IndyCar: Pagenaud rallies, finishes 4th in Race 1 at Toronto (VIDEO)

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After getting spun out on the opening lap, Simon Pagenaud recovered with the help of some strategy to claim a fourth-place finish in today’s first race of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.

Pagenaud started fourth for Race 1, but was turned around by Luca Filippi coming out of Turn 4. The incident also collected multiple other cars, including Takuma Sato (who did not return), Josef Newgarden, Mike Conway, and Carlos Munoz.

A red flag was flown due to an extended cleanup, but when it changed to yellow, Pagenaud quickly got repairs from his Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports crew before going back on track at the rear of the field.

But on Lap 10, Pagenaud was called into the pits for an early stop, getting sticker primary tires in the process. That put him off-sequence, but Pagenaud was able to rise up to the lead by Lap 35 as the leaders started making their own stops under green.

For the next six laps, Pagenaud pushed as hard as he could before he abandoned the lead for service on Lap 41. But when he came back out, he found himself back where he started in fourth place, and that’s where he would remain for the rest of the race.

“The team did a great job putting me in the right strategy and honestly, that start- I drove really upset after that,” Pagenaud told NBCSN with a knowing laugh. “I was really upset. [There was] nothing I could’ve done. I got lucky to be honest. Everybody could have T-boned me there. But I’m glad we could get back in the race.

“At this point, I was really upset. I drove as hard as I could. The car was really competitive and it’s been competitive all weekend, so I was hoping to get back in the front.

“But I needed to be in clean air and the team did that. They put me in really good strategy. We did some really good lap times and we got right back behind TK [Tony Kanaan]. But once I was behind, there was no other hope.”

Pagenaud now shifts his attention to Race 2, which will have the field gridded by entrant points following Race 1.

With Pagenaud now third in the standings, he’ll be up front for the standing start later this afternoon (coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).

“Fourth was really good, but we’ve got another one this afternoon and I think we can win,” Pagenaud concluded.

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.