Canandaigua Motorsports Park gets back to racing, remembers Kevin Ward Jr.

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One week after the fatal sprint car crash that involved Tony Stewart and left Kevin Ward Jr. dead, Canandaigua (N.Y.) Motorsports Park resumed racing on Saturday night.

Many in attendance Saturday at CMP wore orange, one of the primary colors of Ward’s No. 13 sprint car. Persistent showers cut the racing schedule short, but several tributes to Ward were still made.

According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s report, drivers and crew members bearing orange glow-sticks formed a horseshoe. Additionally, a No. 13 sign was unveiled near CMP’s Turn 2.

After cancelling Wednesday’s schedule, CMP announced that they would go back racing on Saturday after track promoter Jeremie Corcoran consulted with Ward’s family.

That gesture won the respect of Webster, New York resident Brandon Lewis, who told the D&C that while he didn’t know Ward personally, he wanted to go to CMP and pay his respects.

“Not a lot of promoters and owners get a hold of the (victim’s) family, talk to the staff about re-opening,” Lewis said to the paper. “The guy in charge talked to his own family (for guidance).

“That tells you that they respect the situation and not all about the money. That’s big for me.”

Last Saturday at CMP, Ward was struck by Stewart’s car after Ward walked down the racing surface to apparently confront the latter driver following an on-track incident. Ward was later pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

The local community said goodbye to Ward on Thursday in a funeral service that took place at the same high school he graduated from just a couple of years ago.

As for the investigation into the crash, it remains ongoing as the Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff’s Department continues to gather all information regarding the tragedy.

Stewart, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, is not competing in today’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

For this race, Cup veteran and NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton will drive Stewart’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

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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.