Ken Roczen angry with Cooper Webb after Daytona: ‘I think he’s scared of me’

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An extremely tight Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship battle between Ken Roczen and Cooper Webb became even more caustic and combustible Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.

After a fourth-place finish on his No. 94 Honda in Round 9 left him clinging to a two-point lead in the championship standings, Roczen was angry at Webb after the riders nearly made contact in the first turn on the opening lap of the 450 main event.

“I got a really good start, and Webb just pushed me really wide into the Tuff Blox, which caused me to lose a bunch of spots,” Roczen told Daniel Blair on NBCSN. “I think he’s scared of me. That’s why he plays these kind of games, but little does he know I like to play as well.

“So from here on out, I’m going to put in that little bit of extra focus on a daily basis – even at home – to speed up much better on the weekend. He’s just fueling the fire and I’m ready for it.”

Webb, who nipped Aaron Plessinger in the last few hundred yards for second place, blew off Roczen’s claim in a postrace news conference.

“I had a great start,” Webb said. “Me, (Roczen) and Eli were all right there. Eli was on my inside. Kenny was on my outside, so I kind of just went through the middle there and wanted to make sure I could get ahead of Ken. Just made the move right there and fell in behind Eli.”

Ken Roczen spent much of Saturday at Daytona trying to make up positions and time (Feld Entertainment Inc./Align Media).

“(Roczen) was running his mouth (after the race). But I didn’t really hear what he said on the podium. He wasn’t too pumped, but I’m not sure why. I saw an opening and went for it. He’s really focusing on himself this year, and clearly, he showed how much he’s focusing on himself.”

While Webb stayed in the top four for the next 20 minutes Roczen seesawed through the top 10. At one point near midrace, he had passed Malcolm Stewart for fourth and was closing the gap on Webb. But he missed a jump and fell behind Stewart.

“I had to make a bunch of passes in the beginning, and I messed up in that rhythm big time and had to roll a bunch and Malcolm went back by me, so I had to get by him and latched onto Webb but just wasn’t enough,” Roczen said. “But other than that I had fun racing out here. It’s all good. We’re out here with my family and having a lot of fun so can’t wait for Dallas.”

Cooper Webb scored his fourth consecutive podium Saturday (Feld Entertainment, Inc./Align Media).

Last year, Eli Tomac took the points lead for good with his Daytona victory, leading by three points heading into a two-month break for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

After his second victory this season Saturday at Daytona International Speedway  (where he tied Ricky Carmichael’s victory record), Tomac now is 24 points behind with eight races remaining – two tripleheaders in Arlington, Texas, and Hampton, Georgia (at Atlanta Motor Speedway) before a two-night stand in Salt Lake City, Utah, to close the season.

Roczen, who has nine consecutive top fives to start 2021, sounds confident he can maintain the points lead and join Tomac as a new 450 champion for the second consecutive season.

“(Webb) got this one round, and the points have closed up a little bit, and we’ve got plenty of racing to go,” Roczen said. “So yeah. I like to play, so let’s go. I’m going to focus hard and bring it on the weekends.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.