Same script for Kevin Harvick yet again: Strong start, strong car, not so strong finish

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Kevin Harvick has become NASCAR’s version of Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day.

No matter what he tries or does, Harvick just keeps getting the same outcome: bad luck and misfortune.

It’s like a broken record, second verse same as the first.

What began as a day that promised the potential of finally breaking his run of frustration ended with a not-so-promising finish.

For the second time in as many races and for the fourth time in the last seven, Harvick started Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway from the pole.

As he typically has done, he had a great start and was headed for what appeared to be a great run.

And also as he’s looked probably close to a dozen or more times thus far in the 2014 campaign, Harvick appeared to have the fastest car and the one to beat.

But by the time the checkered flag came around Sunday afternoon, Harvick was nowhere to be found near victory lane.

Once again, the bad luck that has plagued him throughout the season struck again, relegating him to a disappointing 12th-place finish.

Harvick has had a spate of issues this season, mostly pit crew errors that ultimately led to a swap of pit crews with Tony Stewart’s team before the Chase began.

Yet as old-time radio disc jockeys used to say, “the hits just keep on comin'” for Harvick.

This time, on Lap 215 of the 267-lap event on the 1.5-mile layout, Harvick came onto pit road with what appeared to be a right front tire issue.

Or so he thought.

“I thought I had a flat tire and pitted just because you see all the trouble that’s going on,” Harvick said to ESPN about the number of his fellow drivers that had tire problems in the race.

As it turned out, it was not a flat tire but simply a handling problem.

“We missed it a little bit on the handling today,” Harvick said. “We qualified well and had good track position that saved us at the beginning of the race.

“But when I thought I had a flat, it got us behind.”

You could tell the disappointment from Harvick by the look on his face and the terseness in his voice.

When asked what it was that made him believe he had a flat, Harvick simply said “Didn’t turn” and walked away.

Sure, having one crazy thing after another seemingly every race can drive a race car driver batty.

But sooner or later the law of averages is bound to turn around for Harvick, who is now sixth in the Chase standings, 15 points behind new series leader Joey Logano.

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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.