Chaves scores first Firestone Indy Lights win at Mid-Ohio

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Gabby Chaves took his first Firestone Indy Lights Series victory of the season and of his career from pole position, to move into title contention for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. It was a flag-to-flag victory but the Colombian had to work for it.

“Amazing, amazing feeling,” said Chaves. “Peter had the pace most of Saturday. I threw a fast one out on the last lap. It could have been different if I didn’t.”

A late-race caution for Giancarlo Serenelli stopped on track brought the field back together. On the restart, Chaves (pictured right, photo by INDYCAR) got enough of a jump to hold off Peter Dempsey. Dempsey, despite his effort, had to settle for second.

“I had to stay on defense, and I lost a lot on the tires after the restart,” Chaves explained.  “But within a lap or so we got back going.”

Dempsey agreed with the tire issues on the restart: “It was tricky because we had lost a lot of grip.”

Jack Hawksworth held off Carlos Munoz to third, after Munoz put in a dogged charge back through the field from an early race off course excursion.

Munoz dropped from fourth to 10th in the process. But from there, Munoz charged back through the field – which seems almost unfathomable at a track not known for a ton of passing and with a spec car. He rebounded to fourth and hounded Hawksworth for third, trying to pass him on either side but unable to complete the move.

Zach Veach finished fifth while Sage Karam, Munoz’s closest rival entering the race, finished a disappointing eighth.

Unofficially, Munoz leads Chaves by 15 points, with Karam, Hawksworth and Dempsey all in the top five. Just 43 points separates the top five with three races to go.

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.