MRTI: Colton Herta takes Indy Lights pole at Watkins Glen

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Colton Herta will start on pole for the season finale of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at Watkins Glen International. Herta’s best lap of 1:32.439 was more than three tenths of a second quicker than second-place Santi Urrutia, whose best lap came in at 1:32.795.

For Herta, this is his seventh pole of 2017 and comes at the end of a year that seen a lot of speed from the 17-year-old, but a string of inconsistent finishes and bad luck hampered his overall championship efforts

“I think it’s just been a lot of me gaining my confidence in the races. We’ve been quick all year. We’ve had a lot of poles this year, but just haven’t quite gotten it done in the races. But, we have a car for the race, we were really quick on old tires, and we were obviously quick on new tires. So, it should be good,” Herta told NBC Sports after qualifying.

The aforementioned Urrutia will flank Herta on the front row. Aaron Telitz, Nico Jamin, and Zachary Claman De Melo completed the top five. Champion-elect Kyle Kaiser, who need only start Sunday morning’s race to clinch the 2017 Indy Lights championship, qualified tenth.

Qualifying results are below. Sunday morning’s race begins at 10:50 a.m.

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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.