Can Kyle Busch snap his Kansas skid?

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It’s probably a safe assumption that the Oct. 20 race at the 2.66-mile crapshoot that is Talladega Superspeedway is the one race that all of the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders have circled on their calendars in red ink.

But one wouldn’t blame Kyle Busch if he also circled this weekend’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. His struggles on the 1.5-mile oval have been well-documented – two Top-10s in 12 career races and seven finishes outside the Top 20.

However, Busch believes that he’s due for a change in luck, especially after taking part in a tire test at Kansas back in July that he feels will prove beneficial to him.

“We felt like with the un-success we’ve had the last couple times being there since the repave, the tire combination we had – it was just really, really hard for me to get a feel for the tire and the racetrack that I was looking for,” Busch explained on Friday.

“We could run fast laps, post quick times in practice and qualifying. But just, in the race, when you get in traffic, everything starts changing, the rubber starts going down, it would throw us for a little bit of a curve.

“This time around, getting the tire test done, getting some information with the car, getting me more suited to the racetrack with a different tire combination, we felt like it was a positive for us. Certainly, we hope those results will be indicative of how we run this weekend and we can have a better go of it.”

As for the championship, Busch slipped back to third in points last week at Dover behind both teammate/Chase leader Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. Perhaps in another season, Busch’s Chase results of two seconds and a fifth would have him head and shoulders above his rivals.

But that’s not been the case thanks to how competitive Kenseth (two wins and a seventh) and Johnson (a fifth, a fourth, and the win at Dover) have been. Still, Busch knows it isn’t time to worry over what more he could possibly do.

“It’s a matter of continuing to knock out these Top-5s right now, and when our wins come to us, hopefully they do, those will be the bonus points and those will be the extra points we need to get ourselves further up the ladder,” he said.

“Whether those guys finish second, third or further back, us winning races is what’s going to get us most points.  That’s what it comes down to. Right now, it’s not make-it-or-break-it time [but] it’s certainly the time to keep getting solid finishes and keep doing solid runs throughout the races in order to get ourselves down into Texas, Phoenix, Homestead.”

Busch qualified 18th this afternoon for Sunday’s 400-miler.

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.