Happy birthday to open-wheel legend, Parnelli Jones

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We wish Parnelli Jones a happy 80th birthday today. It’s a banner year for the open-wheel legend, as 2013 marked the 50-year anniversary of his 1963 win at the Indianapolis 500. He was on hand as Ed Carpenter took the pole for this year’s 500.

Gentlemen who are older and more experienced than I am in racing – NBC Sports Network’s IndyCar insider and pit reporter Robin Miller and longtime IndyCar PR ace Steve Shunck come to mind off the top of my head – can probably offer better stories or words regarding some of Jones’ exploits on the track. Miller has said before if racing had a Mount Rushmore, you’d see “‘ol Rufus'” face on it.

Beyond being a great racer, he’s also served as a great ambassador for the sport over the years. Son P.J. raced in IndyCar off-and-on from 1996 through 2007, with a best finish of second at Nazareth Speedway in 1999.

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.