Pagenaud secures Team Penske’s 500th overall pole in Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – Simon Pagenaud has secured his fifth Verizon IndyCar Series pole position of the year for Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN) in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, with a two-lap average of 185.859 mph at the 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway.

The Verizon P1 Award joins previous poles at Barber, the Indianapolis Grand Prix and both Detroit races. He also started first at St. Petersburg after teammate Will Power failed to start owing to his injuries.

The pole is Team Penske’s 500th in its history as an organization, across all series, in its 50th year. Will Power’s pole at the last IndyCar race at Road America was the 499th.

“That’s pretty cool isn’t it. 500 – how cool is that,” Pagenaud said. “It is just qualifying, we have a lot of work to do this weekend.  But it certainly a great stamp on the work the No. 22 team has been doing as well as the whole Penske organization.

“It is such a gamble for the engineers in this situation. You only get two laps. Conditions from this morning to the afternoon changed.  It is fun. When you get the car right like this on an oval.

“The biggest statement we want to show is we are strong on ovals as well and want to win. I’m super happy about that. I’m super happy we can show some speed. We were fast at Indy as well, but mechanical took us out of that.  It’s great to be here. It is great to show so much strength.

“I’m the lucky one who got to win the 500th pole for Team Penske.  A Frenchman and on an oval!”

Pagenaud knocked off teammate Helio Castroneves from the top spot as the 10th of 22 drivers to turn a lap.

Pagenaud was fifth in first practice but advanced come the time of qualifying.

Josef Newgarden, who didn’t test but has a strong baseline from teammate JR Hildebrand’s setup, qualified second ahead of Castroneves, Max Chilton in a career-best fourth and Charlie Kimball completing the top five.

Chevrolet aero kits and engines occupied 10 of the top 11 spots on the grid, Mikhail Aleshin proving the lone Honda interloper in ninth.

That being said, Honda cars also struggled in qualifying last year and Ryan Hunter-Reay rebounded to win his second race in a row and third in four years. Honda’s only losses at Iowa came in 2012 and 2013 when Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe in then-Chevrolet-powered entries for Andretti Autosport.

Results are below.

IowaQuals

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.