Ganassi changes name for Cup team, drops Earnhardt

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Bob Pockrass of The Sporting News has confirmed that the legendary Earnhardt name has been dropped by Chip Ganassi’s Sprint Cup operation – which has now reverted to the “Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates” name after a five-year run as Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates.

EGR was forged going into the 2009 season after the merger of Ganassi’s team and the former Dale Earnhardt Inc. squad, two teams that were struggling at the time to find sponsorship to fund their respective groups.

The combined team has primarily carried on as a two-car operation in Sprint Cup, and will maintain that this year with veteran Jamie McMurray and Cup rookie Kyle Larson.

“It’s been an honor to have the Earnhardt name affiliated with our team,” CGR president Steve Lauletta said Wednesday according to Pockrass. “Dale and Teresa have done a tremendous amount for the sport. She was visionary enough with us to do this partnership in the first place. We felt like it was a benefit…The goal of becoming a better race team partnered together, we think we did that.

“That’s a tribute to her wanting to do the right thing for her partners, her company and her employees. We have nothing but good things to say about the partnership.”

During the combined team’s tenure as EGR, it won the 2010 Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, both with McMurray at the wheel. However, it also endured a winless drought that lasted for three seasons until McMurray won this past fall at Talladega Superspeedway under caution.

Day-to-day operations of the No. 1 and No. 42 programs are expected to keep going along normally as Teresa Earnhardt, widow of seven-time Cup champ Dale Earnhardt Sr., has had little influence on that front. In addition, Lauletta told Pockrass that CGR would continue to maintain a business relationship with the DEI companies.

However, considering how much the Earnhardt name means to NASCAR fans, we can probably figure some of them won’t be happy with this decision – even if it shouldn’t really affect the team all that much.

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.