Magnussen leads Day 3 in Jerez

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Don’t adjust your monitors: you’re reading this headline correctly.

Kevin Magnussen, not his father Jan, is atop a Formula One session for the first time in his career. Except in this case, it’s only day three of F1’s first official preseason test in Jerez, and there still weren’t a ton of laps turned.

Nonetheless, the 21-year-old Danish rookie put the McLaren MP4-29 on the top of the timesheets for the second straight day, after Jenson Button was quickest on Wednesday. The younger “Mags” clocked in a flier of 1:23.276, about eight tenths faster than what Button set on day two.

Fellow Mercedes engine runners Felipe Massa (Williams) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) were also realistically in range of the leaders, at half a second and seven tenths of a second behind, respectively.

Elsewhere Renault’s struggles continued; Jean-Eric Vergne managed 30 laps in the new Toro Rosso while former teammate Daniel Ricciardo turned in only three in the Red Bull with further technical problems.

“We worked hard yesterday to make the changes it was felt were necessary to overcome the problems we identified and we were hopeful of a more successful day today,” Red Bull’s race engineering coordinator Andy Damerum said, via Formula One’s official website.

Things were worse down Sauber’s way, where Adrian Sutil crashed at Turn 7. Sutil’s car snapped while going in a straight line following an upshift from third to fourth gear.

Marussia’s new MR03 Ferrari made its first public appearance with Max Chilton behind the wheel, but didn’t post an official lap time.

The fourth and final day of F1’s first test of the new year occurs Friday in Jerez.

1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 23.276s, 52 Laps
2. Felipe Massa, Williams-Mercedes, 1m 23.700s, 47
3. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1m 23.952s, 62 
4. Jenson Button, McLaren-Mercedes, 1m 25.030s, 40
5. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1m 25.495s, 58 
6. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India-Mercedes, 1m 26.096s, 17 
7. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso-Renault, 1m 29.915s, 30
8. Adrian Sutil, Sauber-Ferrari, 1m 30.161s, 34 
9. Robin Frijns, Caterham-Renault, No time, 10
10. Max Chilton, Marussia-Ferrari, No time, 5
11. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull-Renault, No time, 3

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway