Scott McLaughlin will start on pole at Indy for iRacing Challenge finale

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Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske will lead the 33-car field to the green today as the IndyCar iRacing Challenge concludes at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

McLaughlin, the two-time Supercars champion who won the second round at Barber Motorsports Park, qualified first Friday with a 228.241-mph lap on the 2.5-mile oval that bested Formula One McLaren’s Lando Norris (228.201 mph), who will start second.

NASCAR and Rallycross veteran Scott Speed qualified third. Graham Rahal was the highest-qualifying full-time IndyCar driver in fourth.

QUALIFYING: Click here to see Friday’s results

TODAY’S FINALE: All the details to watch the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Indy

McLaughlin and Norris, who became eligible for the race by winning at Circuit of The Americas last week, have yet to make a real-life IndyCar start. Though a proficient sim racer, Norris has limited experience on ovals.

McLaughlin’s No. 40 Dallara is one of five Penske entries. Teammates Simon Pagenaud (who won the series’ previous two races on ovals) and Will Power are tied for the unofficial points lead after five races.

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves also has returned for the finale, and defending series champion Josef Newgarden will be driving his No. 1 Chevrolet.

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.