Chevrolet teams dominate IndyCar’s season opener, new aero kit era


ST. PETERSBURG – If testing was any indication of things to come in terms of aero kit performance, Chevrolet teams were expected to hold the upper hand once the Verizon IndyCar Series actual race season began.

Indeed they did, by securing five of the top six spots in Saturday’s Firestone Fast Six qualifying session, and then sweeping the top six positions in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The Team Penske quartet did most of the damage, with race winner Juan Pablo Montoya leading the team’s 1-2-4-5 finish in its first race as a four-car IndyCar squad.

But additional great runs from Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais to third and sixth, respectively, provided further support.

The collective team effort – and with Luca Filippi ninth for CFH Racing to make for four different Chevrolet teams in the top-10 – was praised by Chevrolet’s Jim Campbell post-race.

“Juan Pablo’s great drive and his crew’s consistently quick pit stops were a powerful combination today on the Streets of St. Pete. And his win was also an exciting way to debut the new Chevrolet Aero Kit,” said Campbell, who is Chevrolet U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports.

“The Chevrolet aero kit development was a team effort, so it was exciting to see drivers that represented three different Chevy teams finish in the top six finishing positions.”

While the results would paint a picture of domination, both Montoya and Will Power took the opportunity during the weekend to still note the tightness of the field.

“What was surprising is how tight it was in qualifying today between Chevy and Honda,” Power said after qualifying on Saturday. “When you think about it, different engine, different body kit, but very similar lap times.

“I was kind of worried that the competitiveness of this series wouldn’t be such this year. But it is. It’s right there as it was.”

Honda will no doubt be seeking better results as the championship heads to NOLA Motorsports Park in two weeks, while Chevrolet will look to continue or extend their level of statistical dominance.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

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.