Red Bull KTM rider is also looking to snap a recent drought this season. Although he is tied for the lead with two overall wins in the 450 Class, Dungey has not won an overall since Round 4 at High Point, instead watching Ken Roczen and Justin Barcia emerge with first-place trophies. Roczen is the defending champion of the class, and Barcia is riding a sky-high wave of confidence after two straight wins, so both will be formidable foes for Dungey today.

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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