Past champions, rookies highlight 2019 Indy 500 entry list

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials revealed an initial entry list of 36 cars for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (Sunday, May 26 on NBC).

The entry list features many familiar faces, as well as 7 rookie drivers looking to make the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time. COTA winner Colton Herta leads the talented rookie class, which also features Felix Rosenqvist, Marcus Ericsson, Santino Ferrucci, Patricio O’Ward, Jordan King and Ben Hanley.

2001, 2002 and 2009 winner Helio Castroneves, who moved to full-time IMSA competition in 2018, will once again return to the Brickyard. The Brazillian hopes to take his No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet to what would be a record-tying fourth victory.

Other past winners on the entry list include Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016), Takuma Sato (2017), and defending race champion Will Power.

Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso and McLaren are back as well, with Alonso driving the No. 66 entry. The Spaniard, who led 27 laps in his sole Indy 500 appearance in 2017, looks to complete his quest for auto racing’s “Triple Crown”, having won the Grand Prix of Monaco in 2006 and 2007, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year.

Other entries of interest include current IndyCar points leader Josef Newgarden, with Shell V-Power sponsorship on his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet, and Marco Andretti, who looks to finally end the “Andretti Curse” on the 50th anniversary of his grandfather Mario’s Indy win in 1969. Marco will sport a livery similar to Mario’s winning Brawner Hawk/Ford entry.

Two entries currently do not have announced drivers as of Wednesday’s announcement, with the No. 32 Juncos Racing and No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teams to announce their respective drivers at a later date.

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.