Meeting of champions: Kurt Busch, Lewis Hamilton take part in Monza rally show (PHOTOS)


Normally the home of Formula One’s Italian Grand Prix, La Pista Magica – Monza – played host to something a bit different this weekend.

The non-championship Monza Rally Show took place over three days, and the event attracted an assortment of top-flight talent from multiple disciplines. One of those drivers was former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, who finished 32nd in his rallying debut.

But while the Outlaw couldn’t find the top of the leaderboard, he was able to meet up with newly-crowned Formula One champ Lewis Hamilton, who did not compete in the main rally but in a special ‘masters show’ on Sunday:

As for Busch’s thoughts on the event, he said in a release from sponsor Monster Energy: “It’s a blast to race in a foreign country and race against some of the world’s best. In the Masters’ Show, I surprised myself in it and I think I closed out my Sunday very strong.”

Hamilton also said that he had a great time, adding that he wanted to “work with my guys to get a car together so I can come back and compete next year – to do some rallying would be great.”

Also among the main rally competitors at Monza were MotoGP icon Valentino Rossi and Red Bull Global Rallycross star/Gymkhana creator Ken Block:

In the end, former F1 pilot Robert Kubica won the rally over Rossi in come from behind fashion. He was down 5.1 seconds to “The Doctor” entering the final stage, but Kubica finished with a flourish and ultimately beat Rossi by 12.5 seconds.

“We took the same tires but I knew already after the first loop that I was quicker than him, for some reason he did not have the same pace as before,” Kubica said in a team release. “I’m very pleased to win, especially for all the guys at the A Style team.

“Yesterday we took the wrong tire choice, which was too hard, but today it was just right. Throughout this rally, the tire choice was very complicated because of the mixed conditions but we managed to get it right most of the time and enjoy a really good fight against a fantastic driver like Valentino, so I am very happy.”

Some more photos from the event:

source: Getty Images
Kurt Busch puts his Ford Fiesta through its paces at Monza. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
Kurt Busch tackles one of the old Monza’s legendary banked turns. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
New F1 champ Lewis Hamilton greets the Monza fans. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
Ken Block, Head Hoonigan in Charge, coming through. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
Valentino Rossi – he’s not bad on four wheels, either. Photo: Getty Images.
source: Getty Images
Your winner of the Monza Rally Show, Robert Kubica. Photo: Getty Images.

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

Grant Larson Turkey Night / DB3 Inc.

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)