James Hinchcliffe fine after crashing in Indy 500 qualifying

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James Hinchcliffe walked away safely from a crash during Indianapolis 500 qualifying Saturday afternoon, but his primary car for the race suffered massive damage.

The driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara-Honda was on the second lap of his qualifying attempt when his car got loose in Turn 2 and made contact with the SAFER barrier. The car then caught air and nearly flipped before coming back down and spinning to a halt.

Hinchliffe immediately received attention from the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team. After climbing out of the car unscathed, he was quickly checked and released from the infield care center and cleared to drive by Dr. Geoffrey Billows, IndyCar medical director.

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“The car was on the edge for sure,” Hinchcliffe told NBC Sports. “We were a little loose in (turns) 3 and 4, but 1 and 2 was solid so I was sort of planning to dial some understeer in on the north side of the track on that lap, but something just caught me in [turn] two. I don’t know if it was a gust of wind or what. We’ve been pretty aggressive on the setup and with a gusty day, that’s what happens. Pretty much our nightmare.”

Though Hinchcliffe was unsure of whether his backup car would be ready to return to the track Saturday, a feverish effort by his SPM crew had the backup car back in the tech line a couple of hours later. He returned to the track less than three hours after the wreck, but his team waved off the attempt as he shook the car down.

“I’ve got a lot of faith in the No. 5 Arrow guys. We’re going to get this car or another car back together and go take another shot,” Hinchcliffe said.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has not been kind to Hinchcliffe over the last few years. The Canadian driver was seriously injured after a crash during practice for the 2015 race. Last year, he was one of two drivers that failed to qualify for the race.

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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.