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Eli Tomac, Dylan Ferrandis perfect in Washougal wins

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With Round 9 in the books, Eli Tomac continues to pad his points lead. Finishing perfectly with a 1-1, he took the overall win. More importantly he gained points on second-place Marvin Musquin at Washougal MX Park.

As has often been the case this season, Tomac had to overcome a poor start. In Moto 2, he ended the first lap well outside the top 10, but mounted a charge to pass Ken Roczen with seven minutes remaining. He got around Musquin quickly after.

In Moto 1, Tomac battled back from outside the top five and moved up steadily throughout the race. He was eight seconds back when he moved into the runner-up position and set his sights on then-leader Roczen.

Tomac showed just how dangerous he is with three laps to go in Moto 1. The rider of the No. 1 was right beside Roczen and about the make the pass when he tipped over – seemingly handing the win back to Roczen. Tomac stood his bike back up and caught Roczen within a single lap. An aggressive inside move on the last lap that gave him the Moto 1 win.

Tomac has now finished second or better in every Washougal moto during the past four years.

“On the bike it was perfection,” Tomac said on NBC Gold after the race. “Except for the starts. The second moto there, it was pretty much mistake free.”

Finishing second overall, Roczen seemed to have a comfortable advantage until Tomac put him in his sights during Moto 1. With very little chance of winning the championship, Roczen nevertheless needs consistently strong runs. Finishing 2-3 and second overall was not the result Roczen wanted, but it was a moral victory.

“For me it’s important not to leave anything on the table…I’m going to gather myself for the second one and try my best again,” Ken Roczen said after losing the lead in Moto 1 on the final lap.

Marvin Musquin, who has finished second to Tomac in the last two seasons championship battles, needed to make up 9.5 points per race in the final four rounds; he lost 12 instead. Musquin finished third overall with his 5-2.

“I feel sorry for the team for that first moto,” Musquin said. “I couldn’t get around for third-place and then got frustrated and lost some positions…I came back the second moto with a better start, better riding and a better feeling on the bike.”

Cooper Webb (3-6) and Jason Anderson (4-5) rounded out the top five – pending a final judgment. A pass by Anderson on Joey Savatgy is under review.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

In 250s, the battle for the championship took center stage.

In the Moto 2, Dylan Ferrandis and Adam Cianciarulo were never more than two seconds apart from one other from start to finish, but in the end it was Ferrandis who took the moto win. Every point matters at this stage of the season and with a 1-1, Ferrandis scored the overall win and earned the maximum number of points.

While Cianciarulo had Ferrandis in sight the entire race, the battle really heated up with seven minutes remaining on the clock. That’s when Cianciarulo got on Ferrandis’ back tire and started seriously challenging for the lead change. As soon as he caught him, however, Cianciarulo landed slightly off center and lost just a little momentum. That allowed Ferrandis to get some breathing room and gird himself for the final three laps.

Cianicarulo entered the round with a 36-point advantage and four rounds remaining. Ferrandis needed to make up nine points per race. At Washougal, he made up eight, but served notice that he is not going to go gently into the good night.

“It was crazy,” Ferrandis said on NBC Sports Gold after the race. “We got a really good start and I’m really happy to get two good starts – I gave everything on the second corner to take the lead. (Cianciarulo) was there already and I was like, ‘now we’re going to see who’s the best.’

“I gave everything I had. I wasn’t at my limit, but I was really close and I think him too.”

The difference actually came in the first moto. At the 14-minute mark, Cianciarulo laid his bike down, but quickly got back on the seat. It was enough to keep him from challenging for second in the moto. Finishing third in that race allowed Ferrandis to gain a couple of extra points that could become critical in the final round.

Cianciarulo finished second overall with a 3-2.

Last week Cianciarulo earned points on Ferrandis in both motos; this week Ferrandis returned the favor.

“You’re conscious of points, obviously, but at the end we’re all just racers,” Cianciarulo said. “Especially after winning a lot this year. It’s what I think about when I go to sleep. It’s what I think about when I wake up. I crave it. I want it so bad.”

Cianciarulo was right on top of Ferrandis with seven minutes remaining on the clock. On that lap, he landed just a little sideways and lost some momentum.

Justin Cooper took the final spot on the podium with a 2-4.

Michael Mosiman (7-3) and Chase Sexton (4-6) rounded out the top five.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[8] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch II, RedBud I, Washougal I & II)
[3] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II)
[3] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, The Wick I, RedBud II)
[2] Cooper Webb (Spring Creek I & II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (The Wick II)

250MX
[6] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II, The Wick I, Spring Creek II)
[6] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, The Wick II, RedBud I & II, Washougal I & II)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[2] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I, Spring Creek I)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

Next race: Unadilla MX, New Berlin, NY., August 10

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