Edwards soldiers to 20th at Martinsville after getting caught in crash

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All things considered, Carl Edwards could’ve had a much worse result to his Eliminator Round opener on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

Edwards was having a middle-of-the-road Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 before he got tangled in a big crash with less than 65 laps to go that was triggered by a mechanical problem for fellow Chaser Brad Keselowski.

The incident was already in progress when Edwards came on the scene and was met by a spinning Martin Truex Jr (pictured, right). Edwards took damage to his No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford but by being the first car one lap down at the time, he wound up earning the free pass to return to the lead lap.

With the help of that break, Edwards ended up finishing 20th on a day he found “pretty frustrating.”

“We planned on running a lot better than that, but at the end of the day we still came home 20th and we could have lost our minds there,” he said. “It’s not what we wanted. [Crew chief] Jimmy [Fennig] and I talked about it. We’ll go to Texas and go for the win. We’ll go to Phoenix and go for the win there and that’s all we can do.”

Considering that Edwards is now 15 points behind the fourth-place cutoff for the Sprint Cup Championship Race, it may well take a victory over the next two weeks for him to get to Homestead with a chance at the title.

The good news for him and the 99 team is that Edwards has had success on both tracks with three victories at Texas, and two more at Phoenix.

“…We missed a little bit of an opportunity, but we ran fifth at Kansas and eighth at Charlotte [1.5-mile ovals in the Contender Round],” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of wins at Texas, so there’s nothing saying we can’t go there and do it.  We’ve got a test coming up this week and we’ll keep digging. These guys don’t quit.”

As he alludes to, Edwards and RFR will now shift its immediate focus to a test this week at Homestead that will also include fellow Chase teams Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, and Team Penske.

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.