Chaves a whisker away from top-10 after competitive, roller-coaster race in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE – One of the under-the-radar stars of the Verizon IndyCar Series season to this point has been rookie Gabby Chaves with Bryan Herta Autosport.

Chaves had arguably one of his best races this year on Sunday in the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers, even though the simple stat line of starting 12th, finishing 11th doesn’t scream at you.

But Chaves went from 12th to sixth on the first lap in the No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda, then steadily fell back, but enjoyed a first half dice with past series champions and Milwaukee winners Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power at various points of the first 100-plus laps.

A video of the start is below:

Chaves’ roller-coaster ride continued and he got as high as fifth in the second half of the race. The final caution flag negated several drivers’ fuel concerns, and Chaves lost a fair bit of track position.

All told though, 11th followed a ninth in Detroit race two and 10th in Texas as his best finish of his freshman season.

“I probably experienced so many things in that race,” Chaves told MotorSportsTalk post-race. “I experienced probably the best start I’ve had, I went 12th to sixth in the first corner. Then I experienced one of the scariest moments going from sixth to like 12th in the next corner, trying to push myself!

“I had a lot of moments out there. I fought hard to make positions, keep my positions. We got a little bit unlucky there with the [last] caution. We were good on fuel. Four weren’t and got lucky. We could have had a top-six, top-seven. We’ll take this and move forward.”

Chaves, who raced at the track twice in Indy Lights, said the IndyCar style of racing at the venerable Milwaukee Mile oval wasn’t too different.

“It was very similar but harder, when you experience the same characteristics behind other cars,” Chaves explained. “Tire degradation is the same feeling. It’s way harder. When you’re behind another car in Indy Lights, you can manage it. It was so rough out there. It was hard to get within three or four car lengths and not feel the suspension is broke. But I enjoyed it. The team pushed itself.”

For fun this weekend and to try to break a recent string of tough luck, several BHA team members – including their eponymous team owner Bryan Herta himself – sported mustaches or other facial hair at the track.

Chaves, only 22 and unable to grow much himself, stuck a joke mustache on his face during the weekend to join in the festivities.

The facial hair was the comedic high point of a fun, and competitive, weekend for one of IndyCar’s two full-season single-car teams.

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.