Hildebrand helps Pagenaud learn art of the first pitch (VIDEO)

1 Comment

Following the completion of Bump Day today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 field will fan out across North America to promote next weekend’s big race.

You can expect to see a few of the big-name drivers make their way across morning television shows and major newspapers in the next couple of days. But the driver with perhaps the neatest perk in all of this is Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud, who will be throwing out the first pitch in Milwaukee as the Brewers host the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park.

Ceremonial first pitches can be a tricky business, of course. Getting the ball over the plate would seem simple enough, but it’s not when you have tens of thousands of people watching you. And you certainly can’t chuck it into the dirt and make yourself look bad.

Luckily for the Frenchman, he was able to get a lesson from Panther Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand (pictured) — who recently threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game while on promotion duties for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park (the next race following the “500”).

Long before he stepped into the cockpit of the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet, Hildebrand — who is well-known for his allegiance to the San Francisco Giants — played varsity baseball in his high school years out in California, so he knows a thing or two about the grand old game. Check out the video above to see him give some baseball wisdom to IndyCar’s reigning rookie of the year.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media
0 Comments

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.