For Kyle Busch, NHL is a lot like NASCAR: Instigating, fighting, knocking an opponent into the boards

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Comparing NASCAR and hockey might seem a stretch, but Kyle Busch and Arizona Coyotes’ captain Shane Doan did their part Thursday to bring the two sports together.

And you know what? There really may be a lot more in common between the two than you might think. (We’ll get back to that in a moment.)

Four days after the Super Bowl played out across the street at University of Phoenix Stadium, Busch stopped by the Gila River Arena, where the Coyotes play home games in the NHL.

Busch was in the Phoenix area promoting the upcoming Sprint Cup season-opening Daytona 500 as well as the March 15 CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Admittedly, Busch – who traded Doan a M&Ms racing jacket for a Coyotes jersey with Busch’s name and car number (18) on the back – isn’t much of a NHL fan.

“I have to admit, I’m not a hockey guy, but I am a fan of all sports,” Busch said, according to AzCentral.com. “Wayne Gretzky, that’s sort of a name I’m familiar with.

“Past that, I guess just knowing the Blackhawks won a few championships in the last few years because I’m a Chicago sports fan and because my family is from there.”

Busch and Doan, who is a casual NASCAR fan, hit it off so much that Busch hung around to watch the game vs. the Carolina Hurricanes.

And wouldn’t you know it but No. 18 on the Coyotes, forward David Moss, scored the game-tying goal that eventually sent the match into a shootout, which the Coyotes lost 2-1.

Okay, now let’s get to the comparisons between the two sports:

* Much like he’s done at times in his NASCAR career, “Rowdy” (Busch’s nickname) would fit very well on a hockey rink as an instigator. Actually, that could be a great new nickname: Kyle “The Instigator” Busch.

* Just like defensemen protect their forwards and goalie, Busch has the back of his teammates, Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth, on the racetrack.

* While you may not think of it at first, there’s a definite synergy between a hockey player putting an opponent into the boards and a NASCAR driver putting a rival into the wall.

* And let’s not forget the fighting aspect of both sports.

“You can definitely put guys in the wall if you want to,” Busch said with a laugh. “And you will fight afterwards, that’s for sure. There’s maybe not as many checks in NASCAR as you see in hockey, but it’s still fun.”

As physical as NASCAR racing may be at times, Busch wouldn’t want to change spots with Doan, who nonetheless insists NASCAR is more physical than hockey.

“No, no, he’s crazy,” Busch said of Doan’s perception. “Those guys (hockey players), man, they’re fighting hard out there. … I definitely would never be able to go out on the ice and skate and beat up against all these guys as hard as they do.”

But Doan definitely had the last word in which sport is tougher.

“Oh, our stress levels aren’t even remotely close to what they have to deal with,” Doan said of NASCAR drivers. “We make a mistake, we might get knocked out. They make a mistake, they might die.”

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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.