What to watch for: IndyCar at Mid-Ohio (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

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FOUR IN A ROW FOR “DIXIE”?

Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is on the verge of becoming the first driver to win four consecutive races under INDYCAR sanction, and a fifth career win overall at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course can certainly be done from the inside of Row 2.

With Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, the guy in front of him in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, having to start from 14th on the grid, Dixon is in prime position to cut into the Brazilian’s points lead (and for that matter, so is pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport, who needs a big day to bolster his hopes for a second straight series title).

THE UNFORGIVING MID-OHIO

Mid-Ohio has won a reputation for being one of the most challenging road courses in America. Outside of starts and restarts, it can be hard to gain spots on the track at this narrow, undulating 2.26-mile road course – but very easy to lose them.

Keeping track position toward the front will be especially critical, and the drivers will need their pit crews to be sharp. A position or two gained coming out of the pits could mean a lot in the end.

POWER CHARGED UP

Team Penske’s Will Power remains winless in 2013, which is still one of the year’s notable surprises. But while he’s not challenging for a title, that also frees him of having to worry about the big picture.

“I am able to be a little bit more aggressive since we are not in the hunt for a championship like some of the other guys [starting] around me,” he noted after qualifying on the front row yesterday.  And that makes me think he’ll have a say in today’s outcome…

HEY, MR. WILSON

…The same goes for Justin Wilson, who has been reasonably quick throughout the weekend. That was probably expected considering that he and Dale Coyne Racing tested at M-O in June (and did so again in the series’ Open Test on Wednesday).

He narrowly missed out on the Firestone Fast Six on Saturday, but will still start a reasonable seventh on the grid. It also bears noting that he was fastest in this morning’s practice session. A podium finish for Wilson is a distinct possibility this afternoon.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda Indy 200
Starting Grid/Tire Compound

Row 1
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay (ALTERNATE)
12-Will Power (ALTERNATE)

Row 2
9-Scott Dixon (ALTERNATE)
25-Marco Andretti (PRIMARY)

Row 3
83-Charlie Kimball (ALTERNATE)
10-Dario Franchitti (ALTERNATE)

Row 4
19-Justin Wilson (ALTERNATE)
77-Simon Pagenaud (PRIMARY)

Row 5
78-Simona de Silvestro (ALTERNATE)
16-James Jakes (PRIMARY)

Row 6
5-E.J. Viso (PRIMARY)
27-James Hinchcliffe (ALTERNATE)

Row 7
7-Sebastien Bourdais (ALTERNATE)
3-Helio Castroneves (ALTERNATE)

Row 8
14-Takuma Sato (PRIMARY)
18-James Davison (Rookie; ALTERNATE)

Row 9
4-Oriol Servia (PRIMARY)
67-Josef Newgarden (PRIMARY)

Row 10
11-Tony Kanaan (PRIMARY)
6-Sebastian Saavedra (ALTERNATE)

Row 11
*55-Tristan Vautier (Rookie; ALTERNATE)
15-Graham Rahal (ALTERNATE)

Row 12
20-Ed Carpenter (PRIMARY)
98-Luca Filippi (Rookie; ALTERNATE)

*Tristan Vautier has been penalized 10 spots on the grid for an unapproved engine change.

Watch today’s Honda Indy 200 from Mid-Ohio online and on your mobile device.

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)