Engine failure ends promising first Cup run for Kyle Larson

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Heralded young gun Kyle Larson acquitted himself well in his first-ever Sprint Cup race last night at Charlotte Motor Speedway before an engine failure knocked him out late and relegated him to a 37th-place result.

Larson, who will take over the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet full-time next season, started 21st in the No. 51 Target Chevy but was able to move up and settle into the Top 15 in the race’s first half. However, Larson’s motor dropped a cylinder with about 100 laps to go and forced the dirt-track phenom to try and limp the car home before it finally let go on Lap 247.

Nonetheless, it was still a good debut in Larson’s eyes. Learning was the top priority for the 21-year-old and it appears that he did just that.

“It’s a little similar to the Nationwide [Series] car, but the track changed a lot more,” Larson told David Scott of The Charlotte Observer. “It moved around a lot more. Some runs were loose and free, some were tight. I learned a lot about driving in the dirty air.”

Larson wasn’t the only one making his Cup debut last night. Richard Childress Racing Nationwide driver Brian Scott turned in a 27th-place result, four laps off the pace of winner Brad Keselowski. Also debuting was Blake Koch, whose night was cut short on Lap 216 due to a vibration on his car; he finished 38th.

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.