Veteran Canadian motorsports editor predicts Jeff Gordon will race in 2016 Indianapolis 500

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All Jeff Gordon did was drive a few laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a Corvette Z06, announcing he would drive the pace car to start the Indianapolis 500, and imaginations are already running wild.

Speculation has started as to whether Gordon, a former native of Pittsboro, Ind., and four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, could make a run in the Indianapolis 500 in the future.

But Norris McDonald, veteran Canadian writer and “Wheels” section editor for the Toronto Star, isn’t just speculating. More than a year before the 100th running of the Indy 500, McDonald is calling his shot.

McDonald believes leading the 33-car field around the 2.5-mile track will plant a seed in the mind of Gordon, who will retire from NASCAR after this season.

“It’s going to give him a taste of what the Indy 500 is all about,” writes McDonald.  “All he’ll have to do is look in his rear-view mirror and see 33 Indy cars behind him, all snorting to be turned loose. He’ll get the fever. You watch. Gordon has said he will retire from the Sprint Cup circuit after this season but he never said he was retiring from motor racing.”

Then McDonald takes his keyboard and points it toward center field Turn One.

“I predict he will race in the 2016 Indianapolis 500, which will be the 100th renewal of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” wrote McDonald. “In fact, he could already have a deal with Roger Penske. Remember where you heard this. It’ll happen.”

McDonald doesn’t predict Gordon will attempt to complete the “double” of racing in both the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

At the pace car announcement, Gordon, who hasn’t attended the 500 since 1983, shared why he has never tried the feat in his 24-year NASCAR career.

“I’m the type of person where if I’m going to do it, I want to do it in a way where I feel like I can spend the proper amount of time behind the wheel and really get used to the car and appreciate and respect the competitors that race these cars every weekend and throughout the season,” Gordon said. “Do I wish I had the opportunity to race in the Indy 500? I think it’s any race car driver’s dream to race in this race.”’

Four drivers have ever successfully attempted the “double” of competing in the Indy 500 and Coke 600 in the same day, with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kurt Busch the latest to try in 2014.

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.