IndyCar: Filippi top-five, Rahal pleased after Houston Friday

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The one returning driver to the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend, Italian Luca Filippi, ended fourth overall and third in second practice in his first day in an IndyCar since Houston last fall.

“It was a great day. I was obvi­ously very moti­vated but to finish in the top three (in the second prac­tice) is amazing,” he said after the session. “We have to keep our feet on the ground and work harder because it’s going to be a long weekend with two races but we have the oppor­tu­nity to do well obvi­ously. So we just have to do a clean job.

“At the moment I feel good with the car,” he added. “There are some things we can still improve to suit my driving style but my confi­dence is good and I feel very thankful to the team, to Bobby and every­body who is working with me to make this happen.”

Meanwhile Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal was within 0.3 of Filippi, albeit 10 spots lower on the combined practice charts of 14th. Considering he didn’t get a run on new tires in the No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda, he’s pleased with where he is.

“I think the National Guard car is very compet­i­tive and I think there is more time in it,” he admitted. “We didn’t get a run on new tires so we don’t really know its poten­tial but I think it’s prob­ably a top-five car at this point. I just have to keep working on myself and find a bit more speed. I think we’re learning; we’ve just got to keep going forward. I think we will have a pretty compet­i­tive car tomorrow.”

Rahal also praised the job done by event organizer Mike Lanigan for resurfacing of the front straight, which while still bumpy, was an improvement on last year’s circuit.

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.