MRTI: Kyle Kaiser seeks to maintain momentum heading to Phoenix

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

After one weekend in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, there’s a Kyle as the meat in the middle of a Felix sandwich.

While Felix Serralles and Felix Rosenqvist split the race wins and nearly split the points – 49 to 47 – coming out of St. Petersburg, the intermediary is Kyle Kaiser, who was the only driver to bag two podium finishes out of the weekend.

Kaiser now heads to Phoenix in his No. 18 Intervision/NetApp/Juniper Networks Dallara IL-15 Mazda for Juncos Racing with 48 points, on the strength of third and second place finishes, and seeking his first win to go along with his first pole at St. Petersburg.

“Absolutely that’s the goal, that, and modeling myself after my teammate (Spencer Pigot) last year,” the 20-year-old Californian told NBC Sports.

“He had a lot of podium finishes and that’s what you have to do in this field. You want the win, but I’m happy with consistency at the podium.”

Kaiser had a tough start in Saturday’s first race of the weekend and fell back behind the trio of Zach Veach, Serralles and Scott Hargrove, but recovered to third in the opening race.

With a better start in the second race, he was pushing Rosenqvist for the win best as he could and got clear of Veach for second.

“The goal today was to move forward,” he said. “I’d had a good plan. I was hoping Felix (Rosenqvist) would get a better start today. But you could tell he learned a lot on Saturday with what was probably his first rolling start in a while.

“I was glad he got a good start, and I tried to stay right behind him. I’ve watched all the starts. If you get the inside line, most of the time you’ll move up. So I’m happy with how I executed.”

Admittedly the Phoenix oval later this week presents a significant challenge by comparison. Kaiser ended with a best time of 22.1645 seconds, at 165.995 mph during the single day test in February. But he’s motivated to carry the momentum.

“Like I’ve told others, we have the confidence coming in,” Kaiser said. “It doesn’t translate to setup, but we’re entering from a position of strength. I’m super confident, and I love the ovals.”

Kaiser finished ninth (Milwaukee) and fourth (Iowa) on the two short ovals last year in Indy Lights.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

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.