Kanaan shifts to Chris Simmons-engineered No. 10 at today’s IndyCar test

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The trophy side of Tony Kanaan’s week is out of the way, and today restarts the business side of things for the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Kanaan is one of 11 IndyCar drivers set to test today at Sebring, 10 of whom are on hand for a Chevrolet manufacturer’s test. The others: his three CGR teammates Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Charlie Kimball; the trio of Penske drivers Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Will Power; Ed Carpenter’s Mike Conway; KVSH’s Sebastien Bourdais and Panther’s Carlos Huertas. A.J. Foyt’s Takuma Sato is the only Honda driver listed.

When Kanaan tested with CGR in December, he was still in the No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet before the confirmation of Briscoe to that car, and Kanaan’s switch to the No. 10 Target car. That makes today the first time he’s officially testing with his 2014 engineer Chris Simmons, rather than longtime engineer Eric Cowdin.

But as TK explained Wednesday night, they already feel up to speed.

“In 2003, Chris was my second engineer (at Andretti Green Racing), so it was me, Eric and Chris,” Kanaan said. “I’ve known him for a while – we raced Indy Lights against each other in 96/97. I have not worked with him on IndyCar side, but in the DP race, he’s the engineer on the 02 car (at Daytona).

“That makes it a lot easier. Eric has worked with Ryan before. It’s all there, the confidence is there, and we know each other. There’s no adapting issues; it’s just more me getting used to the setup.”

And next week Kanaan, Dixon, Kyle Larson and Marino Franchitti will share one of the CGR Ford EcoBoost Riley Daytona Prototypes in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Kanaan raced in a GT class Porsche last year, co-driving with longtime friend Rubens Barrichello, and welcomes the return to a prototype this time around.

“It will definitely be different … but if I had to choose, I’d rather be in the DP,” he said. “I was getting passed every three corners last year. I’d rather pass. It’s easier when you have a more powerful car to make the pass, so you don’t have to stay out of the way.

“We’re in a good spot as a team having won 5 of the last 8 there. There’s a lot of new things we introduced to the team, chassis, engine, everything. We’re very capable and just need to make it last.”

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.