Red Bull GRC: Scott Speed scores third win of 2014 in Los Angeles Race 1

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcfijeIVK1M

A victory for Scott Speed, another podium for Ken Block, and a major setback for Nelson Piquet Jr. has tightened up the Red Bull Global Rallycross championship after the first of two races this weekend at the Port of Los Angeles.

Speed grabbed the holeshot in today’s final and went on to lead Joni Wiman and Block across the stripe, earning his third win of the season and his first since the X Games in Austin.

MORE: Full Race Replay – Red Bull Global Rallycross: Los Angeles, Race 1

But Piquet did not make the final after being knocked out of his semifinal heat early with wall contact and then failing to make it out of the Last Chance Qualifier.

As a result, Block has pulled into a tie with Piquet for the championship lead at 248 points and Speed is just two points behind them. Wiman is also in the hunt at just 10 points back.

Put it all together, and tomorrow’s event in L.A. – which you can watch at 5 p.m. ET on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra – is shaping up to be the most dramatic of the 2014 GRC season so far.

“We’re back to our ways,” Speed told NBCSN after his win. “We’ve had a great weekend with no problems so far, and that’s the result. We’ve still got the speed. These guys are getting closer though, it wasn’t easy. But I couldn’t be happier with our team.”

Block was hoping for more today, but was thrilled to have erased his points deficit to Piquet.

“It’s all about consistency and points at this [juncture], so I’m happy to come away with the podium…My car is nice and clean, I still have some great tires on it, and Nelson had some really bad luck,” Block said.

“That was the really big fear this weekend. If you were to blow a complete race and have damage from the first day that could hinder you on the second day – I mean, your championship’s over. So to come away with a podium and good championship points, I am stoked.”

Semifinal One went as badly as you could imagine for Piquet, who entered this weekend with a 40-point lead in the standings over Block.

Apparent contact with Steve Arpin sent Piquet into the wall just seconds after the start, and the damage to the latter’s Ford Fiesta ST was enough to end his race early.

Up front, Sverre Isachsen took the holeshot and held the lead for the first half of the semi. But around the midway point, Speed took the joker off of Turn 6 and was just able to squeeze past Isachsen when he returned to the main course.

Speed would then hold off Isachsen for the win, while Travis Pastrana captured third to move into the final with them.

Wiman and Block quickly locked horns for the lead in Semifinal Two, with the pair making flush contact with each other on Lap 2. But Block ultimately won the battle for P1 and left Wiman to deal with Daytona winner Rhys Millen for second.

On Lap 4, the New Zealand native managed to dust Wiman with an inside pass for the runner-up spot. In the end, Block, Millen, and Wiman crossed the line in first, second and third respectively to go to the final.

Piquet and his SH Racing Rallycross team were able to make repairs in time to have him compete in the Last Chance Qualifier, but he had to start on the last row. And just like in his semifinal, Piquet was involved in a quick incident; this time, getting into the back of Bucky Lasek and turning him around.

Lasek couldn’t get re-fired and a red flag was thrown. The seven cars were lined up again for a restart, but Emma Gilmour went around in the opening corner and found herself disabled on the curbing.

A local yellow at that part of the track flew, but the race stayed green. Piquet rose as high as fifth, but was passed by Lasek for sixth on the final lap and could not advance to the final. Tanner Foust, Patrik Sandell, Arpin, and Austin Dyne earned the four transfer positions.

The 10-car main event had Isachsen and Sandell fall to the back early, while Dyne suffered an early end to his race with a reported right front assembly problem. Foust was running in the Top 5, but with two to go, he came to a stop as well with smoke billowing from his VW.

However, it was smooth sailing for his Andretti Autosport teammate Speed, who led from start to finish.

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)