Formula E: Sebastien Buemi survives late to win in Uruguay

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Sebastien Buemi emerged victorious following a two-lap dash to the checkered flag in this afternoon’s FIA Formula E race at Punta del Este, Uruguay.

A crash with four laps to go involving Andretti’s Matthew Brabham brought out the safety car and bunched up the field for a final run to the finish, with Buemi in first and the other Andretti driver, former F1 pilot Jean-Eric Vergne, in second place.

When racing resumed, Buemi was forced to cut a chicane after locking up going in while trying to hold off Vergne. But later in the same lap, Vergne’s machine suddenly slowed down and came to a halt on course.

The snake-bitten Andretti team indicated on Twitter that a suspension issue was the culprit:

That effectively gave the win to Buemi, the F1 test driver for Red Bull Racing and one-half of the World Endurance Championship driver’s champions with Toyota Hybrid partner Anthony Davidson.

Buemi led home runner-up Nelson Piquet Jr., championship leader Lucas di Grassi in third, Jarno Trulli in fourth, and Jaime Alguersuari in fifth.

“It’s been a very difficult journey so far, because the first two races went worse than expected,” said Buemi, who drives for the e.dams-Renault team in F-E. “But today, we did everything right, so I’m more than happy. I’m delighted for the team. It’s been very difficult and now, we’ve won our first race.”

Vergne made a great first impression in F-E by qualifying on the pole earlier today, but off the start for the 31-lap event, Piquet beat him on the inside into Turn 1 to take the lead for China Racing.

The first safety car of the day came out not too long after that on Lap 4 after Sam Bird, the most recent F-E winner in Malaysia, got crossed up going into the Turn 1 chicane and then jumped over the curbing before hitting the wall. This marked the end of a rough day for the Brit, who had also crashed in qualifying.

Racing resumed at Lap 7 with Vergne continuing to push hard for the lead. But the Frenchman radioed in that he was having problems utilizing his Fan Boost to get past Piquet.

A second safety car period then started at Lap 10 for recovery of the stricken Amlin Aguri machine of Antonio Felix da Costa. Shortly after the green came back out at Lap 12, Vergne got a draft on Piquet and went to the inside for a out-braking move at the hairpin to take the lead at Lap 13.

Vergne’s reign at the front was short-lived, however, as he chose to swap cars in the pits at Lap 16. He ducked in before the safety car emerged for a third time following a crash involving Stephane Sarrazin, who damaged his Venturi car after aggressively going over a curb and then spun out directly in front of Brabham right into the inside wall.

That brought almost everybody else into the pits for car swaps, and when the order shook out, Venturi’s Nick Heidfeld and Buemi had beat out Vergne for first and second.

But after the race restarted at Lap 19, Heidfeld and Top-5 runner Nicolas Prost were both hit with drive-through penalties for using too much power (Prost and Heidfeld would recover to finish seventh and 10th respectively).

Those calls made Buemi the new leader ahead of Vergne in second, Piquet in third, and di Grassi in fourth. Vergne closed down on Buemi and was within a second of him before Brabham’s late incident with four to go.

di Grassi’s third consecutive podium finish enabled him to stretch his driver’s points lead to 18 points over both Buemi and Bird. Meanwhile, Buemi and Prost’s e.dams-Renault have seized the team championship lead by two points over Audi Sport Abt, which runs both di Grassi and Daniel Abt.

The latter driver was stymied by early mechanical problems but still ran the fastest lap in the race and secured two bonus points for himself with that distinction.

The next F-E race comes Jan. 10, 2015 in Buenos Aires.

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)