Allmendinger captures elusive Nationwide win at Road America

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Despite several green-white-checkered attempts to throw him off his game, AJ Allmendinger would not be denied an elusive first victory in NASCAR. Allmendinger repaid the faith of team boss Roger Penske with a win from pole in the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ Johnsonville Sausage 200 at Elkhart Lake’s Road America.

Allmendinger held off Turner Scott Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie Parker Kligerman on the race that took two extra GWCs to finish. It ran 55 laps instead of the scheduled 50; Allmendinger led 29 laps of the 4.048-mile circuit.

Owen Kelly and Sam Hornish Jr. each had fraught days and fell back outside the top-25, yet when all was said and done ended fourth and fifth. Unofficially, Hornish clawed back 28 points of his deficit of 58 to series leader Regan Smith, who finished 33rd.

A typical Road America NASCAR edition, then, if ever there was one – methodical and fast-paced the first 35 or so laps, before all hell broke loose in the last 15-plus.

There were only three cautions in the first 33 laps and in the last 22, there were five more via a collection of spins, off-course excursions and occasional fisticuffs.

Several drivers didn’t have results to maximize their runs. Among them, Billy Johnson of Roush Fenway Racing had a storming drive from the mid-30s after a pit road speeding penalty all the way back to the lead, before two incidents sent him to the back.

Johnson fell from the lead with 10 laps to go prior to the scheduled checkered flag outside the top-20 after an accordion effect incident at Turn 5, where he slipped into the gravel and had to drive out. Earlier in the race, Johnson made contact with Max Papis, and after the race the Italian reacted by slapping Johnson with his helmet still on.

Nationwide Series debutante and defending Pirelli World Challenge GT class champion Johnny O’Connell brought the No. 5 JR Motorsports Chevrolet home in 12th.

The Nationwide Series is back on a Sprint Cup weekend next weekend in Kentucky.

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.