IndyCar prepares for return to Watkins Glen with big test Thursday

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When you haven’t been at a track for six years – particularly a track that recently underwent a complete repaving that has been universally praised by racers in other motorsport series – it’s to your benefit to get reacquainted with the place.

And that’s what drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series will do Thursday, when they return to upstate New York for a daylong test at Watkins Glen International.

When this season began, WGI was not on the IndyCar schedule. But when the inaugural Labor Day weekend race in Boston was abruptly cancelled, Watkins Glen became the designated replacement for the Beantown event.

The rescheduled and relocated event will be known as the IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen, set from Sept 1-4.

IndyCar has not raced at WGI since 2010. In total, the series raced six times at the twisting permanent road course.

Defending IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon won the first three series races there from 2005-2007, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay (2008), Justin Wilson (2010) and most recently Will Power (2010).

Here’s a list of drivers scheduled to take part in Thursday’s test:

* Andretti Autosport (first three pairs of drivers will split rides in same car): Marco Andretti/Shelby Blackstock**, Ryan Hunter-Reay/Dean Stoneman**, Carlos Munoz/Dalton Kellett**, Alexander Rossi

* Chip Ganassi Racing Teams: Max Chilton, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball

* Dale Coyne Racing: Conor Daly and TBD

* Ed Carpenter Racing: Josef Newgarden, Spencer Pigot

* KVSH Racing: Sebastien Bourdais

* Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal/Ed Jones**

* Schmidt Peterson Motorsports: Mikhail Aleshin, James Hinchcliffe

* Team Penske: Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power

** Indicates Indy Lights drivers testing an Indy car, but only scheduled to compete in the Indy Lights race during the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen weekend.

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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.