Kimball leads IndyCar warmup at Barber

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Charlie Kimball topped this morning’s warm-up session for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) with a time of 1 minute, 9.0313 seconds around the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park layout. Kimball is aiming for his second career IZOD IndyCar Series podium and will start fifth on the grid this afternoon after cracking the Firestone Fast Six for the first time ever yesterday in qualifying.

Kimball was followed by fellow Honda-powered driver Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing), who finished P2 in the warm-up with a time of 1 minute, 9.1685 seconds. Tony Kanaan of KV Racing Technology led the Chevrolet camp this morning with the third-fastest lap (1 minute, 9.3080 seconds), with Scott Dixon (1 minute, 9.4123 seconds) and Simona de Silvestro (1 minute, 9.4301 seconds) completing the top five.

As for your front row for today’s 90-lap main event, defending series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and defending Barber champion Will Power were 18th and 19th-fastest respectively, with both drivers posting times in the 1:10 range (Hunter-Reay at 1:10.6615, Power at 1:10.6809).

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.