Alexander Rossi, Max Chilton eager for first career IndyCar starts at Long Beach

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It’s about 450 miles south from Auburn, California to Long Beach, but Alexander Rossi hopes to feel right at home in his first career appearance in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Even though he’s a California native, this will be the first time Rossi has raced an Indy car in his home state.

“Long Beach is one of those races that you always hear about as an unbelievable venue and event, so I am very excited to be a part of it this year,” said Rossi, driver of the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda. “This will be the first time in my professional career that I have raced at home in California and I will certainly be looking to put on a strong show for the local crowd.”

MORE: Late puncture halts Rossi’s impressive oval debut

MORE: Chilton follows up strong qualifying with solid seventh at PIR

While it will be Rossi’s first time racing at Long Beach, Max Chilton will be making his second start on the nearly two-mile Verizon IndyCar Series street course on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, having raced there last season in the Indy Lights event.

“I think we should be optimistic for Long Beach this weekend,” said Chilton, driver of the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “I raced in Indy Lights here last year so I have some knowledge of the circuit.

“We have one street race under our belts in St. Petersburg this year, so there were a lot of lessons learned that can be applied here.”

But perhaps the biggest lesson Chilton will learn will come from teammate, defending Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winner and 2015 series champion Scott Dixon.

Scott is the defending winner and really knows how to get around this place as well,” Chilton said. “So I’ll be looking to him for pointers before we get started on track Friday.”

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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.