Indiana native Newman “emotional” after pole run at Indy

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South Bend, Indiana native and Purdue University graduate Ryan Newman was thrilled to make his own bit of history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this afternoon by winning the pole for tomorrow’s Brickyard 400.

Newman earned tremendous cheers from his home fans after he knocked Jimmie Johnson off the top spot in the final qualifying attempt of the day. His lap of 187.531 miles per hour also enabled him to claim the NASCAR qualifying record at Indy.

“I got emotional on the backstretch when they told me [that I had the pole],” Newman said in a post-race press conference. “It’s special to me because it’s Indiana, but it’s even more special because it’s the Brickyard and the history of auto racing at this facility. So many drivers who were my heroes, so many drivers that I’ve admired, so many drivers that have worked so hard in their career to get to here – and on this day, to be the fastest one, that is what’s special.”

“…My parents still have a house in South Bend, so I still have the Indiana roots. That didn’t make me any faster today, but it makes it more gratifying to win the pole.”

The pole was the 50th of Newman’s Sprint Cup career and made him the ninth driver in series history to reach that mark, joining Richard Petty (123 career poles), David Pearson (113), Jeff Gordon (72), Cale Yarborough (69), Darrell Waltrip (59), Bobby Allison (58), Mark Martin (56), and Bill Elliott (55).

But there’s still 400 miles to contend with tomorrow, and Newman is expecting to see track position remain the most important element at Indy even with the quickness of the new Generation 6 cars.

“It’s always going to be a track position race,” Newman said. “The flatter the track is and the faster we go, as far as the aerodynamics and the way the drafting works, you really can’t make up in the draft what you lose in downforce in the corners.

“The track position is going to be key and because we’re faster than we’ve ever have [been], I say it’s gonna be more important than it ever has been.”

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.