John Force claims 16th NHRA Funny Car championship

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NHRA legend John Force earned his 16th Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car title in style today at the Toyota Nationals in Las Vegas, besting his daughter, Courtney Force, in the final round with a 4.06-second run (310.63 mph) to Courtney’s 4.08.

With the Vegas victory, John Force is now on a streak of three consecutive event wins going into next week’s season finale at Pomona, California. And after winning yet another Funny Car crown, the 64-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down.

“I felt 16 after I won, but I don’t want to end my career at 16 [championships],” he said according to Candida Benson of National Dragster. “I want to end it at 17 at least, so I’m going to be around for a while. You’re stuck with me because I truly do love it. The truth is if I ever had to win, this is a pretty good time to win because [sponsorship] deals need to be made next year, and I’ll be the champ while we’re making those deals.

“I love the job. I live in the gym. There ain’t nothing wrong with me. Nobody said you’ve got to quit racing. I’m going to keep doing it because it’s what I like to do.”

Also claiming an NHRA season title today in Vegas was Matt Smith, who claimed his second career Pro Stock Motorcycle championship with a final-round triumph over Jerry Savoie via a 6.991-second run (192.08 mph).

It also marked a pair of championships for the Smith family this fall, as Matt’s father, Rickie, claimed the NHRA Pro Mod Drag Racing Series title back in September.

Antron Brown and Shane Gray took top Vegas honors in Top Fuel and Pro Stock, respectively.

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.