Hamilton storms to tenth pole position of 2015 in Belgium

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Lewis Hamilton will start tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix from pole position after topping the timesheets in qualifying at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday afternoon.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap of 1:47.197 to beat Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg by 0.458 seconds in the final stage of qualifying as the German team once again locked out the front row of the grid.

The result marked Hamilton’s tenth pole position of the 2015 season, and also sees him clinch the second FIA Pole Trophy, awarded to the best qualifier in F1 each year.

Despite showing good signs of pace on Friday in practice, Rosberg was unable to match Hamilton in the middle sector at Spa, leaving him to settle for second place on the grid.

Williams emerged as the best of the rest in qualifying as Valtteri Bottas finished third, albeit 1.3 seconds behind Hamilton’s best time. Teammate Felipe Massa qualified seventh, marking the team’s best results thus far this weekend at Spa.

Romain Grosjean led Lotus’ charge once again in qualifying at Spa as he qualified fourth, marking his best Saturday result of the season. However, he will drop down to P9 for the start thanks to a gearbox penalty. As a result, Sergio Perez, who finished an excellent fifth for Force India, will start from fourth ahead of 2014 race winner Daniel Ricciardo.

Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado qualified eighth on Saturday ahead of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who struggled in the final part of the session and had to settle for P9 overall. Carlos Sainz Jr. rounded out the top ten for Toro Rosso.

Nico Hulkenberg and Daniil Kvyat were two of the surprise dropouts in Q2 at Spa as both struggled to find enough pace in the dying seconds of the session. A fast lap from Force India teammate Perez dumped Hulkenberg out in 11th place ahead of Kvyat and Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson.

Kimi Raikkonen may have a new Ferrari deal under his belt, but this did not improve his luck in qualifying as he suffered a sudden oil pressure drop on his car at the beginning of Q2, causing him to stop out on track.

As a result, the four-time Belgian Grand Prix winner was left P14 come the end of the session, only ahead of Max Verstappen who chose not to run due to a grid penalty.

McLaren endured another difficult qualifying at Spa on Saturday as both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso were eliminated in Q1. Both struggled with the long straights thanks to the power deficiencies of the Honda power unit, leaving them 17th and 18th overall behind Sauber’s Felipe Nasr.

However, both drivers will start from the back row of the grid thanks to the power unit penalties accumulated so far this weekend, amounting to a total of 105 positions. As a result, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi will gain some positions from their 19th and 20th-place finishes in qualifying.

Tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7:30am ET. For more details, click here.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / 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)