WATCH LIVE and notes: IndyCar at Long Beach (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Photo: IndyCar

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Coverage of the second round of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, takes place today starting at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via (stream link here).

The race sets up as one of the more intriguing ones with Helio Castroneves on the pole in the No. 3 AAA Team Penske Chevrolet, ahead of five Hondas.

Meanwhile the fastest driver in the morning warmup and defending race winner, Simon Pagenaud, will start 21st and last after a penalty assessed for impeding Castroneves in the first round of qualifying.

The first eight drivers on the grid, plus Pagenaud in last and 13th-starting Ed Jones, the lone rookie in the field although the 2015 Indy Lights race winner, will start on Firestone’s red sidewall alternate tires for the race, while the remaining 11 drivers will start on the primary black sidewall tires.

Rick Allen will be in the booth with Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller will be in pit lane.

Coverage will run from 1 to 4 p.m. PT and local time, so 4 to 7 p.m. ET.

Among the things to look out for in the race and the broadcast:

  • Conor Daly got to look at cars from the “Fast & Furious” franchise earlier this week, and this will be highlighted during the pre-race show.
  • The race will be 85 laps, up five from last year. It remains likely a two-stop race, although a chance to run flat out on three is possible if some teams further down the order go off sequence.
  • Here’s quick thoughts from Will Power and James Hinchcliffe on that topic: Said Power: “It will take one yellow to make it a two-stop running start, I think. Even so, like seven laps or 10 laps. You still got to have people go through a big fuel save, or if there’s a yellow, just be the same with the rules. You know, it’s really enjoyable when someone does three, if you are the person that does three, you just out (indiscernible) everyone with one extra stop. That’s a fun race. So I’m hoping it’s like that.” Said Hinchcliffe: “It’s very possible still on two stops with saving. So we need a yellow to really kind of spice it up. I know we managed to go without a yellow last year, which was pretty impressive. Realistically it probably should have been shortened by five laps, like by 15, yeah. I commend IndyCar for trying to address the issue because we did talk about this last year, but unfortunately we just missed it. I really hope that there’s some yellow early in the race to throw some strategy.”

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
Align Media

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.