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Las Vegas 250 Supercross: Ferrandis upsets Cianciarulo in West; Sexton wins the East

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Dylan Ferrandis knew he needed a little help to win the 250 West championship. He was more than prepared to do what was needed by earning the holeshot and dominating the Main. It was not going to be enough, however, with Adam Cianciarulo riding fourth.

With two minutes left on the clock, points leader Adam Cianciarulo handed him the championship when he crashed hard and bent his handlebar.

In the 250 East division, Chase Sexton had an easier night of it, bringing a nine-point advantage into the race. He watched his principal rival Justin Cooper fade outside the top 10 and knew that all he needed was to run a clean, steady race.

Ferrandis’ race win was never in question. He led flag to flag, while drama played out behind him. On the opening lap, he was in a points tie with his rival Cianciarulo. Comfortable in the knowledge that he had the tiebreaker, Cianciarulo rode calmly through Lap 1. The East division points leader Sexton rode one position ahead of him, but Sexton’s main rival Cooper was well back in the pack.

After Cianciarulo went down, “I just tried to stay focused but emotion was difficult to control,” Ferrandis said after being awarded the Number 1 plate signifying his championship. “It’s unbelievable. Wow.”

“It’s more than a dream come true.”

Ferrandis achieved the championship with a determined charge at the end of the season. He won back to back races in Seattle and Houston, finished second in the 250 Showdown in Atlanta and again in Denver.

“I got just a little too close to the tough block there and crashed – and would have been fine I think, but I got up and the bike was super mangled and unrideable,” a gutted Cianciarulo said outside of his hauler. “It’s unfortunate; that’s all I’ve got to say.”

“Unfortunately I made a mistake that cost me the chance to be a champion. I’ve been in this situation before and I’ve felt what the bottom feels like. I have some perspective. The sun’s going to come out tomorrow. … We put everything into this. You put your self-worth into it. I feel like a failure right now, but tomorrow I’m going to wake up. I’m going to put the boots on and go to work.”

Sexton could not afford to make a mistake so he rode a nice, safe race and finished fourth in the feature.

“That was the longest Main event I ever had in my life,” Sexton said on USA Network after the race. “To do it here in Vegas feels so good. I’ve been wanting this for so long and to get it my second year at only 19 years old is awesome.”

RJ Hampshire scored his second podium finish of the season with a third-place finish.

Cameron McAdoo saved his best for last. He finished third, which was not only his first podium of the season, but also his first top-five. McAdoo finished sixth four times, including in the most recent West race at Denver.

Alex Martin rounded out the top five.

Complete Results
West Points Standings
East Points Standings

250 West Heat: The West division set the tone for their championship with a head’s up heat. RJ Hampshire got the hole shot and held the lead till the finish. … Michael Mosiman finished a little more than a second behind with points leader Adam Cianciarulo, who was less than half a second back. … Dylan Ferrandis was outside the top nine on Lap 1, but he charged through the field to finish fourth, and transfer to the Main.

250 East Heat: Chase Sexton served notice he would be the rider to beat with the holeshot. He held the lead till the checkers. … Martin Davalos crossed under the checkers second with Kyle Peters third. … Justin Cooper struggled throughout the heat and never challenged for a top five. He was elevated to sixth at the checkers after Mitchell Oldenburg took a hard tumble with time running off the clock. He was running sixth at the time, but after getting pinned under his bike, he fell to 12th.

250 Last Chance Qualifier: In an East / West Showdown, the LCQ is almost as packed with talent as the Main in either division’s standalone races. Lorenzo Locurcio grabbed the lead just before the white flag waved and advanced to the Main. … He took the lead from Mitchell Falk, who inherited it after Mitchell Oldenburg crashed for the second time Saturday night. … Justin Starling and Chase Marquier also advanced. … When it’s not your night – it’s not your night. Oldenburg went down in exactly the same spot as he did in his heat race and once again got pinned beneath his bike. He ended the night three laps off the pace in 18th.

Points Leaders

250SX West
Dylan Ferrandis (226) (3 wins)
Adam Cianciarulo (211 points) (5 wins)
Colt Nichols (180) (1 win)
RJ Hampshire (168)
Cameron McAdoo (149)

250SX East
Chase Sexton (193) (1 win)
Justin Cooper (180)
Austin Forkner (152 points) (5 wins)
Martin Davalos (148) (1 win)
Alex Martin (139)

Top 5s

250SX West
Adam Cianciarulo: 9
Dylan Ferrandis: 8
Colt Nichols: 6
RJ Hampshire: 6
Shane McElrath: 5
James Decotis: 4
Jacob Hayes: 1
Garrett Marchbanks: 1
Jess Pettis: 1
Michael Mosiman: 1
Chris Blose: 1
Michael Mosiman: 1
Cameron McAdoo: 1

250SX East
Chase Sexton: 9
Justin Cooper: 8
Austin Forkner: 6
Martin Davalos: 5
Jordon Smith: 3
Mitchell Oldenburg: 3
Alex Martin: 3
Brandon Hartranft: 2
Kyle Peters: 1

Next race: Lucas Oil Motocross Championship, May 18, Hangtown, Rancho Cordova, Calif.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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3-time NHRA champ Larry Dixon gives back to save lives on the streets

Photo courtesy Larry Dixon Racing
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Three-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon is a man on a new mission: to save lives on the streets and highways as perhaps the fastest driving instructor in the world.

Because he’s not currently hurtling down a dragstrip at 330 mph on the NHRA national tour, Dixon is at a point where it was time for him to give back and help youngsters the way so many individuals helped him in his own life and career.

Much like when he became the protege of mentor Don “Snake” Prudhomme – first as a crew member and then as Prudhomme’s hand-picked choice to replace him when he retired as a driver – Dixon is now imparting some of his vast knowledge behind the wheel upon thousands of impressionable teens and young adults around the country.

Dixon recently signed on as an instructor with fellow former Top Fuel champ Doug Herbert’s nationally renowned B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) driver safety training program. Since Herbert formed the free, non-profit program in 2008 to honor the memory of sons Jon and James, who were both killed in a tragic car crash, B.R.A.K.E.S. has trained over 35,000 students across the U.S. and five countries to be better and safer drivers.

MORE: Drag racer Doug Herbert turns son’s deaths into program that has helped over 35,000 teens

After putting two of his own teen children through Herbert’s program (with a third child to go through the program soon), Dixon was so impressed with the training that his kids received that he told his old buddy he wanted to become involved with B.R.A.K.E.S.

“I’ve known Doug since we were in high school,” Dixon told NBC Sports. “We both worked at a chain of speed shops in Southern California, Doug at one in Orange County and me at one in the San Fernando Valley in Van Nuys. We came up together racing Alcohol cars and Top Fuel cars kind of along the same lines. That’s how long I’ve known Doug.

Photo: Larry Dixon Racing

“I ran my son through the course a couple years ago when it came through Indianapolis (where Dixon and his family now live), and then my daughter signed up for a class a couple months ago, and that kind of got the talk going because I’m not on the (NHRA national event) tour now and I’ve got more time and the conversation just snowballed and here I am.

“I obviously believe in the deal if I ran my own kids through the system. The program is very methodical but still personal. When you put the kids in the car, you’ve got one instructor and three students, so they’re getting taught one-on-one almost.”

Even though he’s been driving for nearly 40 years, Dixon, 52, readily admits with a chuckle, “I’ve even learned things from the program already, which shows you’re never too old to learn.”

In a more serious vein, Dixon said from his perspective as both an instructor and a parent of two of the program’s graduates is how parents are so vital to the program’s impact.

“It’s mandatory that when you’re running a student through the program that at least one parent or guardian is also there, so the message you’re teaching the teens, you have to rely on the parent to not only be on the same page as what we’re teaching, but to also drive that message home for the rest of their lives.”

Dixon isn’t teaching students to drive 330 mph or to become aspiring drag racers. On the contrary. Dixon is right at home giving instructions on how students can avoid incidents or accidents on streets and highways at speeds typically between 30 and 50 mph.

“It’s more impactful as far as your legacy,” Dixon said of his motivation to teach. “Obviously, I’ve won a lot of races, but what I have to show for those wins are trophies but they’re in the basement, and if you don’t dust them, they get dusty.

“What I’m doing with B.R.A.K.E.S., you’re making a difference for people hopefully for the rest of their lives, and that’s bigger. I remember when I first got my own racing license. The first day I had my license, I was a race car driver but I wasn’t a great race car driver right away, I just had a license. It took a lot of years and a lot of runs and laps down the racetrack to be able to be good.

“It’s the same thing with a driver’s license. You go through the driver’s education course and such and they hand you your license, but that doesn’t make you a great driver. It takes a lot of road time to be able to get that experience. And the great thing about this course is you’re trying to ramp up that experience and put the teens in situations ahead of time so that when they’re in the real world, they’ll know how to react to them.

Larry Dixon is interviewed recently during his debut as a driving instructor for B.R.A.K.E.S. Photo courtesy B.R.A.K.E.S.

“These cars nowadays have so many safety features on them, but they don’t get taught. When you go through a basic driver’s education course, they don’t teach you that you can slam on the brakes and if you have an ABS (anti-lock) brake system, let alone how to use it, so that’s part of what we’re running the kids through. It lets them speed up and then slam on the brakes and feeling what ABS does and that a car isn’t going to spin out or flip over like you might see in a ‘Fast and Furious’ movie. Most people don’t know what you can do with a car and how great cars will take care of you as long as they use the tools you’re supplied with.”

Dixon has already taught three different classes in the last month, with five more sessions scheduled primarily in the Midwest in the coming months. You can immediately hear the passion and self-satisfaction he’s getting from being a teacher.

“I really do enjoy it,” Dixon said. “You get to see the difference you can make in someone’s lives. When you get them on a skid course and they’re learning how to get out of a spin or slide, they’re having fun but also learning a valuable lesson.

“After they’ve taken the course, they have a bounce in their step and know and understand cars better and have a good time doing it. That’s what Doug has done, out of his tragedy, he’s really making a difference in other people’s lives. We’re not trying to turn the kids into Mario Andretti or anything like that … just to be better and safer drivers.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski