More Fontana success in the cards for Kenseth?

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With plenty of success on both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide side at Auto Club Speedway, Matt Kenseth looks set to have a say in the outcome of tomorrow’s Auto Club 400.

Kenseth has earned three Cup victories in his career on the two-mile oval and four more in Nationwide in his former life as a Roush Fenway Racing driver.

Furthermore, he’s earned 14 Cup Top-10s and is high up in several important categories pertaining to Fontana, such as average running position (9.4, third-best among active drivers) and laps in the Top 15 (2,860 laps, second-best among active drivers).

After seven Cup wins last season, Kenseth has not been able to find Victory Lane yet in 2014. But he’s been steady enough to run eighth in the championship so far, and he could certainly put himself into the Chase tomorrow.

Here are a few more contenders to watch for…

JIMMIE JOHNSON (starting third)
Johnson has won five times at Fontana, and has maintained that he’s not feeling the pressure to put himself in the Chase with a win this weekend. He’s had good pace throughout the weekend, including P3 in final practice.

CLINT BOWYER/BRIAN VICKERS (starting fifth and 19th respectively)
Both Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Brian Vickers have shown speed during the weekend, with Bowyer logging two Top-10 efforts in practice and Brian Vickers topping Happy Hour.

JEFF GORDON (starting sixth)
A three-time winner at Fontana, Gordon has been solid through the weekend as the runner-up in all three of the practice sessions. We’ve talked about his teammate Johnson possibly becoming the fifth different winner of the season in as many races. But we definitely have to keep Gordon in mind as well.

DALE EARNHARDT JR. (starting 15th)
Junior has never won at Fontana, but it looks sounds like he’s got something this weekend (fourth in first practice, fifth in final practice). Said NASCAR’s most popular driver on Twitter:

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.