Sprint Cup champ Kevin Harvick shut out in AP Athlete of Year award vote

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The Associated Press has handed out its Male and Female Athlete of the Year Awards, and they’ve respectively gone to two worthy winners: The San Francisco Giants’ World Series hero Madison Bumgarner and Little League World Series phenom Mo’ne Davis.

But NASCAR didn’t get a lot of love in the voting for either one of the honors.

Danica Patrick improved in her second season of Sprint Cup competition but that was only enough to get her one vote for the AP’s Female award.

Still, it was better than what her Stewart-Haas Racing teammate and new Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick got for the AP’s Male award: Zero. Zilch. Nada.

Now, we shouldn’t lament too much for Harvick, who captured the prestigious Driver of the Year award for his 2014 efforts.

But considering that Jimmie Johnson finished third for the AP Male award in 2013 after winning his sixth career Cup title, it’s a bit jarring to not see Harvick anywhere on this year’s vote count.

It ran as follows: Bumgarner, 38; Clayton Kershaw, 13; Derek Jeter and Rory McIlroy, seven votes each; Peyton Manning, five; Tim Howard and Lionel Messi, four votes each; Tim Duncan and Aaron Rodgers, three votes each; Novak Djokovic, Richard Sherman, and Tom Brady, two votes each; Thomas Mueller, Sidney Crosby, Marcus Mariota, and LeBron James, one vote each.

Harvick’s season wasn’t an altogether perfect one. But while he had multiple mishaps on his way to the Chase, many of those can be placed at the feet of his pit crew (which got swapped out for the crew of teammate/boss Tony Stewart before the Chase). There were a few mechanical failures sprinkled in as well.

But once the post-season rolled around, Harvick and the No. 4 team brought it all together with three victories in the last six races – including consecutive triumphs at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami that enabled Harvick to win it all.

His year might not have been enough to eclipse those of Bumgarner and the other top vote getters. OK, that’s fine.

But to have it not gain even a single vote is a surprise – and it’s not a very good one.

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.