Casey Mears, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards fastest in Sprint Cup Happy Hour at Bristol

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Casey Mears was the fastest in Saturday’s final practice for Sunday’s Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Mears drove his Geico Chevrolet 40 laps around Bristol’s .533-mile high-banked layout, with a best speed of 125.906 mph.

Matt Kenseth was second-fastest in the Happy Hour episode at 125.815 mph, followed by Carl Edwards (125.683), Las Vegas winner and Sunday’s outside pole-sitter Brad Keselowski (125.486) and five-time Bristol winner Kurt Busch (125.469).

Thirteen drivers eclipsed the 125 mph mark.

Current Sprint Cup points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eighth-fastest (125.387), while Sunday’s pole sitter, Denny Hamlin, was 16th-astest (124.930).

Late in the session, Landon Cassill hit the wall hard, sustaining heavy damage to his No. 40 Chevrolet. If his team is unable to repair the damage before Sunday’s race, Cassill would likely be forced to start from the rear of the field in a back-up car.

Here’s Saturday’s Happy Hour speeds:

1 Casey Mears 125.906 mph

2 Matt Kenseth 125.815

3 Carl Edwards 125.683

4 Brad Keselowski 125.486

5 Kurt Busch 125.469

6 Martin Truex Jr. 125.412

7 Paul Menard 125.404

8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 125.387

9 Kevin Harvick 125.363

10 Jimmie Johnson 125.199

11 Marcos Ambrose 125.117

12 Justin Allgaier 125.093

13 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 125.068

14 Ryan Newman 124.995

15 Jeff Gordon 124.995

16 Denny Hamlin 124.930

17 Tony Stewart 124.906

18 Joey Logano 124.784

19 Kasey Kahne 124.695

20 Kyle Busch 124.622

21 Aric Almirola 124.565

22 Greg Biffle 124.517

23 Austin Dillon 124.508

24 Jamie McMurray 124.291

25 David Gilliland 124.178

26 Kyle Larson 124.178

27 David Ragan 124.114

28 Brian Vickers 124.066

29 AJ Allmendinger 124.018

30 Clint Bowyer 123.970

31 Landon Cassill 123.937

32 Travis Kvapil 123.435

33 Alex Bowman 123.269

34 Danica Patrick 123.190

35 Parker Kligerman 123.126

36 Josh Wise 123.079

37 Cole Whitt 123.024

38 Timmy Hill 122.537

39 Michael McDowell 122.505

40 Michael Annett

41 Ryan Truex 122.333

42 Reed Sorenson 122.185

43 Joe Nemechek 121.167

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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.