Ron Capps wins NHRA Funny Car season title

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POMONA, Calif. (AP) Ron Capps won his first NHRA Mello Yello Series Funny Car season title Saturday at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

Capps earned enough points in qualifying in the NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T to build an insurmountable lead over Matt Hagan.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Capps said. “I almost gave up, not winning a championship, but trying so hard and wishing so hard, and just focused on winning races and all the accolades I’ve gotten this year especially the 50th win, passing some people I really looked up to in the sport. That’s mind boggling to me every time I’m mentioned with those names.

“We got to the Countdown with a big lead and I thought, `OK, now we really got a shot at this.’ We said at the beginning of the year this is the toughest Funny Car class ever. Then it was the 50th anniversary of the Funny Car, which was awesome. It just kept snowballing. We kept digging and digging and digging and Rahn Tobler just had that eye.”

Jack Beckman led Funny Car qualifying with the second-quickest Funny Car pass in NHRA history, a 3.825 at 332.10 in a Dodge Charger R/T. J.R. Todd was the fastest in Top Fuel with a 3.680 at 327.82. Points leader Jason Line topped the Pro Stock field at 6.545 at 211.33 in a Chevrolet Camaro, and Jerry Savoie led in Pro Stock Motorcycle at 6.825 at 194.97 on a Suzuki.

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

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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.