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Dean Wilson’s Cinderella story at Anaheim ends in fourth

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It will pay to remember that Cinderella’s slipper was made of glass.

In last week’s Monster Energy Supercross season opener at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, Dean Wilson grabbed the hole shot in his heat before eventually falling 2.78 seconds behind to Ken Roczen. His second-place finish gave him a great gate position that allowed him to get the hole shot again in the Main. On a heavy track that was rapidly rutting, he led the first 14 laps.

It appeared Wilson was on his way to winning.

Wilson never wanted to be Cinderella. By the fifth round of the 2017 season, he was offered a factory ride with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna. He immediately began scoring top 10s with the team.

He lost factory support at the end of last year and immediately switched gears toward once more becoming a privateer.

“It was non-stop all through December,” Wilson said on this week’s PulpMX Podcast. “Honestly, the hardest thing about being a privateer is the running about you’ve got to do. I’d be done riding and then I’d have to get wheels. I’d be ordering clutches and then writing emails. There’s a lot that goes into it. A lot more work. Stress. The one thing about factory teams is you ride, train, rest. That’s it.”

Then came January and Wilson’s replacement at Rockstar/Husqvarna Zach Osborne sustained a collarbone injury in a practice crash.

Speculation surrounded Wilson and whether he would become a fill-in driver. The offseason investment in his own team was too considerable to make that an appealing choice, but he and Rockstar/Husky settled on an agreement in which they provide assistance.

At Anaheim those two forces combined to almost give Wilson the victory.

“I think it was a great day,” Wilson said. “Qualified second, hole shotted my heat, led the heat for a bit and then hole shot in the Main.”

Remember that Cinderella’s slipper is made of glass. It didn’t shatter, but it developed some cracks with about five minutes remaining on the clock.

The muddy track obscured his goggles, which slowed him before he eventually discarded them partway through the event. The bigger obstacle was lapped riders he was forced to get around.

“I wish I had a remote where I could rewind and change a couple of things,” Wilson said. “It kind of hurts. I feel like I could have and should have won it. I was in the prefect position for it. I ran into some lappers and when I met that double, double in the middle I was committed to double – but the rut was getting really choppy. I made a mistake.”

When Just Barcia caught him on Lap 14, Wilson chose the wrong side of the lappers handing the lead to the eventual winner. Roczen and Eli Tomac also got around the No. 15 Husqvarna.

“We’ve got 16 more tries.” Wilson said as he searched for and found the silver lining.

Inside every silver lining is a black cloud, however.

“I almost feel like it’s a last shot kind of thing,” Wilson said about his privateer season. “Like this is my last shot, or I find something else. I’ve worked my butt off training a riding – and being a privateer for the rest of my career; it’s not really ideal.. Sure it’s run right now, but I want to be back on a factory team and I want to get results.”

Next race: January 12, State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Penske won’t discuss if Castroneves returns to Indy in 2020

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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INDIANAPOLIS – NBC Sports.com asked Indianapolis 500 winning team owner Roger Penske if three-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves would return to the team in 2020?

Penske immediately brushed off the question.

“We’re not going to talk about that right now,” Penske told NBC Sports.com. “I’m just not going to talk about it. We’re going to have a meeting about it before we decide, but I’m not going to talk about that right now.

“Simon won the race and that is what I’m focused on right now.”

Simon Pagenaud, gave Penske a record-extending 18thIndy 500 win on Sunday. Penske confirmed that Pagenaud will be back with the team in 2020 after he scored his first win in Sunday’s 103rdIndianapolis 500.

Castroneves was an NTT IndyCar Series regular at Team Penske from 2000 until the 2017 season. After that, Castroneves was shifted over to the team’s Acura IMSA Sports Car program, but the three-time Indy 500 winner was given a ride at both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years.

The popular driver from Brazil is trying to join AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time Indy 500 winners.

But the whispers in Gasoline Alley indicate his future with Team Penske at Indy remain uncertain.

“I’ve heard the rumors, too,” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com on pit lane after his disappointing finish in the Indy 500. “I will definitely give it a good, hard think about coming back in 2020. I want to be the rest of the season, here.”

But, will Castroneves run the Indy 500 again?

“Who knows?” Castroneves told NBC Sports.com. “Let’s see what happens.”

Castroneves’s bid for a fourth Indianapolis 500 was derailed in a pit road incident after his first pit stop when he ran into James Davison’s Chevrolet on the team’s first pit stop on Lap 30.

The front wing of Castroneves’s Chevrolet was damaged and INDYCAR officials gave him a “Drive Through” penalty for “Avoidable Contact.” Castroneves would ultimate drop three laps down but finished one lap down in 18thplace.

Castroneves explained what happened to him earlier in the race and how it affected the rest of his Indy 500.

“The accident that happened in the pits hurt us for sure,” Castroneves explained. “We had a problem with the fuel mapping, and I couldn’t go over 200 miles an hour for four or five laps. We lost 35 seconds. There was a bug in the system.

“Then, we went back out and that was it. I wasn’t able to recoup after that. I was excited. The car was very, very good entering the race.”

Castroneves spoke with second-place finisher Alexander Rossi, who was furious with the driver from Brazil earlier in the race for not moving out of the way, even though he was three laps down at the time.

The two drivers hugged, and Castroneves walked back up pit lane.

“I did what the team told me to do, and they told me to go as fast as I could,” Castroneves explained after talking to Rossi. “It’s racing and everybody is upset they didn’t win.”

Castroneves hopes his walk up pit lane is not the final time as an Indy 500 competitor.

But it could be.

“I hope I can come back next year,” Castroneves said. “I’m really upset as a competitor, but extremely happy for Team Penske and for Simon Pagenaud for winning the race.

“The good news is I go back to the Acura sports car, but I will be dreaming about coming back here again.”