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.

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Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.