Washout mixes up IndyCar’s NOLA grid order

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AVONDALE, La. – Sunday’s inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) will feature a grid based on entrant points rather than practice times.

This has, of course, jumbled the order compared to the form guide witnessed in practice at NOLA Motorsports Park, and also compared to what would have been spots 13-24 had qualifying continued past Q1 on Saturday.

First off, here would have been the positions 13-24 from qualifying Saturday, if qualifying had continued through to its conclusion, and here’s where they will be starting on Sunday based on entrant points:

ELIMINATED IN Q1 (ACTUAL GRID SPOT TO RIGHT):

13. 2-Juan Pablo Montoya, 1:39.8157 (1)
14. 14-Takuma Sato, 1:49.6570 (13)
15. 18-Carlos Huertas, 1:40.1864 (24)
16. 4-Stefano Coletti, 1:50.7713 (20)
17. 3-Helio Castroneves, 1:40.2080 (4)
18. 20-Luca Filippi, 1:51.7934 (9)
19. 25-Simona de Silvestro, 1:40.2154 (18)
20. 98-Gabby Chaves, 1:52.6481 (17)
21. 19-Francesco Dracone, 1:40.6653 (23)
22. 15-Graham Rahal, 1:54.7212 (11)
23. 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 1:41.7573** (6)
24. 41-Jack Hawksworth, 1:55.9655 (8)

Here were the 12 drivers that hypothetically would have advanced into Q2 and then had the chance to run for the Firestone Fast Six from Q2, with their actual grid spot to the right:

1. 10-Tony Kanaan, 1:38.3668 (3)
2. 22-Simon Pagenaud, 1:38.4420 (5)
3. 26-Carlos Munoz, 1:38.5526 (14)
4. 1-Will Power, 1:38.5766 (2)
5. 7-James Jakes, 1:39.1614 (22)
6. 5-James Hinchcliffe, 1:39.7898 (16)

1. 67-Josef Newgarden, 1:43.8783 (12)
2. 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, 1:46.7627 (7)
3. 9-Scott Dixon, 1:47.1617 (15)
4. 83-Charlie Kimball, 1:47.4779 (21)
5. 27-Marco Andretti, 1:48.0192 (10)
6. 8-Sage Karam, 1:49.1470 (19)

Based on practice times from the weekend, the quartet of Chip Ganassi Racing cars (all four in the top nine in third practice) have a reason to be miffed at the qualifying cancellation.

Others who looked good in third practice – Chaves (third), Munoz (sixth) and Newgarden (seventh) – will start further back than their form guide from the weekend would indicate.

The Penske drivers got a bit of a get out of jail free card, with both Montoya and Castroneves advancing from hypothetical Q1 eliminations into pole and fourth place starting positions, respectively.

Otherwise, there’s really not too much to read into how qualifying didn’t go today. The INDYCAR rulebook dictates a grid by entrant points in qualifying rainouts, so NOLA 2015 joins Toronto two 2014, and Houston two 2013 as recent rainouts. In each of those three races, a Team Penske driver (Castroneves at the other two, Montoya on Sunday) has been on pole.

With it being a rain session, the field was always going to be jumbled anyway. And if it rains tomorrow, there is no guarantee that the grid order will stay in order even by entrant points.

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)