Report: National Guard’s NASCAR program barely nets any new recruits

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The National Guard’s racing sponsorships were in the news earlier this year, mainly in the Verizon IndyCar Series ranks where it transferred from Panther Racing to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

But on the NASCAR side, where more dollars are spent annually and the sponsorship is higher profile with Dale Earnhardt Jr., it hasn’t necessarily generated the best return.

In a USA Today report released Wednesday, the 2012 season saw the Guard spend $26.5 million but did not sign a single new recruit. The same report said a total of $88 million has been spent over the last three years from 2011 to 2013, but couldn’t determine a number of prospects or recruits.

While the exposure remains – the report said 90 percent who enlisted or re-enlisted from 2007 to 2013 indicated that they had been exposed to information about the service through NASCAR-related recruiting and retention materials, per a National Guard spokesman – the deliverables of new signups appear to be lacking.

It’s an interesting situation, and one too where Hendrick Motorsports is working hard to cover its bases in terms of putting together other sponsorships. Nationwide Insurance was announced last week as a new primary sponsor for at least 12 Sprint Cup races for Dale Jr. starting in 2015; Mtn Dew, Kelley Blue Book and others also enjoy a prominent role with the 88 car.

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.