Rahal once again leads Honda’s charge, banking another top-five in Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing continued their hot streak, with Rahal taking the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda to its third straight top-five finish.

After runner-up finishes in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama and the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Rahal ended fifth in the 99th Indianapolis 500, following a drive up through the field from 17th on the grid.

Rahal quietly got into the top 10 by Lap 68, then methodically moved forward from there.

Despite his, the team’s, and Honda’s best efforts, Rahal said post-race that the Chevrolets had a notable edge.

“I’m really, really proud of these guys, all the effort they continue to put in,” Rahal said. “I mean, once again today, the top Honda. The Chevy was just in a league of its own unfortunately on horsepower. I was happy we were as close to Chuck and Dixon at the end as we were. I thought there was no hope. With 15 to go, to be tenth or ninth, charge up through those guys, pretty tricky.

“A lot of fun. I thought the racing was really good. Again, 500 miles. We were good at times, bad at times. Lucky we ended on a high note.

“More importantly than anything, I said to my boys coming into today, no matter what, two things I wanted, that was to be the top Honda, and to keep up with the top three in points, top four. Unfortunately three of those guys finished ahead of us, but still had a very good points today.”

To that point, Rahal ranks fifth in the standings heading into Detroit next weekend. That marked the site of his only podium finish last year, a runner-up finish in race one.

Rahal said he wanted to record a result for team co-owner David Letterman, who was on site this weekend in his first weekend in retirement following the conclusion of “The Late Show” earlier this week.

“Yeah, I mean, we wanted to win for Dave. I think we all knew that we were going to have an uphill battle today. At the end of the day we finished a lot closer than I expected.

“I think Dave will be very happy. It’s good talking to him. He assured me we’ll see him around the racetrack more. I’m excited to have him at this stage of his life. Talking to his wife, she’s feeling the same.

“It’s about time he can enjoy himself a little bit, and hopefully that includes IndyCar racing.”

Rahal also praised the racing itself on the day.

“One point needs to be made, which is what Will (Power) said.  I think the racing today was very hard, but very clean.  The people I was racing with, we had some good battles, but the guys did an excellent job.  A lot of outside passes which I’ve rarely ever seen here.  A lot of inside.  Very good battles but very clean.”

The result is Rahal’s best in the Indianapolis 500 since ending a career-best third in 2011.

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.