Chevrolet, Honda take engine battle to Long Beach

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After the first two rounds of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ 2015 season, the engine battle between Chevrolet and Honda is more like a skirmish going into Long Beach, depending on how you look at it.

Chevrolet engine teams have clearly dominated the opening two races, specifically Team Penske with its 1-2-4-5 finish at St. Petersburg and leading the opening laps at NOLA before rain shook things up. That led to Honda claiming a 1-3-4 finish leaving Helio Castroneves in second and Juan Pablo Montoya fifth.

While the driver’s points standings reflect on-track results, the manufacture’s standings has Chevy looking at a wide chasm at Honda, as it trails by 179 points.

Chevrolet received a 220-point penalty after St. Petersburg when 11 of 12 Chevy teams conducted “non-minor engine repair” to account for faulty valve springs.

Now IndyCar heads for the West Coast and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The third event of the season, Long Beach isn’t a track that’s been tipped heavily in either manufacturer’s favor in recent years.

Beginning with Mike Conway’s win in 2011 with a Honda engine, every other year has alternated, with Will Power in 2012 (Chevy), Takuma Sato in 2013 (Honda) and then Conway again in 2014 with Chevrolet.

“Street courses present unique challenges and for this circuit in particular the solid execution of the hairpin leading to the curved front straight is a critical element for a fast lap,” said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager in a release. “With the introduction of the 2015 Chevrolet Aero Kit and integrated Chevrolet Indy V6 engine, the excitement for each venue on the schedule feels new again.”

In the field for Sunday’s race are 12 Chevy drivers, but only four have past wins at the track: Sebastien Bourdais, Power,  Castroneves and Montoya.

Honda has had plenty of success at the 12-turn street course, winning 11 of the 15 races it has competed in at the track, meaning its won 73 percent of the races entered.

Honda won at the track seven straight years, from 1996-2002, and with engine manufacturer competition in all those years.

With Penske being the class of the field when not impeded by rain, Chevy has a strong chance of ending the swapping of wins in Long Beach and giving the manufacturer consecutive wins.

A win would do wonders in helping Chevy bounce back from the point deficit. Before the penalty, Chevy earned 128 points at St. Petersburg.

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.