NASCAR to mandate baseline concussion testing starting next year

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This morning, NASCAR announced that starting in 2014, the sanctioning body will mandate pre-season baseline concussion testing for all of its national series drivers.

The testing will be performed through the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) test, which focuses on evaluating verbal and visual memory, processing speed, and reaction time.

As this testing will take place before the season starts, doctors will be able to compare the baseline with post-concussion tests as they evaluate injuries and determine the proper time for a driver to return to racing.

“NASCAR made this decision because we think it is important to drivers’ health for doctors to have the best information and tools available in evaluating injuries,” NASCAR vice president of racing Steve O’Donnell said in a statement.

“Before announcing this rule, we provided drivers concussion and baseline testing education and created opportunities for them to ask any questions they may have to a top neurosurgeon that specializes in traumatic brain injuries. Also, remember that ImPACT tests are not new to our sport and have been used for treatment through the years.”

Indeed, the test is currently being used by many teams in the NFL, NHL, and Major League Baseball, as well as by thousands of high schools and colleges.

NASCAR says that it recommended baseline testing for its drivers at the start of the 2013 season with the indication that this particular mandate could take effect as soon as next year. Additionally, the sanctioning body has held a pair of “concussion education sessions” for drivers.

“We are extremely confident that our concussion protocol is among the best in sports,” O’Donnell continued. “We regularly review all of our practices involving safety and health to see if there is anything that we can do better, or should do differently moving forward.

“Implementing baseline testing is a primary example of our philosophy to protect our competitors the best that we can.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media
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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.