Ken Roczen rebounds from recent illness to win Supercross Round 15

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Ken Roczen shook off the lethargy and won for the first time Sunday night since Supercross season restarted at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

Battling a shingles virus that was diagnosed last week, Roczen snatched the lead from Cooper Webb three minutes into the main event and cruised to a victory by more than 2 seconds.

Webb finished second Sunday ahead of points leader Eli Tomac, who has a 24-point lead on Roczen with two races remaining.

POINTS, RESULTS: All the postrace statistics from Sunday in Supercross

“It’s a big, big turnaround obviously after the last couple of races,” Roczen told NBCSN. “That’s not easy to do. But I just had fun out here. We got the bike dialed, and my physical conditions were a lot better today. Won the heat race, won the main.

“This was awesome battle. I really geled with the track and with the bike.”

After finishing third in Supercross’ May 31 return, Roczen had struggled to a fifth, 10th and fifth in the past three races as the Honda rider struggled with the energy-sapping illness and faded in the second half.

Last Friday, he disclosed in an Instagram post that he tested positive June 7 for shingles, a viral infection with symptoms including painful rashes and fatigue.

Roczen also has been battling respiratory problems throughout the season.

Roczen moved back into second in the standings ahead of Webb, who got the holeshot and led the first few minutes.

I got a great start in the main, but Kenny was riding well,” Webb told NBCSN. “I knew he was a little faster. When he got by me, I was just going to try to pace him, and I thought with his physical condition and stuff, he was maybe going to fade halfway. So I stayed in there, but he stayed on it the whole time. He rode great.

Eli Tomac maintained a comfortable lead in the points standings with his fifth consecutive podium finish in Salt Lake City, Utah (Feld Entertainment, Inc.).

“We’ll look to regroup. The track definitely was tough with a lot of flat turns, different than what we’re used to. We’ll come back in two days and try to get the top step.”

In Round 16, Webb will try to win for the third consecutive Wednesday night and continue his podium streak in Salt Lake City.

Through five of seven races that will finish the season in Salt Lake City, Roczen, Webb (two victories) and Tomac (two) have captured all the checkered flags.

Tomac could clinch his first 450 championship with a victory Wednesday and seemed happy with his sixth consecutive podium Sunday.

“Overall it was a good race,” Tomac told NBCSN. “I felt really in the groove up until about halfway and then got squirrelly in the whoops and was missing out on the left side of them. I felt I could have made a lot of time in them. Went a little conservative after halfway, and that was about it.

“Good night for us, third will be OK for now.”

Malcolm Stewart, who finished fifth in the 450 class Sunday, was sporting a Black Lives Matter patch on his uniform (Feld Entertainment, Inc.).

In the 250 class, Austin Forkner made a championship statement by shoving Dylan Ferrandis out of the lead on the way to take the victory.

Forkner, who was bumped aside by the points leader in events at Oakland and San Diego earlier this season, trails Ferrandis by seven points entering the season finale.

“The roles were reversed this time,” Forkner told NBCSN. “So I was the chaser this time, where as it’s usually been him. He had all the pressure on him.

“I felt really good. That race was one of the best races I’ve ever raced as far as Supercross. My speed was super good. I was really patient. The track was pretty easy to make a mistake, those two tight little turns were glass. I waited for an opening. It wasn’t much of an opening. I had to cut the turn pretty tight and make a pretty aggressive pass, but he would have done the same thing. He’s done the same thing to me. So all’s fair. It’s racing.”

Ferrandis hung on for second place and blamed himself for opening the door by misjudging a double jump because he misread the color of a flag.

“I can’t complain,” Ferrandis said of Forkner’s move. “I did it once before. So I’m not one to judge if it was clean or not. This race was just bad for me. Definitely a bad race.”

Jett Lawrence, 16, finished third — his first podium in his fifth career 250 start. “Once I got to the finish line, I can admit I cried a little bit,” Lawrence said. “All the time and work put into this. Even though it’s a third, I’d rather win, but I’m just thankful I’m alive right now and able to experience this.”

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)