IndyCar: Rahal’s charges propels him to lead at GP of Indianapolis halfway mark

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INDIANAPOLIS – Graham Rahal leads the Verizon IndyCar Series’ Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis through 41 of 82 laps, in the final tune-up race before the Indianapolis 500 two weeks from Sunday.

For the second consecutive race, it seems the driver of the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing is turning in the drive of the day.

Rahal started 17th, but made it up to sixth following a frantic first lap fracas at Turn 1, and methodically moved forward to fourth.

He jumped both Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais at the first pit stop sequence, although he lost a bit of time to polesitter Will Power in traffic.

Power led 34 of 41 laps, before his second stop on Lap 40. He resumed the net lead after Rahal pitted later, on Lap 42.

Power, Rahal, Pagenaud, Bourdais and either Luca Filippi or Juan Pablo Montoya spent the most time in the top five in the opening lap of the race.

The leaders now appear to be switching back from Firestone black tires to red tires for the third stint.

It has been a mostly clean 41 laps, save for the first turn of the race, which featured a debris field of aero kit shards.

Contact in Turn 1 involved Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Jack Hawksworth, James Hinchcliffe and Josef Newgarden. Castroneves and Hinchcliffe kept going while Dixon, Hawksworth and Newgarden were stopped in Turn 1, assisted by the Holmatro Safety Team, restarted and return to the field.

A lap later, Justin Wilson, Charlie Kimball, Hinchcliffe, Castroneves, James Jakes, Dixon, Newgarden, Huertas and Hawksworth pitted for wing changes. Wilson, Huertas and Hawksworth replaced their front wings, Newgarden replaced his rear wing, and the others replaced both.

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.