Saavedra fined $30,000 and RLL gets more penalties after Detroit

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Emotion got the better of Sebastian Saavedra in the heat of the moment in the first race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual at Detroit. Turns out emotion got the better of his wallet, too.

The Colombian, in his second full season in the IZOD IndyCar Series and driver of the No. 6 TrueCar Chevrolet for Dragon Racing, was fined $30,000 on Thursday for making an improper gesture – the “double angry birds” – toward a fellow competitor. Marco Andretti contacted Saavedra and put him into the wall at the outside of Turn 4.

There is a precedent – Will Power was fined $30,000 for the same offense, directed at INDYCAR  race control at Loudon, N.H. in 2011. Yet interestingly, a dust-up between Power and E.J. Viso at Iowa last year where the two exchanged improper gestures, did not garner a penalty.

This offense is a violation of Rule 9.3.1.8 of the 2013 INDYCAR rulebook, and Saavedra can work off the fine by “by making a series of public appearances on behalf of INDYCAR throughout the remainder of the season.”

Saavedra tweeted shortly thereafter: “Well.. quite an expensive one after @detroitgp I guess ill stop getting my everyday hair massage until I pay it off. Off to @TXMotorSpeedway.”

He wasn’t the only one docked. James Jakes’ Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry was fined a total of $10,000 for two rear wing infractions (Rules 14.6.4.6 and 14.6.4.9). Jakes had his best weekend yet in IndyCar with a second-place finish in race two and two top-five qualifying efforts. The RLL team had also been penalized both after qualifying and in-race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with the latter penalty rescinded by INDYCAR.

Jakes clarified via Twitter that the penalty was a post-qualifying, not post-race, violation: “Just to give everyone heads up it was a post qualifying fine not post race.”

Meanwhile Sebastien Bourdais and Will Power, two former Champ Car rivals, were each placed on probation for their dust-up in the Turn 1 pileup in race two. Power was penalized for improper actions toward a fellow competitor after contact during Race 2 (throwing his race gloves), and Bourdais was penalized for comments made toward Officials on pit road after Race 2. Power, somewhat cheekily, said Bourdais “once was a champ, and now is a chump” in his TV interview after the incident.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)