Kenseth: Qualifying should be more “patient” with new rules

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With new rules in effect that ban cool-down laps during qualifying, Matt Kenseth is looking forward to a less stressful knockout session this afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Earlier this week, NASCAR enacted changes to their new qualifying format that also allowed teams to use cool-down units on pit road. The changes came in the nick of time, as the tight half-mile of Bristol Motor Speedway would’ve afforded little room for drivers to run slow laps in order to cool their engines.

“…I think it’s going to look more like a normal qualifying session except there will be more cars out there,” Kenseth said this morning before practice according to USA Today’s Nate Ryan.

“Everybody should be able to be more patient and pick and choose your time when you want to get rolling. Be able to wait for a clean lap and go.”

Kenseth, who won last August over Kasey Kahne at Bristol, was one of multiple drivers to tag the wall in what was a treacherous practice session on the high-banked oval.

However, he did not have to go to a backup car like four others had to: Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle.

This morning, he noted the importance of keeping on top of the track conditions at this challenging course in addition to working in confined quarters.

“It definitely changes a lot during the weekend,” Kenseth added per Ryan. “I think the track is going to be drastically different here in a little while, and it probably will again in qualifying later this afternoon, and it will be in the race again. You always have to pay attention to that.”

The former Cup champion has been relatively strong in recent years at Bristol with a win, four Top-5s and seven Top-10s in his last nine visits to Thunder Valley.

He’s also led in each of his last five Bristol races for a total of 414 laps – the most of any driver in that span.

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.