Beekhuis offers clarity on Hinchcliffe crash, concern about what could happen in Indy 500

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Jon Beekhuis knows fairly well what happened to IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe in Monday’s practice crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as best as possible given the circumstances.

Beekhuis, who serves as a pit reporter for both ABC and NBCSN’s Verizon IndyCar Series coverage, spoke to the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin on Tuesday’s edition of “Trackside” on 1070 the Fan radio in Indianapolis and provided further insight.

The full 14-minute interview is worth a listen, but here are a few excerpts of note.

Beekhuis offered his viewpoint as a former driver (he is the 1988 Indy Lights champion and raced portions of four years in CART), and addressed a point in his own career where he had an accident at Michigan International Speedway more than 20 years ago that was similar to Hinchcliffe’s.

“We’re certainly well aware that it was a suspension failure,” Beekhuis told Cavin about what caused Hinchcliffe’s wreck.

“I’ve had the very same thing happen – it was a push rod as opposed to a rocker (arm), but it’s the same dynamic. I was at Michigan, 230 mph turning into Turn 3, and it just popped. Almost an identical situation. The car drops on the ground, you have no steering, no brakes, you have very little time to think about it.

“Essentially, at these kinds of G forces, it’s like being a rock at the end of a string. You spin it around until you get to the G force level, and if one of those suspension components breaks, it’s essentially like the string breaks. Nothing is holding you, you’re just straight up to the wall.

“The impact in my case, and I think Eddie (Cheever) has had something similar, and of course the really sad part for Hinch was just the angle that he hit at punched that wishbone up through the tub.

“Still, it’s amazing with the safety technology that you can survive that, but he would have obviously survived that much better had not the puncture wound (occurred). It was very scary.”

Hinchcliffe crashed during practice Monday and suffered injuries that left him in critical condition when he was admitted to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

He underwent surgery shortly after the crash. After two days in the Intensive Care Unit, Hinchcliffe, 28, was transferred out on Wednesday, is listed in stable condition and is expected to make a complete recovery.

MORE: James Hinchcliffe transferred out of ICU, full recovery expected

Up to this point, there have been no reports that Hinchcliffe lost consciousness after the crash. But Beekhuis has an interesting perspective on that.

“I was in a similar situation,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I was unconscious for some period of time. They asked me in the emergency room if I was unconscious, and I said, ‘Well, not that I know of,’ and they found that humorous, some emergency room humor.

“But of course a driver always answers that because you know if you’ve had a concussion, that you’re out (of competition). That’s much different in Hinch’s case because it was extremely serious. In my case, I was hoping to get back in a car, but I had a broken hand, so that wasn’t going to happen anyway.

“At least from what I’ve read, and I haven’t spoken to the medical team, but it sounds like he was conscious. But I would imagine with that kind of lick, he certainly would have some concussive injury, one would think.”

While hoping for the best that Sunday’s race is incident-free – or if there are incidents, that they are minor in nature – Beekhuis admits he’s concerned about what may happen in the 500.

“We’re always concerned,” he said. “Even without aero kits, before any Speedway event, we all know that in real-world environments, strange things can happen. We’re always concerned going into events like this.

“We need to hope and pray that the race downforce, that the weather conditions of the day are going to keep people where they need to be and that it’s going to be safe.”

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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.