Team Penske comes up short at Indy, pole streak ends at eight — but is still in good position overall


All good things eventually come to an end, and such was the case for Team Penske during Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 qualifying.

When Target/Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon won the pole for this coming Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing, it snapped a stranglehold on pole positions that Team Penske had held for the last eight Verizon IndyCar Series races.

The streak dated back to the last three races of the 2014 season, starting with Milwaukee, and continued with the first five races of the current campaign.

But don’t weep for Team Penske. It still has two drivers on the front row of the 99th running of the 500: Will Power starts a career-best second and Simon Pagenaud will start third.

Helio Castroneves, bidding to become the fourth driver to win four Indy 500 titles, will start in the middle of the second row in fifth position.

The fourth Penske driver, reigning points leader Juan Pablo Montoya, will start from the outside of the fifth row (qualified 15th).

“I think we have a good chance here, the entire team,” Pagenaud told about the overall strength of the entire Team Penske delegation. “But the Indy 500 is a bit like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You’re never ready enough for this race.

“There’s so many things, nine to 10 pit stops, a yellow can fall out at the wrong time, something can happen in pit lane.

“It can go all right up until the race and something can happen at the last moment where you don’t expect it. I’m just going to keep being like I have been, like pretty non-emotional about it and do my job, even though I’m super excited.”

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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.