Prost snatches Miami ePrix win; Speed second in Formula E’s U.S. opener


MIAMI – Nicolas Prost, son of four-time World Champion Alain, has snatched a dramatic victory in the fifth round of the inaugural FIA Formula E Championship at the Miami ePrix, courtesy of a pass for the lead on the second-to-last lap of the 39-lap race.

As leader Daniel Abt (No. 66 Audi Sport ABT) slowed to conserve energy to make it to the finish, Prost (No. 8 e.dams Renault) made it past in Turn 8 to lead onto the start straight.

Not long after, Scott Speed (No. 28 Andretti Autosport) made it through on the inside of Abt into Turn 1 for second. Despite hounding Prost for the lead on the final lap, the American came up just short at 0.433 of a second off the win in his first open-wheel race in years. Prost started third, and Speed 10th, on the afternoon.

Prost becomes the fifth different winner in as many FE races; Speed scores a home podium as an American driver, in the first of two U.S. races, in the Andretti Sports Marketing-promoted event; Abt came home third for his first podium in the series.

The win is Prost’s first in FE, but not his first in America; he is a past two-time overall winner of Petit Le Mans with the Rebellion Racing organization.

Much of the race changed during the pit stop cycle to change cars, as you’d expect, and the erstwhile leaders fell a bit through the pack as a result.

Polesitter Jean-Eric Vergne (No. 27 Andretti Autosport) led the opening 18 laps, but never by too much with Sam Bird (No. 2 Virgin Racing) and Prost hounding him and staying within a few tenths.

Vergne, despite being one of three FanBoost recipients (Bruno Senna, Salvador Duran the others), still burned through his available energy faster than the rest of the field on the first sequence.

A lap after Vergne made a fairly noticeable lockup when his battery life was under 10 percent, Bird and Prost had a bit more in hand. Bird made it past Vergne for the lead on the inside at Turn 5 on Lap 19.

That lap opened the pit stop sequence with Vergne, Abt, and at least eight others making their stop to change cars.

Prost, Speed and Bird, among others, pitted a lap later on Lap 20, with the last two drivers, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Nick Heidfeld stopping on Lap 21.

Abt inherited the lead following the pit stop sequence on Lap 23, ahead of Prost, Lucas di Grassi, Vergne and Speed. Bird fell to seventh and was never back in contention due to energy issues.

Speed passed his teammate a lap later as Vergne’s car began to fade, and with more energy to burn, Speed was able to charge closer to the podium trio. Abt, meanwhile, had burned through more energy earlier in his stint and had to drive slower to conserve it to the finish, which ultimately cost him.

By Lap 33, just 1.4 seconds covered the top four and a lap later, Speed made it past di Grassi for third. On Lap 36 the top three were separated by under eight tenths of a second, and it built to the crescendo of the final three laps.

Prost made the pass on Abt at Turn 8, with Speed following through shortly thereafter for second. That trio maintained the gap to the checkered flag.

Jerome d’Ambrosio (No. 7 Dragon Racing), who started eighth, ran a quiet but solid race en route to a season-best fourth – his third top-six in five races.

Piquet Jr. (No. 99 China Racing), who fell back from second on the start, salvaged a fifth place and valuable championship points.

Two drivers who turned in barnburner efforts from the back of the field were Antonio Felix da Costa (No. 55 Amlin Aguri) and Loic Duval (No. 6 Dragon Racing), ending sixth and seventh after starting 16th and 18th on the grid.

Bird ended eighth, ahead of di Grassi and Duran. Senna and Stephane Sarrazin retired; Vergne, meanwhile, struggled to 18th and retired with two laps to go with overheating issues.

Prost, courtesy of the win, has unofficially taken over the points lead from di Grassi. His e.dams Renault team should well extend its lead in the Team’s Championship.

The series resumes on April 4 in Long Beach, on a truncated version of the Grand Prix circuit, for the second U.S. race.

Unofficial results from Round 5 are linked here.

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)