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.

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds