Preview: Martin, Musquin battle for Pro Motocross championship in series finale (Today, Live Extra)

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The 2015 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship concludes today with the Bud Light Ironman National, the final round of the season, and there’s a lot on the line.

NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage all day starting at 10:30 a.m. ET. Coverage will include the inaugural Legends Race, which features past champions such as Ricky Carmichael, and the crowning of a 250 Class champion. Click here to access the Live Extra steam.

Ironman National: Live Extra Schedule
10:30 a.m. ET – Practice
11:30 a.m. ET – Pre-Race Show
12:30 p.m. ET – Legends Race
1:00 p.m. ET – 450 Moto 1
2:00 p.m. ET – 250 Moto 1
3:00 p.m. ET – 450 Moto 2
4:00 p.m. ET – 250 Moto 2

The biggest story of the day revolves around the championship battle in the 250 Class. Eleven rounds have come and gone, and with one final race left before the season ends, there is still no clear-cut favorite between Yamalube/Star Racing/Yamaha’s Jeremy Martin and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin.

All summer long, the two riders have traded wins, and the points lead – which has never grown larger than 19 points – has exchanged hands a few times. Now the two title contenders enter the last round separated by just two points, making this one of the most highly-anticipated Nationals in quite some time.

As always, today’s race will feature two motos. Here’s a look at all the different outcomes in play for both riders:

  • If either Martin or Musquin sweeps both motos, they will win the championship.
  • If Martin gets 1-2 or 2-1 moto finishes, he will win the championship.
  • If Martin finishes ahead of Musquin, earns the same number of points as Musquin or loses no more than 1 point to Musquin, Martin will win the championship.
  • If Musquin picks up 3 or more points on Martin, Musquin will win the championship.
  • If Musquin picks up exactly 2 points on Martin, it will come down to a tiebreaker. The first tiebreaker is number of moto wins, a category that Musquin currently leads 10-9.

The title fight appears destined to come down to the final moto of the season, but despite the intense pressure they’ll be faced with today, both riders will try to block out all the distractions once the gate drops.

“Come Saturday, I focus on what I can control,” Martin said. “That’s how I’m gonna ride and that’s how I’m gonna approach the situation. I knew that it would come down to the wire. I was 19 points down after Glen Helen, Round 2, and I knew it was gonna come down to the last round, to the last moto. So I’m mentally prepared for it.”

Musquin echoed that sentiment. “The goal is to win both motos and not think about anything else or anybody on the track,” he said. “I just want to do my job and do the best I can. Honestly it’s gonna be a lot of pressure – that’s for sure – but I want to focus on myself and not think about the other guys. That’s the best I can do.”

This title fight has brought the topic of “team tactics” to the forefront of discussion. Last weekend at Utah, Cooper Webb – a teammate of Martin’s under the Star Yamaha rig – was leading Moto 2 with Martin in second and Musquin in third. When Martin caught up to Webb, Webb didn’t put up a fight, instead allowing Martin to move around him into the lead. The pass moved Martin back into the points lead. Had Webb kept himself in front of Martin, Musquin would be holding the championship lead instead right now.

While Martin could potentially receive help again from Webb this week, Musquin does not have that luxury. If Musquin wants to win this title, he’ll have to do it on his own.

“At the end of the day, what you want is to win by yourself,” Musquin said. “It’s an individual sport. I don’t have teammates, and if I win, I’ll be proud of myself. Winning on your own is the best.”

A championship would be significant for both riders for different reasons. For Musquin, this is his final season in the 250 Class and therefore his last opportunity to win a title before moving up to a 450 next year.

As for Martin, he is looking to defend last year’s championship and hold on to the #1 plate for another year. “It’d be nice to be able to defend the title in the first try,” he said. “Not a lot of people are able to defend it their first try. The first one’s sweet, but the second one is gonna be even sweeter.”

 

IndyCar’s Scott Dixon staying fit with new training regimen during layoff

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During a regular racing schedule, five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing would spend much of his time between races at PitFit in Indianapolis.

The highly advanced workout facility on the northwest side of Indianapolis is run by noted sports trainer Jim Leo. His clientele includes IndyCar Series drivers and other athletes in the area.

In addition to the array of workout machines, Leo’s facility also has advanced equipment to test a driver’s reaction time. These range from a board with lights that rapidly flash, and a driver has to hit the board to turn them off. There are other tests drivers do to keep their skills sharp and reaction time focused.

Times have changed, though.

Indiana is under a statewide lockdown with the exception of essential services only. Instead of going to PitFit, Dixon is working out at his home on the north side of Indianapolis.

RELATED: How is Sabres’ star Jack Eichel staying fit?

His reaction time is being tested by his wife, Emma, throwing a tennis ball at him, changing the direction with each toss.

“I’ve gone back to old school, like tennis balls and Emma can drop them or throw them,” Dixon told NBCSports.com. “As long as you keep up with basic cardio and lift weights and work on the neck muscles, that’s the harder part to get ready for.

“I had already stopped going into Pit Fit last week. We had not been doing that for a while. Haven’t left the house for 13 days, now. We went to the grocery store once. The rest of the stuff has been delivered.

“We’re locked down, man, trying to do our best for everyone else.”


Dixon’s home has an impressive array of workout equipment. That allows the 39-year-old racing legend to stay fit during this extended time off that won’t end until the last week of May at the earliest.

“I have most of the stuff I need at home,” Dixon explained. “Some of the reaction stuff, the D-2s and Synaptic machines plus some of the upper-body machines, are pretty unique machines. Those are the machines that Jim Leo has at PitFit.

“As far as cycling, running, general weights, skiers and rollers, I have that at home.”

It seems like a lifetime ago when the world was normal. That was before the dreaded novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic literally sent society underground and locked in while awaiting a solution to this fatal virus.

Photo by Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Before this unexpected shutdown, Dixon would go into PitFit to work on specialized equipment on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He would do the rest of his physical workout at home.

“I started skipping that when we got home before the lockdown,” Dixon said. “Before the lockdown, Jim could have stayed open because he never has more than 10 people at once.

“Typically, he would have the drivers spaced out where Tony Kanaan and I would go in at 8 in the morning, and Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe would go in at 9:30, and then Zach Veach and Spencer Pigot and Charlie Kimball would go in around 11. There were only about five of us going in at once.”

Two weeks ago, Leo dropped off some equipment at Dixon’s house along with more instructions to focus on his workouts during the layoff.

Sacrifices are being made all throughout the world, including racing.

“You can’t be selfish,” Dixon said. “It sucks for the drivers, but it sucks a lot worse for a lot of other people. Luckily, the school the girls go to has e-learning. It’s school as usual on the computer from 8:30 to 3 and that has been seamless on that front.

“On a personal note, it’s nice to be home with the baby and bonding as well, and that is great. But all of us wish everything was back to normal as soon as possible.”

RELATED: Vikings’ Kyle Rudolph adjusting to ‘new normal’ for training

Dixon is the father of three, including young daughters Poppy (10), Tilly (8) and infant son, Kit.

This is a time to keep his family safe.

“You hear mixed messages about who is more at risk,” Dixon said. “Obviously, older people with underlying conditions. We’re a fairly healthy family, but still it sounds like something can trigger a pretty bad situation. It’s better to be safe than sorry so we are limiting our contact as fast as possible. The quicker everybody locks down, the quicker we will get through the situation. If we stay home, we will see a decline and hopefully get back to normal pretty quickly.

“It’s a new thing for everybody.”


For now, Dixon works out at home, while the girls continue their classes on the computer. Emma spends time with her infant son, Kit, while taking care of the family.

These days of working out at home will be important because once racing is scheduled to return, tentatively set for May 30 at Detroit, it will be flat-out, racing nearly every weekend.

There won’t be time off inbetween races.

“No, but everybody is having plenty of rest right now,” Dixon quipped. “It’s not what anybody wants. We all keep hoping everybody remains safe and healthy. It’s a difficult time for a lot of people and we’ve been very lucky that we don’t know anybody that has had an issue so far. Hopefully, that remains the same.

“Everybody is ready to go. We were ready to go at St. Pete. This will be welcomed greatly.

“Nothing is normal these days. I think what IndyCar and IMS did was probably the best of the situations. You never want to move the dates of the 500, but you always want the people to be relaxed enough they are going to come to the race, too.

“The way they have done the schedule is pretty cool. It gives them enough wiggle room now with Detroit being the kickoff. What is also fun is the July 4 doubleheader weekend at Indianapolis and St. Pete finishing the season.”

Once life returns to normal, depending on what the new normal will look like, race drivers and athletes will once again be in an area they know.

The difficult part of this, however, is nobody knows when the COVID-19 outbreak will end.

“The hard part right now is there are so many unknowns,” Dixon said. “That is what people hate. They could wrap their hands around two weeks, but it could be another six weeks. People will go crazy.

“That is what we are going through right now. The unknown. Nobody knows what the next step is.”

That is why Dixon has a message for all race fans to take these orders seriously.

“Stay safe. Stay away from people. Lock down. Get this period done with,” Dixon said. “Once we do that, hopefully we can crack on like normal, and people can find fixes and therapies. As soon as everybody bunkers down, we will get through this sooner instead of later.

“Let’s get back to normal as quick as possible and get back to racing when we can.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500