‘This one’s for you, Dad’ — Kenny Wallace wins 3rd annual Russ Wallace Memorial event

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Kenny Wallace looked up to the skies and thought to himself, “This one’s for you, Dad.”

It was quite the appropriate reaction – and also quite the emotional moment – as Wallace won the third-annual Russ Wallace Memorial Friday night at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois.

The race is named in honor of the father of brothers Kenny, Mike and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.

Russ Wallace was legendary on dirt tracks across the Midwest as a racer, crew chief and team owner. Sadly, the patriarch of the racing Wallace family passed away in 2011 at the age of 77 after a short illness.

Russ Wallace spent his life racing at nights and weekends while working a variety of jobs to support his family, including a car dealership mechanic, newspaper deliverer (which his three sons all helped out while growing up) and co-owned a vacuum and janitorial supply business in the St. Louis area.

Kenny Wallace had a stellar field of competitors in Friday night’s race, including Austin and Ty Dillon, Ken Schrader, Justin Allgaier and more than two dozen other racers on the dirt short track. Here’s a few tweets about Wallace after his emotional victory:

In a story on NASCAR.com that reported the elder Wallace’s death on Nov. 3, 2011, Kenny Wallace waxed eloquently on his father’s passing and what he meant to both himself and his brothers growing up as sons of a true racer.

“Let me be very clear when I say this: when I was growing up, all I wanted to be was a superstar race car driver. I wanted to be like my dad, Russ Wallace,” Kenny Wallace told NASCAR.com. “My dad — you can ask anybody in St. Louis — was the best. Dad won 12 weeks in a row one time. He set that record in Granite City, Ill., at Tri-City Speedway.

“I fought my way out of those race tracks, along with my mom [Judy]. … But my dad was good, and all I ever dreamed of becoming was a really, really good race car driver just like him.”

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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.