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.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.