Supercross: Legendary trainer Aldon Baker prepares to shift focus

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In a typical year, riders put a lot of thought into the transition from supercross to motocross. This season is anything but typical. Everyone is still struggling to decide the best way to prepare for what essentially has been two off seasons.

Ralph Sheehen and Ricky Carmichael caught up with legendary trainer Aldon Baker to get his insight into the unique challenges faced in 2020. Baker is partially responsible for nearly 30 combined 450 supercross and motocross championships.

The full interview can be viewed by watching the video above.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 break, Baker was forced to shut down the riding part of his training.

Partly this was to keep the riders safe. A trip to the hospital for a broken bone might prove catastrophic. But also to keep from stressing a supply chain that stretched to Europe for the KTM and Husqvarna brands. At the time, Europe was the frontline in a shifting battle against the illness.

Usually, the plan is to peak one week before the supercross season begins and maintain that conditioning through May.

“We almost had to go back into a holiday period, but also not lose a certain amount of fitness and then figure out when are we actually going racing,” Baker told NBC Sports.

At the moment, riders are eight weeks away from a return to racing. If the latest schedule remains in place. Everyone who has been waiting through this break knows just how big that if can be. But there is plenty of time for Baker to put his plan into motion and execute it.

The riders are well-conditioned athletes who are doing a variety of things to stay in shape during the break. Physical conditioning will not be an issue.

Baker is much more concerned with their mindset once racing resumes.

“I want the guys to obviously be fresh mentally going into the racing,” Baker said. “Because now we are going to have a very limited offseason (between motocross and supercross) and then go back into it. As a trainer, I’ve got to look at each guy’s individual mentality and their experience. How are they going to cope with it and what are we going to do to still be ready to go racing and be in good fitness and good on the bike, but not be mentally fried by the time we get back to supercross.”

There could be hidden positives in the break. One of his riders, Marvin Musquin is recuperating from an injury during the offseason. Cooper Webb is 29 points out of first in the supercross standings and can use this time to reset for a seven-race charge on Eli Tomac and Ken Roczen once that series returns to action.

And then, there are the intangibles. Those silver linings everyone looks for around every dark cloud.

“We actually get a period now where we can work on the things that are tough to work on when you’re under the gun, like technique, not using rear brake or no clutch,” Baker said. “Stuff like that when you’re in the middle of the season and you’re trying to maintain and keep up intensity, that’s a little tough to do. So I’ve got to get creative about not only how I maintain a certain level, but get the guys mentally (focused) on riding.”

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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.