Jeff Gordon blown away by John Force tribute car

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JOLIET, Ill. — It’s not easy keeping a secret from Jeff Gordon, but he admits he was shocked when he learned 16-time Funny Car champion John Force would campaign a tribute car dedicated to Gordon at this weekend’s NHRA race in Concord, N.C.

“It blew me away,” Gordon said Friday at Chicagoland Speedway, where he’s preparing for the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup in Sunday’s MyAFibRisk.com 400.

“I have always been a huge fan of John Force, and I went out to that track (ZMax Dragway at Charlotte Motor Speedway). Took my kids out there to watch the drag races. I was just so impressed with what they do and the power in those cars.”

But Gordon had no clue Force, along with Chevrolet, would put together a car honoring Gordon’s career.

“It was kept a secret from me,” Gordon said. “My office, my stepdad (John Bickford), Jon Edwards (PR person) and a few others knew about it.

John Force Jeff Gordon photo 2

“It is one thing to see a track or a fan or somebody here within this garage area do something to pay tribute. But when it starts going outside of NASCAR and our sport, that certainly humbles you and make you extremely appreciative of not only what I have done, but people that recognize it – especially when it is someone like John Force.”

Gordon isn’t sure he’ll eventually get the body off Force’s tribute car. But if he does, he humorously hopes Force keeps it in one piece in this weekend’s Carolina Nationals.

“I want to tell John I only want the flames to be on the paint, because I’ve seen him go up in a big ball of flames before this,” Gordon laughed. “So let’s just hope it stays on the body with the paint. I don’t know anything more than that.

“I am just so appreciative of him doing that. Just seeing it on the track is an honor.”

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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.