The 25th Team USA Scholarship recipients are Dickerson, Stephens

Dickerson and Stephens. Photo: Team USA Scholarship
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Jeremy Shaw’s Team USA Scholarship has been doled out for the 25th consecutive year. This year’s winners are Dakota Dickerson and Michai Stephens, the latter of whom is the fifth driver to win the award twice (Jerry Nadeau, Paul Edwards, Neil Alberico and Spencer Pigot).

The full release is below:

Talented young Americans Dakota Dickerson, from San Diego, and Michai Stephens, from Evanston, Ill., were today named as winners of 2015 Team USA Scholarships. Following in the footsteps of such accomplished alumni as Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Joey Hand, A.J. Allmendinger, Josef Newgarden and many others, the pair will travel to England this month to further their fledgling racing careers.

Dickerson and Stephens earned their selection following a shootout last month aboard Allen Berg Racing Schools FR1600 cars running on Cooper tires at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California. The adjudicating panel included Rice, who, after claiming a Team USA Scholarship in 1997, went on to win the 2004 Indianapolis 500 and 2009 Rolex 24 At Daytona, plus two-time sports car champion Alex Gurney and accomplished race engineers Geoff Fickling, Kent Stacy and Gerald Tyler.

The pair will represent their country in the famed Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone, driving Ray chassis prepared by Cliff Dempsey Racing and boasting the scholarship’s distinctive and traditional red-white-and-blue colors.

“The Team USA Scholarship is an honor, privilege and recognition of what the future might hold,” said Stephens, 23, who returns for a second year after also winning a scholarship in 2014. “Pure passion, an open mind and desire to stand for something greater define what this opportunity has meant to me. Being selected for the 2015 scholarship has put me back in the driver’s seat – a place of developing comfort that has taught me some of life’s greatest lessons. It has and will once again give me the chance to test my mind, body and soul. This experience has yet to compare to anything else in life by developing and refining my belief of the future. Becoming a racing driver is an honest part of my life now . . . A dream come reality!”

“I am extremely honored to have been chosen to represent the Team USA Scholarship,” added Dickerson,18, who remains in contention for the Skip Barber Racing Summer Series championship after claiming a pair of wins last week at VIRginia International Raceway. “For 25 years now the Team USA Scholarship has helped advance many young drivers’ careers, and to become one of those drivers is an indescribable feeling. I look forward to representing the United States overseas and learning from this great experience. I can’t thank Jeremy Shaw, the RRDC, SAFEisFAST, Doug Mockett, Cooper Tires and all of the supporters of the Team USA Scholarship enough for making this opportunity possible.”

The Team USA Scholarship in 2015 is celebrating 25 years of providing opportunities for American race car drivers.

“This is a big year for our program and I couldn’t be happier with our selections,” said Team USA Scholarship founder and noted auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw. “Even though Michai has raced only infrequently in 2015, he has continued to work hard on establishing the connections that will allow him to flourish in the future. The standard at the shootout was high, as usual, but Dakota and Michai were especially impressive in every aspect.”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.