Vickers: On-track cooldown laps “most dangerous thing I’ve ever done”

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Last week at Phoenix, multiple drivers such as Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano lobbied NASCAR to allow teams to use cool-down units for their cars on pit road during qualifying instead of having to run slow laps on the track to cool the engines.

NASCAR has maintained that the cool-down units are not allowed in the pits because they didn’t want teams to make illegal adjustments after they popped the hoods of their cars.

Brian Vickers, who was the fastest in today’s first round of qualifying before going on to a ninth-place starting position for Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, was particularly worried after having to run slow laps in Round 1 to cool the motor on his No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

“Riding around the bottom – and we have to do it, it’s the only way we can keep the engine cool without a cool-down unit – but that has got to be the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in racing,” Vickers told Fox Sports leading into Round 2.

“The 36 [Reed Sorenson] went by me at 170 miles per hour faster that I was going. Had he slipped or hit me – I mean, I’d be done. It’d be so bad.

“I know we’re working on it together. I think it’s a really exciting qualifying for the fans and I’m pumped about that, but we really shouldn’t be riding around at 20 miles per hour with [other] cars going 190.”

After claiming the pole for Sunday’s main event, Logano again talked about the situation with an added emphasis on next week’s race on the high-banked half-mile of Bristol Motor Speedway.

“Next weekend is going to be crazy,” Logano said. “This weekend, at least we have the apron so we can run the apron all the way around to cool off so that’s good. But next weekend, we really don’t.

“You have a half-mile race track and you’re gonna have all these cars out there at the same time. You’re gonna have 50 cars out there next week. On a half-mile race track, that’s going to be tight.”

He then made another push for teams to use the cool-down units.

“…What we’ve suggested is maybe running the cool-down hookups to the hood flap so we can plug it in right there,” he said. “They don’t want us to lift up the hood obviously, so if we can just cool them down like that, then everyone could make more runs.

“That would obviously give the fans more time to watch cars making their speed laps and not cooldown laps trying to cool your motor down.”

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.