Rain cuts Nationwide quals short; Armstrong on pole tonight

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UPDATE (4:10 p.m. ET): A second shower at Daytona International Speedway has forced NASCAR to cancel the remainder of Nationwide Series qualifying for tonight’s Subway Firecracker 250.

As a result, Richard Petty Motorsports’ Dakoda Armstrong has earned his first career Nationwide Series pole. Trevor Bayne will join him on the front row.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the first round of qualifying, a sudden cloudburst over the midway point of the backstretch caused a cluster of cars to spin out and wreck. The incident brought out a red flag.

The drivers involved include: Matt Dibenedetto, Ross Chastain, Scott Lagasse Jr., Blake Koch, Benny Gordon, Robert Richardson, Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek, and Eric McClure.

“I don’t know if there’s any words to properly describe it,” McClure told Fox Sports afterwards.

“We had no idea it was raining. The spotter caught it right as we came off Turn 2 and saw it. I’m a little disappointed that with all the technology we have and the spotters around the race track that a caution wasn’t thrown. But that’s not my call to make.”

NASCAR promptly declared Round 1 complete and with the onset of more rain, they’ve set the field for tonight’s race based off the results from Round 1.

Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed will start in Row 2, followed by Kyle Busch and Nationwide points leader Elliott Sadler in Row 3. Chase Elliott and Regan Smith are in Row 4, while Darrell “Bubba” Wallace and Kyle Larson roll off from Row 5.

Three of the drivers involved in the Round 1 crash – Koch, Gordon, and Dibenedetto – were unable to make the show.

Sprint Cup qualifying for tomorrow’s Coke Zero 400 is expected to go off at 5:10 p.m. ET, followed by the Nationwide race at 7:30 p.m. ET. Right now, the track is working to get the 2.5-mile oval in shape for Cup qualifying.

NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES AT DAYTONA – STARTING LINEUP

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.