With the intense spotlight of Indianapolis over, for Carlos Munoz, Peter Dempsey and the rest of the Firestone Indy Lights Series, it’s back to a sense of normalcy this weekend at The Milwaukee Mile.
Indy Lights did not make the trip to Detroit or Texas in the last two weeks, and unlike its IZOD IndyCar Series brethren, crews will have actually had time to rest up and prep the cars from the low downforce setup at Indy to the high downforce one at Milwaukee for this week’s 100-lap race.
Munoz makes his first race appearance since his exceptional IndyCar debut in the 500, when he ran in and around the top five all day, eventually finishing second under yellow to Tony Kanaan.
That actually bettered his “day job” result, since he was only fourth at the flag in the simply epic finish to the Lights’ Firestone Freedom 100 – which Dempsey won right at the yard of bricks.
Although Dempsey is in his third year of Lights competition, he’ll be racing at Milwaukee for the first time in a Lights car. In 2011, his team withdrew after qualifying, alleging there was cheating done by another team. Last year, he missed Milwaukee after parting ways with another team.
Munoz finished fifth in last year’s Milwaukee Indy Lights race. He enters this Saturday’s race (3 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) 27 points clear of Dempsey. Only eight points separates Dempsey in second, Gabby Chaves in third, Sage Karam in fourth and Jack Hawksworth in fifth.
The field is likely to return back to single-digit entries after back-to-back races in double-digits.
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.