Rossi to make F1 debut in Singapore

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American driver Alexander Rossi will make his full Formula 1 debut in this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, replacing Roberto Merhi at Manor Marussia F1 Team.

Rossi has spent 2015 racing in F1’s feeder series, GP2, where he currently sits second in the drivers’ championship with two race wins to his name.

However, the Californian will finally get the chance to make his maiden grand prix start this weekend in Singapore after striking a deal with Manor to take part in five of the seven remaining races in 2015.

“I’m very thankful to race for the Manor Marussia F1 team and for their continued belief in me,” Rossi said. “I’ve been prepared for this opportunity for quite a while now. Many will know from 2014 that the team and I already have a strong relationship and there’s a bit of unfinished business for me here.

“This is a small F1 team that has been through so much. They exemplify passion and true strength of character, and their comeback this season is extraordinary. I’m honored to be part of this legacy and their continued growth and success.

“I want to thank the management at Manor Marussia F1 Team and my team in the GP2 Series, Racing Engineering, for supporting both my F1 duties and the completion of an already strong GP2 campaign. Since Monza, my return to F1 came together rather quickly and seamlessly. The collective support of both Manor and Racing Engineering was instrumental in making this opportunity possible.

“Singapore is a circuit I really enjoy and the timing of my debut could not be more perfect. There’s a lot of work ahead and I’m looking forward to a busy end to the 2015 season.”

Rossi will become the first American to race in a grand prix since Scott Speed back in 2007, having narrowly missed out on a berth with Manor’s predecessor, Marussia, towards the end of the 2014 season.

An issue with regular driver Max Chilton’s sponsorship prompted Marussia to name Rossi as one of its drivers for last year’s Belgian Grand Prix, only for the British driver to reclaim his seat ahead of the grand prix.

Rossi was named as Jules Bianchi’s replacement for the Russian Grand Prix following the Frenchman’s accident at Suzuka one week earlier. Marussia ultimately opted to only field one car out of respect for the Frenchman, who died from the injuries sustained nine months later.

The team entered administration following the race in Sochi, but Rossi was on standby for a possible last-gasp return in Abu Dhabi. The deal failed to come to fruition, though, and Marussia did not return.

Earlier this month, Haas F1 team principal Günther Steiner confirmed that the American team would not be hiring an American driver for its debut season in the sport in 2016, claiming that “there is nobody out there at the moment”.

In spite of this, Rossi will finally end America’s F1 driver drought this weekend in Singapore, stepping in for Merhi.

In order to maintain his standing within GP2, Rossi will miss the grands prix in Russia and Abu Dhabi where the support series clashes with F1, with Merhi returning to the seat for his races.

Manor has confirmed that Rossi will get the chance to race in front of his home crowd at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas this October.

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)