Sadler set for first extended Cup opportunity in three years as MWR fill-in

0 Comments

Elliott Sadler takes over the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota for the final four races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season starting this weekend in Martinsville.

It’s a temporary fill-in role for Brian Vickers due to Vickers’ latest health issue, but it could also serve as an audition for Sadler to possibly return to Cup after a journey back to the Nationwide ranks.

Sadler has started only one Cup race this year (finished 24th at Kansas in April in a fourth Joe Gibbs Toyota) and one in 2012 (10th in a fourth Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at the Daytona 500). So he’s been off the Cup radar for the better part of three years as teams have looked elsewhere to fill vacancies.

What Vickers has accomplished in his own road back to Cup has seriously impressed the Emporia, Va. native.

“How Brian is handling all of this; I’ll be honest with you – I’m not sure I could do this,” Sadler said in a team release heading into the weekend. “The way he handled it last time and fought back, working his way back through the ranks and getting himself a fulltime ride with Michael Waltrip Racing was amazing. For him to have this setback again is really hard to watch. It is tough to see a friend go through what he is going through. I’m just there to fill in these last four races and get these guys to the end of the year.”

Sadler did speak highly of the MWR/Joe Gibbs Racing relationship, which has played a major role in Sadler being picked to fill his Nationwide teammate’s seat.

“The relationship between MWR and Joe Gibbs Racing was already really close,” Sadler said. “When I called (JGR President) J.D. (Gibbs) and asked about it he said ‘Man, that’s great for you, a wonderful opportunity, we’ll do all we can to help MWR.’ It’s pretty neat how close these guys all try to work together and help each other out. It wasn’t a really big hard decision to make. The guys worked it out pretty well.”

Sadler’s last Cup start at Martinsville came in the fall of 2010, when he finished 28th driving a Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. In 24 prior Martinsville starts, Sadler has a best finish of fifth (spring, 2003) and two other top-10 finishes.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media
0 Comments

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.