Johnson looks to continue plate dominance today at ‘Dega


Jimmie Johnson missed out on an opportunity to take the lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup last weekend at Charlotte, but today’s race at Talladega Superspeedway could be another chance for him to do just that.

The five-time Cup champion, who sits four points behind Matt Kenseth going into today’s Camping World RV Sales 500, has been the class of the field at restrictor plate tracks this season. In February, he made a late charge to win his second Daytona 500, then finished fifth at ‘Dega in the spring before adding another triumph at Daytona in July.

It’s a much different string of results than the ones he had at plate tracks last year; he crashed out of the two Daytona events, lost an engine in the spring race at ‘Dega, and finished 17th in the fall race there.

Today’s race also marks a critical point in the Chase. In the past, Johnson has maintained that the true championship contenders will become clear following ‘Dega, and this week, he repeated the sentiment.

“I hope this trend of top 5 finishes stays alive in Talladega,” Johnson said. “That’s what we’re going to need. After Talladega, at that point, you can really race individuals [in the Chase].

“I think up until Talladega, you’re still racing the field and anything can happen and anybody has a chance. But leaving Talladega, you can really narrow in on who is left and what that spread is in points.”

Plate racing may be known for its variability, but as the Chase contenders prepare to face their biggest challenge of the post-season, Johnson is becoming as close to bankable as you can get in this particular discipline. Let’s see if his luck holds today.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

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.