Red Bull signs Dean Stoneman, Callum Ilott to junior team

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Red Bull has confirmed the signings of British drivers Dean Stoneman (pictured) and Callum Ilott to its junior team for the 2015 racing season.

Following Carlos Sainz Jr’s move up to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso for 2015 and GP3 champion Alex Lynn’s move away to Williams, Stoneman and Ilott have been drafted in as replacements and will receive backing from the energy drink brand for the next twelve months.

Stoneman, 24, broke onto the racing scene back in 2010 by winning the now-defunct FIA Formula 2 championship, earning himself a Formula 1 test with Williams.

However, his motorsport hopes were put on hold when he diagnosed with testicular cancer, preventing him from moving up to Formula Renault 3.5 where he would have been Daniel Ricciardo’s teammate.

After lengthy treatment, Stoneman returned to racing in the British Porsche Carerra Cup and finished fifth in the 2013 championship before racing in the final GP3 round of the season in Abu Dhabi.

For 2014, Stoneman stayed in GP3 with Marussia Manor before moving to Koiranen for the final four races of the year. With five wins, the Briton finished as runner-up to former Red Bull junior Lynn.

Now, he will move across to Formula Renault 3.5 for the 2015 season with DAMS, and was delighted to have finally announced the news.

“To be part of the Red Bull Junior Team has been one of my life goals and it is fantastic to be given the chance,” Stoneman said.

“You just have to look at the names that have gone before to see that only the best drivers get into the programme. I’m thrilled about the year ahead, to be in the DAMS team in World Series is a perfect opportunity.”

16-year-old Callum Ilott will also enjoy Red Bull backing for the new season following his European karting championship victory in 2014. He will move up to the FIA F3 European Championship for his first season in single-seaters, having spent some time out in New Zealand over the past few months racing in the Toyota Winter Series.

“Being in the Red Bull Junior Team is a privilege,” Ilott said. “You just have to look at the history of the drivers that have gone before.

“Last season was very good for me so I was hoping for a good start in cars but I didn’t imagine that I would get this opportunity. I want to make a good impression this year, show my speed early and keep improving.”

Stoneman and Ilott will join Pierre Gasly on the junior programme for 2015, with the Frenchman enjoying his place with the team for a second year after finishing second in last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship. Gasly will race in GP2 this year for DAMS alongside Alex Lynn.

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)