Toronto Friday news, notes, and Race 1 qualifying groups

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A few news and notes from around the paddock in Toronto:

  • Race Director Beaux Barfield (pictured) will not be in Toronto this weekend for personal reasons. INDYCAR Senior Vice President of Operations Brian Barnhart will serve as race director for the doubleheader IZOD IndyCar Series races July 13-14 at the Honda Indy Toronto. Barfield will resume his duties in Race Control at the next IZOD IndyCar Series event, the Honda Indy 200 on Aug. 2-4 at Mid-Ohio.
  • Additionally in the senior management domain, INDYCAR exec vp of corporate business development, Greg Gruning, has left his post and shifted to a technology company. A paywall story from Sports Business Daily is linked here with more, if you have access.
  • Per a RACER.com story by Marshall Pruett, Dragon Racing has released all but two of the crewmembers on Sebastian Saavedra’s No. 6 TRUECar Dragon Racing Chevrolet team.
  • James Jakes of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will serve a 10-spot grid penalty for Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader for an unapproved engine change after the last race at Pocono Raceway.
  • Besides Tristan Vautier, rookie of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Marco Andretti will be in a different livery this weekend. He’ll reprise the Dr Pepper colors he has raced here the last two years. Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan is back in the Hydroxycut livery for KV Racing Technology – SH after racing in three of the last four events with Sunoco / “Turbo” colors on his No. 11 Chevrolet.

Qualifying groups for Friday’s qualifying (5:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network) are listed below.

Group 1                Group 2
#67 Josef Newgarden       #1 Ryan Hunter-Reay
#55 Tristan Vautier (R)   #4 Ryan Briscoe
#12 Will Power            #25 Marco Andretti
#16 James Jakes           #11 Tony Kanaan
#7 Sebastien Bourdais     #10 Dario Franchitti
#9 Scott Dixon            #27 James Hinchcliffe
#98 Alex Tagliani       #19 Justin Wilson
#3 Helio Castroneves      #83 Charlie Kimball
#5 E.J. Viso              #15 Graham Rahal
#14 Takuma Sato           #6 Sebastian Saavedra
#77 Simon Pagenaud        #78 Simona de Silvestro
#20 Ed Carpenter          #18 Mike Conway

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.