NASCAR Trucks champ Crafton “disappointed” with tandem drafting ban

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NASCAR’s decision to ban tandem drafting across both the Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series isn’t sitting well with the latter series’ reigning champion.

During today’s CWTS Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona, Thorsport Racing’s Matt Crafton admitted that he was “disappointed” in the move to outlaw the tandem, saying that it enables drivers to “get away from people” on the track.

“But now you’re going to have those packs of 20 trucks,” Crafton said. “It’s going to be crazy to watch, but I think that now you’re going to be able to bump draft, and that’s one of the harder things to do is trying to judge it – ‘Is that guy getting into the corner?'”

“Because when you’re sitting behind somebody, you’re going to hit him and you can’t really judge when you hit them. Because if you’re getting close to them, you can’t judge when you’re getting ready to go in the corner, and if you do hit somebody, it might just start turning the wheel left to go into the corner and you’re going to cause a big wreck.”

In addition to tandem drafting now being outlawed, Crafton and the rest of the CWTS drivers are having to get used to a new body style on their Chevrolet Silverados, Ford F-150s, and Toyota Tundras (the truck that Crafton himself races).

In a nod to the Sprint Cup Generation 6 machines, the new trucks are meant to carry a better resemblance to their street-faring counterparts. Crafton had high praise for his revamped truck in how it raced by itself, but had yet to sample it in a drafting situation.

As for the big picture, Crafton believes that with everybody in the same boat, attaining even a small edge in getting speed out of the new trucks will make a big difference.

“It’s just that way every year, but now that we have the new trucks, it’s going to be ‑ I mean, getting in the wind tunnel, going to test at places we’re going to race, and whoever can get that little step ahead is going to be the team to beat without a doubt,” he said.

“We’ve worked really hard and been paying attention to the wind tunnel stuff and trying to figure out what this thing wants compared to what the [previous] Toyota Tundra wanted.”

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.