Castroneves tops tow, non-tow charts Tuesday at IMS on a tough day for Honda


Helio Castroneves led both the overall and non-tow speed charts during Tuesday’s practice session for the 99th Indianapolis 500.

The driver of the No. 3 Verizon/Shell Team Penske Chevrolet posted a 227.514 mph to lead the overall speed charts, and along with teammate Simon Pagenaud (227.382), the two were the first into the 227 mph bracket this month.

Right near the end of the six-hour session, Castroneves popped off the fastest lap without a tow to this point, at  225.315 mph. Sage Karam had been the fastest without a tow prior to that, at 224.035 mph.

Scott Dixon was third overall, followed by Justin Wilson and Townsend Bell.

Wilson’s day ended early and capped off a tough day for Honda-powered cars at the Speedway.

Near the end of the session, the popular Englishman pulled off entering Turn 1 with plumes of smoke out the back of his No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda.

It was the third mechanical related issue of the day for Honda. James Jakes also had smoke out the rear of his No. 7 Mediatech Advertising Honda (see below) and, most dramatically, a fuel leak caused an inferno for Andretti’s fifth driver this month, Simona de Silvestro in the No. 29 TE Connectivity Honda.

Per Indianapolis Star reporter Curt Cavin, Wilson’s was nearing a change while Jakes’ was relatively new.

A total of 34 driver/car combinations took time, with the only driver not to go out the 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Lazier, who is expected to be on a short engine program (reduced mileage) in his No. 91 Lazier Racing Partners Chevrolet.

Of the 34, Marco Andretti ran in both his No. 27 Snapple Honda and Carlos Munoz’s No. 26 Cinsay/ Honda (the latter for four laps), while Dale Coyne Racing’s No. 19 Honda got its first running of the month with James Davison.

Davison is not confirmed yet for the remainder of the month, but is the likeliest candidate to continue behind the wheel even despite a conflict next weekend in Canada where he will be unable to qualify the No. 19 Honda. He’ll be racing in the Pirelli World Challenge races in the No. 33 AE Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Alex Tagliani, in the No. 48 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda, went out for an installation lap while teammate Jack Hawksworth in the No. 41 ABC Supply Co. Honda turned his first flying laps of the week after not running on Monday.

Speeds are below. Best overall speeds are the first column (227 and change) with best non-tow speeds to the right (225 on down).


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.