NASCAR Trucks title rivals Crafton, Blaney start up front in tonight’s season finale

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Ryan Blaney will have a slight advantage at the drop of the green flag for tonight’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Blaney, down 25 points to Matt Crafton (pictured, right), will start on the front row alongside pole sitter Kyle Larson for the Ford Ecoboost 200.

“I hope our race truck’s a lot better than our qualifying truck,” Blaney told Fox Sports. “I didn’t think our qualifying lap was very good, and I was kind of surprised when we ended up second.

“But I know we’ve got a better race truck from practice yesterday, and I think we have that to look forward to. I think it holds on pretty decent, so hopefully, it’ll act the same way tonight.

“We practiced yesterday during the heat of the day, so that throws a variable in it. But hopefully, it’ll be good when it cools off tonight.”

However, Crafton won’t be far behind him; he’ll be starting sixth, on the outside of Row 3.

A finish of 21st or better in tonight’s race will give Crafton his second consecutive Truck Series title and the distinction of being the first back-to-back champion in series history.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Crafton said. “I think we have a very good Menards Toyota Tundra. It was good in the long run yesterday [in practice], and that’s all we worked on, just our race trim. Didn’t do any qualifying runs.

“The first two [qualifying rounds], I was pretty satisfied with it. Then [in the final round], I think I just got a little bit too close to the 19 [Ross Chastain] and I got a little bit tight. But, all in all, I think it’s gonna race just fine.”

Chastain and Tyler Reddick will start in Row 2, followed by Kyle Busch and Matt Crafton in Row 3. Ty Dillon and Darrell “Bubba” Wallace are in Row 4, and Jeb Burton and Bryan Silas go off from Row 5.

Busch is seeking to win the Truck Series’ owner’s championship for the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports team. He leads Crafton’s No. 88 ThorSport Racing team by 18 points for that title and can clinch it with a 14th-place finish.

Green flag for tonight’s 134-lap event is scheduled to fall shortly after 8 p.m. ET.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Homestead – Starting Lineup

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.