As Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to bolster his chances of contending for this year’s Sprint Cup championship, some are comparing his current efforts to how he fared a decade ago in the 2004 season.
Earnhardt won six times that year, including twice in the Chase (Talladega and Phoenix). But back-to-back crashes at Martinsville and Atlanta in that same stretch ultimately knocked him out of the title picture.
Today on NASCAR AMERICA, Earnhardt talked with NBCSN’s Marty Snider about how he’s evolved as a driver since then – among other things.
Earnhardt will be among those competing in this year’s Chase, but Chip Ganassi Racing’s tandem of Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray are still trying to lock themselves in.
Larson is in position to make the Chase on points alone, but is only five points ahead of the 16th place cutoff position that’s held by Greg Biffle. McMurray’s in an even tougher spot at 54 points behind Biffle, and in all likelihood needs a win to enter the post-season.
The NASCAR AMERICA crew of Rick Allen, Kyle Petty, and Parker Kligerman took time to discuss the Chase outlook for the Ganassi duo.
They also went through each of the remaining races and talked about who they expect to see do well in each of them.
For more clips from NASCAR AMERICA, check out the show’s archive page.
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.