MRTI: Indy Lights, Pro Mazda title battles head to penultimate weekend

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While the Verizon IndyCar Series title battle will get most of the attention this weekend, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires championships are also at a crucial point this weekend at the Milwaukee Mile.

Both series have had a number of doubleheader race weekends this year, but there’s only one race for both series in Milwaukee. Pro Mazda’s 100-lapper runs Saturday night with Indy Lights’ 100-lapper Sunday morning. Here’s the quick title battle synopsis:

INDY LIGHTS (Entry List)

On paper, this represents Zach Veach’s best shot to claw back the 24-point gap to points leader Gabby Chaves (431-407). Veach nearly won this race a year ago, but burned off his tires too quick and fell into Sage Karam’s clutches. Veach won twice earlier this year and as he’s solid on ovals, this is where he can capitalize.

Chaves, so long as he keeps Veach within three to four spots ahead, will be able to sustain the points lead. The only way he won’t is if he finishes seventh or eighth in the admittedly small eight-car field.

The wild card is Jack Harvey, who’s new to the circuit and has suddenly played himself into title contention following a Mid-Ohio doubleheader weekend sweep. Harvey sits second in points, 18 behind Chaves (431-418). He may not take the points lead away this weekend but if he limits the damage to his two title rivals, he’ll still be in with a shot at Sonoma next weekend.

Those playing spoilers? Basically the rest of the field, with Matthew Brabham, the Pro Mazda winner here last year, most likely to hassle the title contenders. Although listed, Zack Meyer’s Team Moore Racing entry is not here this weekend.

PRO MAZDA (Entry List

The two-horse race that is the battle between Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove continues at Milwaukee. Pigot should have the edge heading into the weekend and it remains to be seen if Hargrove can continue his second-half surge. Pigot leads Hargrove by 14 (259-245) entering the weekend.

Their respective teammates, Kyle Kaiser (Pigot’s) and Neil Alberico (Hargrove’s) as well as the Andretti Autosport pair of Garett Grist and Shelby Blackstock have the opportunity to play spoiler.

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.