IndyCar points: Pagenaud stretches lead, rookie battle tightens

Photo: IndyCar

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four top-two finishes in four races, and 188 out of a maximum possible 216 points, have Simon Pagenaud nearly a full race clear of the Verizon IndyCar Series field heading into the month of May.

Pagenaud’s second straight win now sees him 48 points clear of Scott Dixon, who finished 10th in his first non-podium finish in seven attempts at Barber Motorsports Park.

A maximum number of points in one weekend is 54 – which Pagenaud secured this weekend with a win, scoring pole (one bonus point), and leading both one lap (one point) and the most laps (two points).

With Dixon only scoring 20 points for 10th place, Pagenaud gapped him by some 34 points in one race – expanding the lead from 14 points after leaving Long Beach last week.

Dixon leads the remaining five drivers who’ve hit the century mark in points through four races; Juan Pablo Montoya made the most of his situation to come from 21st to fifth and sits third on 136, while consistency has taken Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan to 118 and 106 points apiece. Graham Rahal’s first podium of the year brings him to 100 points, now sixth.

Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay complete the top 10 in points through four races.

Pagenaud is the first repeat winner this year and one of eight drivers who have scored podiums; Rahal and Newgarden added their names to that list this weekend.

Through four races, the only drivers who haven’t yet scored a top-10 finish are Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi, Jack Hawksworth, Conor Daly and Luca Filippi.

Daly, interestingly, is the highest Honda lap leader through four races with 15 laps out front in St. Petersburg. The problem for him – and for Honda – is that through four races, Chevrolet has led 506 of 530 laps overall.

Daly, Rossi and Max Chilton are all still super close in the battle for Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year honors through four races.

Chilton finished 21st and last on Sunday, after sustaining contact in the first start accordion effect collision that also affected Mikhail Aleshin and Jack Hawksworth. Carlos Munoz triggered the incident.

Daly wasn’t much better in 20th, with his race more notable for defending his lead lap position in the middle stint of the race. Rossi made it as high as 10th after a strong first stint and a great pit stop but struggled with the floor of the car all weekend, and fell to 15th at the checkered flag.

Chilton sits 16th in points with 64 points, with Rossi and Daly equal 18th on 59, just five points.

Full points are below, via INDYCAR. Here is a link to the points after Long Beach.


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.