Toyota sets out to stop Sprint Cup engine woes

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Horsepower hasn’t been the problem for Toyota’s engines this season in the Sprint Cup series. Neither is a lack of wins – Toyota Racing Development motors have earned five of them this season, all coming from the Joe Gibbs Racing camp.

But durability has definitely been an issue for TRD, which has had to deal with multiple engine failures along the way. That’s frustrating enough, but then you have to consider some of the times when those motors have blown up. In the season-opening Daytona 500, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch were fighting for the lead when they lost their engines within minutes of each other. Then, last weekend at Dover, TRD failures stopped strong runs to the front for both Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr (pictured).

With another tough test on engines coming up tomorrow at Pocono Raceway, TRD met with its two main teams, JGR and Michael Waltrip Racing, on Friday to discuss what the group is planning to do in order to create more durable motors.

New TRD acting president and general manager David Wilson admitted to the Associated Press that their motors will take “a little bit of a step back in performance” as part of the process, but also feels that TRD’s multiple wins this year is proof that they can get a handle on things.

“I’d much rather be in this position of saying, ‘We’ve got the performance, now we need to focus on the durability,”‘ he told the AP. “We’ve got a little bit of security with a couple of our drivers having notched a couple of wins.”

One of the TRD-powered drivers, JGR’s Denny Hamlin, said that he was disappointed about the changes but felt that they were ultimately necessary.

“Obviously, they want their first championship, so they’re going to do everything they can to get that,” Hamlin said at Pocono. “I feel like in the off-season, they obviously took a great step forward in power — it showed up on the race track the first 13 weeks and with some issues, now we have to dial it back some and see what the payoff is from power to reliability.

“Because ultimately, with this points system, you have to finish these races and that’s what all the teams identify.”

Three TRD-powered drivers – Clint Bowyer, Kenseth and Kyle Busch – are currently in the Top 10 of the Cup standings.

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.