Ryan Phinny gets comfortable in first IndyCar test with KV Racing Technology

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KV Racing Technology is yet to name its second driver alongside KVSH Racing driver Sebastien Bourdais, who will be with the team for his second season.

But American rookie hopeful Ryan Phinny has now had his first outing with KV Racing Technology, Monday at Sebring International Raceway’s short course for a one-day test.

Phinny has spoken openly of his ambitions to get into the Verizon IndyCar Series and now with this first test, should be a step closer.

“The situation at the team itself is fantastic,” Phinny told MotorSportsTalk on Monday night. “Leaving today, I feel positive.

“My biggest thing is getting seat time. I feel comfortable and acclimated to the car. It’s drastically different than anything I had driven before, but I’m not over my head.”

Phinny, the 25-year-old Los Angeles resident who would seek to be a rare L.A. native in the series full-time, studied copiously in advance of his first test.

Surprisingly, considering his experience in sports cars and Indy Lights over the last eight to nine years, his test Monday marked his first ever run on Sebring’s short course.

It was also interrupted midday for a mechanical issue that cost him about two and a half hours of running. But thanks to the KV Racing Technology crew, Phinny was able to get back out for the final half hour of the day and bring his lap total north of 40 overall.

“‘I’ve been here, but never on the short course,” Phinny said. “Jumping in a car like this compared to even an LMP or DP car or GT car makes for a drastic difference, but still a great experience.

“Doing the Lights stuff last year, has helped me get ready for this test. It made a lot of sense. I feel confident and I’m thankful the team is happy with me. They’d be the first ones to say if they weren’t.”

Phinny said the biggest adjustment in stepping up from an Indy Lights chassis into an IndyCar is learning the braking on the Dallara DW12, as the car fitted with Brembo’s carbon brakes.

“Primarily the braking is the big thing,” Phinny said. “I’ve driven cars with similar horsepower, but weigh a lot more. But to drive one that’s as light and quick as this, to have the braking power that it has was a cool experience. I spent the first session, session and a half getting acclimated to that. Having all the controls on the steering wheel is really nice.”

KV Racing Technology is yet to decide on a driver for the second car. Stefano Coletti impressed the team in his last test at NOLA Motorsports Park, and Phinny would be another potential rookie candidate in contention for the seat, which is now the No. 4 Chevrolet engineered by Matt Curry.

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)