Ken Roczen wins Motocross Round 2 at Thunder Valley MX with ‘perfect day’


After missing the 2020 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, Ken Roczen won Round 2 at Thunder Valley MX Park with a sweep of both motos while Justin Cooper took the overall results win in the 250 class.

In a preseason press conference, Roczen questioned how prepared he would be for the 2021 season. An answer was suggested in Round 1 after he won the second moto and was emphatically answered with his third consecutive moto win and first overall victory of the season.

“What a perfect day,” Ken Roczen told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “Especially after last weekend, getting back into the swing of things. It seems like I’m slowly starting to be my old self.”

Moto 1 featured a back and forth battle between Roczen, last week’s winner Dylan Ferrandis and Adam Cianciarulo.

Roczen held the lead early before losing positions to the other two riders. Rather than settle for a solid podium finish, Roczen battled back. There was no question that Roczen would win the second moto after he grabbed the lead from Cooper Webb on the first lap and did not look back.

This is only the second time since 2016 that Roczen posted a 1-1. He last swept a weekend at Unadilla in 2019. But his moto wins in 2019 were unexpected as he had not scored one in six weeks and he was not in championship contention. With a second-place finish at Fox Raceway and his win at Thunder Valley, Roczen now has to believe he is in the battle.

With a 2-2, Dylan Ferrandis finished second overall. In the process, Ferrandis lost the points lead by one to Roczen.

“It’s the second race in a row that I’m on the box, so that’s good,” Ferrandis said. “I feel like maybe I’m a guy who can chase the championship.”

Adam Cianciarulo overcame last week’s bitter disappointment and an 11th-place finish in the overall. His third-place finish in Moto 1 was followed by a sixth-place finish in Moto 2 and third overall. Still, his afternoon was marred by a fall in Moto 2 when he gently laid his bike down and fell out of the top five.

“I’m really excited after last weekend to have a solid result to build on,” Cianciarulo said. “I think it’s really important early in the season to get up here and kind of build. Last week was obviously a huge bummer for me.”

Justin Barcia was fourth overall with a 7-3, while Aaron Plessinger rounded out the top five with a 5-4.

450 results (moto finish)

  1. Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda (1-1)
  2. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha (2-2)
  3. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki (3-6)
  4. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS (7-3)
  5. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha (5-4)
  6. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda (4-5)
  7. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha (6-7)
  8. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM (8-8)
  9. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM (9-9)
  10. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki (11-10)

450 points standings

  1. Ken Roczen, Germany, Honda – 90
  2. Dylan Ferrandis, France, Yamaha – 89
  3. Aaron Plessinger, Hamilton, Ohio, Yamaha – 74
  4. Justin Barcia, Monroe, N.Y., GASGAS – 69
  5. Chase Sexton, La Moille, Ill., Honda – 67
  6. Adam Cianciarulo, Port Orange, Fla., Kawasaki – 58
  7. Cooper Webb, Newport, N.C., KTM – 52
  8. Christian Craig, El Cajon, Calif., Yamaha – 51
  9. Marvin Musquin, France, KTM – 51
  10. Eli Tomac, Cortez, Colo., Kawasaki – 46

In the 250s, Cooper scored the overall victory after finishing second in both motos.

Cooper was happy for the points that go with the overall win, but disappointed he had been beaten in both motos.

“I’m happy, but not happy,” Cooper told NBC Sports’ Will Christien after the race. “Not the way I want to do it. Two-two for a win is awesome, but at the same time I should have won one. Jett (Lawrence) was riding really good in that second moto and I was definitely trying to push the pace with him.

“He tested my strength out there. It took all I had to keep it upright after he passed me.”

The winner of Moto 1, Jeremy Martin crashed in the second race and injured his arm only hours after his brother Alex Martin sustained a broken arm in practice.

One reason for Cooper’s displeasure was that he got passed by Jett Lawrence with an aggressive pass in Moto 2. Lawrence clipped Cooper’s front wheel with his rear wheel and both riders might easily have ended on the ground.

Combined with a fourth-place finish in the first race, Lawrence lost only one point to Cooper at Thunder Valley and now has a 10-popint advantage over him in the championship chase.

“The boys in the first (race) were just on it,” Lawrence described his fourth-place finish in Moto 1. “I was trying my hardest and they were just faster. I have nothing to say. No excuses.

(In Race 2), I was just hoping the track would get a little rougher and I just got that start. I ended up executing that. It was fun. I had fun with Cooper the first few laps. We were really going for it. He was really hooking. It was hard to keep up with him, but I was able to study him a little bit and then find out where I could make a pass.

“I did not want to get that close on that pass. I started sliding, but I knew if I shut off I’m done, so I’m committing.”

Hunter Lawrence finished third overall with a 5-3 marking the first time the brothers from Australia both stood on a podium in Motocross.

“Still a lot of work to be done,” Hunter said. “Still building. Still not quite there at the top yet.”

Jo Shimoda had to overcome slow starts to both motos to finish fourth overall with a 6-4.

Colt Nichols rounded out the top five with a 9-5.

250 results (moto finish)

  1. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha (2-2)
  2. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda (4-1)
  3. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda (5-3)
  4. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki (6-4)
  5. Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha (9-5)
  6. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha (7-7)
  7. Jalek Swoll, Belleview, Fla., Husqvarna (10-6)
  8. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha (1-40)
  9. Dilan Schwartz, Alpine, Calif., Suzuki (8-12)
  10. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna (3-19)

250 points standings

  1. Jett Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 90
  2. Justin Cooper, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Yamaha – 80
  3. Jeremy Martin, Millville, Minn., Yamaha – 72
  4. Hunter Lawrence, Australia, Honda – 67
  5. Garrett Marchbanks, Coalville, Utah, Yamaha – 56
  6. RJ Hampshire, Hudson, Fla., Husqvarna – 54
  7. Jo Shimoda, Japan, Kawasaki – 50
  8. Colt Nichols, Muskogee, Okla., Yamaha – 49
  9. Austin Forkner, Richards, Mo., Kawasaki – 48
  10. Michael Mosiman, Sebastopol, Calif., GASGAS – 46


Round 1: Dylan Ferrandis, Jett Lawrence victorious at Fox Raceway

Tony Kanaan at peace with IndyCar career end: ‘I’ll always be an Indianapolis 500 winner’


INDIANAPOLIS – Few drivers in Indy 500 history have been as popular as Tony Kanaan.

Throughout his career at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that began with his first Indy 500 in 2002, the fans loved his aggressiveness on the track and his engaging personality with the fans.

The Brazilian always got the loudest cheers from the fans during driver introductions before the Indy 500.

Sunday’s 107th Indianapolis 500 would be his last time to walk up the steps for driver introductions. Kanaan announced earlier this year that it would be his final race of his IndyCar career, but not the final race as a race driver.

He will continue to compete in stock cars in Brazil and in Tony Stewart’s summer series known as the “Superstar Racing Experience” – an IROC-type series that competes at legendary short tracks around the country beginning in June.

Kanaan was the extra driver at Arrow McLaren for this year’s Indy 500 joining NTT IndyCar Series regulars Pato O’Ward of Mexico, Felix Rosenqvist of Sweden, and Alexander Rossi of northern California.

He had a sporty ride, the No. 66 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet that paid homage to McLaren’s first Indianapolis 500 victory by the late Mark Donohue for Team Penske in 1972.

Because Kanaan has meant so much to the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT IndyCar Series, the 2013 Indy 500 winner was honored before the start of the race with a special video.

It featured Kanaan sitting in the Grandstand A seats writing a love letter to the fans of this great event. Kanaan narrated the video, reciting the words in the letter and it finished with the driver putting it in an envelope and leaving it at the Yard of Bricks.

Lauren Kanaan with daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Bruce Martin Photo).

Many in the huge crowd of 330,000 fans watched the video on the large screens around the speedway. On the starting grid, Kanaan’s wife, Lauren, who bears a striking resemblance to actress Kate Beckinsale, watched with their four children.

Kanaan’s wife is an Indiana girl who was a high school basketball star in Cambridge City, Indiana.

Kanaan proposed to Lauren in 2010, and after a three-year engagement, they were married in 2013 – the year he won his only Indianapolis 500.

She has been Kanaan’s rock, and this was a moment for the family to share.

After receiving an ovation and the accolades from the crowd, Kanaan walked to his car on the starting grid and exchanged hugs with people who were important in his career.

One of those was Takuma Sato’s engineer at Chip Ganassi Racing, Eric Cowdin.

Tony Kanaan shares a moment with former engineer Eric Cowdin (Bruce Martin Photo).

Kanaan and Cowdin shared a longtime relationship dating all the way back to the Andretti Green Racing days when Kanaan was a series champion in 2004. This combination stayed together when Kanaan moved to KV Racing in 2011, then Chip Ganassi Racing from 2014-2018 followed by two years at AJ Foyt Racing.

Kanaan returned to run the four oval races for Chip Ganassi Racing in 2021 in the No. 48 Honda that was shared with seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

In 2022, Johnson ran the full IndyCar Series schedule, and Kanaan drove the No. 1 American Legion entry to a third-place finish in his only IndyCar race of the season.

Kanaan knew that 2023 would be his last Indy 500 and properly prepared himself mentally and emotionally for his long goodbye.

But one could sense the heartfelt love, gratitude, and most of all respect for this tenacious driver in the moments leading up to the start of the race.

Tony Kanaan gets emotional during an interview after the Indy 500 (Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“The emotions are just there,” Kanaan said. “I cried 400 times. This guy came to hug me, and I made Rocket (IndyCar Technical Director Kevin Blanch) cry. I mean, that is something.

“Yeah, it was emotional.”

Kanaan started ninth and finished 18th in a race that was very clean for the first two thirds of the race before ending in disjointed fashion with three red flags to stop the race over the final 15 laps.

“Yellows breed yellows and when you are talking about the Indianapolis 500 and a field that is so tough to pass, that happens,” Kanaan said. “It’s the Indy 500. Come on. We’ve got to leave it out there.

“Every red flag, everybody goes, I’m going to pass everybody. It’s tough to pass. It’s the toughest field, the tightest field we ever had here. It was going to happen. We knew it was going to happen.

“I wouldn’t want it any different. We left it all out there. Everybody that was out left it out.”

At one point in the second half of the race, Kanaan passed Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin by driving through the grass on the backstretch.

“That was OK, right?” Kanaan said. “That is one thing I have not done in 22 years here. Even (team owner) Sam Schmidt came to me and said, ‘That was a good one.’

“That was a farewell move.”

On the final lap, it was Kanaan battling his boyhood friend from Brazil, four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, for a mid-pack finish.

“Helio and I battling for 15th and 16th on the last lap like we’re going for the lead,” Kanaan said. “It was like, who’s playing pranks with us.

“We both went side by side on the backstretch after the checker and we saluted with each other, and I just told him actually I dropped a tear because of that, and he said, ‘I did, too.’

“We went side by side like twice. A lot of memories came to my mind, and I even said how ironic it is that we started it together and I get to battle him on the last lap of my last race.

Tony Kanaan is embraced by his wife, Lauren, after finishing 16th in the 107th Indianapolis 500 ((Mykal McEldowney/IndyStar/ USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“It’s pretty neat. It’s a pretty cool story. He’s a great friend. My reference, a guy that I love and hate a lot throughout my career, and like he just told me — I was coming up here and he just said, who am I going to look on the time sheet when I come into the pits now, because we always said that it didn’t matter if I was — if I was 22nd and he was 23rd, my day was okay. And vice versa.

“It was a good day for me, man. What can I say? We cried on the grid.

“Not the result that we wanted. I went really aggressive on the downforce to start the race. It was wrong. Then I added downforce towards the end of the race, and it was wrong. It was just one of those days.”

After the race was over, Kanaan drove his No. 66 Honda back to the Arrow McLaren pit area and climbed out of the car to cheers of the fans that could see him. Others were focused on Josef Newgarden’s wild celebration after the Team Penske driver had won his first Indianapolis 500.

There were no tears, though, only smiles from Kanaan who closes an IndyCar career with 389 starts, 17 wins including the 2013 Indianapolis 500, 79 podiums, 13 poles, and 4,077 laps led in a 26-year career.

Kanaan came, he raced, and he raced hard.

“That’s what we did, we raced as hard as we could,” Kanaan told NBC “It wasn’t enough.

“The win was the only thing that mattered. If we were second or 16th, we were going to celebrate regardless.

“In a way, being 16th will stop people wondering if I’m going to come back.

“I’m ready to go. I’m ready to enjoy the time with my family, with my team and doing other things as well.”

Kanaan’s face will forever be part of the Borg-Warner Trophy as the winner of the Indianapolis 500.

“I won one and that is there, and it will always be there,” Kanaan said. “It was an awesome day.

“The way this crowd made me feel was unbelievable. I don’t regret a bit.”

Tony Kanaan hugs his son Max before the Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar/USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

Kanaan actually announced the 2020 Indianapolis 500 would be TK’s last ride because he wanted to say goodbye to the fans.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 hit, the Indianapolis 500 was moved from Memorial Day Weekend to August 23 and because of COVID restrictions, fans were not allowed to attend the Indianapolis 500.

Three years later, Kanaan was finally able to say goodbye to this fans that were part of the largest crowd to see the Indianapolis 500 since the sold-out gathering for 350,000 that attended the 100th running in 2016.

“That’s it, that’s what I wanted, and I got what I wanted,” Kanaan said. “This moment was so special; I don’t want to ever spoil it again.

Tony Kanaan kisses his daughter Nina before the 107th Indy 500 (Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network).

“We’ve been building and growing this series as much as we can. I’m really glad and proud that I was able to be part of building something big and this year’s race was one of the biggest ones.”

Kanaan walked off pit lane and rejoined his family. He will always be part of the glorious history of the Indianapolis 500 and fans will be talking about Tony Kanaan years from now, not by what he did, but the way he did it.

“This is what it is all about,” Kanaan said on pit lane. “Having kids, be a good person. Even if you don’t win, it’s fine if you don’t, as long as you make a difference.

“Hopefully, I made a difference in this sport.

“I will always be an IndyCar driver. I will always be an Indy 500 winner and I will always make people aware of IndyCar in the way it deserves.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

(Jenna Watson/IndyStar / USA TODAY Sports Images Network)