Jimmie Johnson added to IndyCar iRacing Challenge opener

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Jimmie Johnson will get a head start on his hopes of racing against the stars of IndyCar.

The seven-time NASCAR champion was added Friday to the entry list of Saturday’s IndyCar iRacing Challenge. The opener of the six-race series will be contested at Watkins Glen International.

Incidentally, Johnson is winless at the road course in NASCAR and once had an infamous shunt into the tire barriers during an Xfinity race in August 2000). It’s one of only three tracks (Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway are the others) that he hasn’t conquered in Cup.

Johnson has spent much of his time racing IndyCar on his home simulator, recently explaining that his simulation rig was designed to mimic IndyCar instead of NASCAR.

A relative novice in online stock cars, he made an inauspicious debut in the NASCAR iRacing event at Homestead-Miami Speedway last Sunday, causing a memorable caution and finishing 31st.

 “Not a great showing. I’m going to take all the responsibility,” Johnson said. “I’ve not spent a lot of time in iRacing or really racing at all on sims. So I’m learning my way through that. Lots of things to learn within the race. I didn’t even have a spotter, which seemed to be a problem a couple of times with wrecks, race format, just a lot of race details.”

Johnson has expressed much interest in IndyCar over the past year.

He attended the open test in Austin, Texas, in February and indicated he wanted to run part time in the series after his last full-time season in NASCAR this year. He had been scheduled to test a Chevrolet for Arrow McLaren SP next month at Barber Motorsports Park before the session was canceled

Last week, Johnson tweeted that IndyCar remains on his “bucket list” despite the interruption of the NASCAR season for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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.