Looking purely at the end results from the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Houston races of 11th and 16th for Graham Rahal, and a pair of failures to finish for Luca Filippi, it would be easy to say Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing struggled in the streets that surround NRG Park.
It really couldn’t be further from the truth.
Filippi starred in practice and qualifying, ultimately making his first Firestone Fast Six on Saturday morning. Meanwhile despite a stall in Race 1, Rahal drove back from 23rd to fourth in the mixed wet and drying conditions before his second-to-last lap contact with Tony Kanaan before Turn 10.
Sunday, too, Rahal seemed poised for a podium finish before ECU and gearbox issues struck him in the first 35 laps. He had easily his best starting position of the year after qualifying fourth.
Back to just the single No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda for Pocono this weekend, Rahal will run a camouflage National Guard livery. Perhaps it will be the good luck charm the team needs for an untroubled weekend filled with both a good qualifying and good race result.
“I love the current red, white and blue livery but it’s great to have a special one for the Fourth of July weekend,” Rahal said in a team release. “The camouflage is really a cool touch and I hope it connects with the men and women of the National Guard that we are honored to represent. As an American, racing on this particular weekend is very special and I think the car will look great on track!”
Rahal looks to improve upon his 16th place start and 18th place finish at Pocono last year.
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.