Taylors win Long Beach, while Porsche takes dramatic GTLM win

Photo courtesy of IMSA
1 Comment

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Up front, the Taylor brothers, Ricky and Jordan Taylor, dominated the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Behind them, drama for the GT Le Mans class win ruled the day as Porsche denied Corvette Racing its 100th GT win – with a controversial move from one of the two factory 911 RSRs.

A first lap pass from Ricky Taylor got the No. 10 Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP into the lead past polesitter Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Action Express Racing Corvette DP.

Then once Jordan Taylor took over, he defended brilliantly from Joao Barbosa and Dane Cameron the rest of the race in the two Action Express cars. Taylor extended the gap to 2.958 seconds to win the 100-minute race, completing 75 laps of the street circuit.

It was a fully deserved win for the team, the team’s first since Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last year. The pair also won at Long Beach last year.

Behind the top three, the pair of Mazda Prototypes posted the best finishes yet in their history, fourth and fifth overall.

Meanwhile in GTLM, a late-race caution with just more than 20 minutes remaining helped bring the pair of Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSRs to within right behind the two Corvette Racing Corvette C7.Rs.

It was setting up to be a welcome comeback for both Porsches, which were assessed drive-through penalties for speeding during their first and only scheduled pit stops.

And then it went batty.

Antonio Garcia was running second in the No. 3 Corvette but spun coming out of Turn 4, and pancaked the left side of the car at both the left front and left rear suspension points. That took him out of the running.

Then, a broken right front wheel sent John Edwards’ hood of his No. 100 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM into the runoff at Turn 1. Edwards got out of the car OK and under his own power.

The Garcia spin promoted the Nos. 912 and 911 Porsches into second and third, but with just over five minutes to go, Fred Makowiecki made a substantially low percentage lunge attempt on leader Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette to spin him around at the hairpin.

Unsurprisingly, following the punt, Makowiecki was assessed a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.

Nick Tandy, in the No. 911 Porsche he shared with Patrick Pilet, snuck through to take the lead, and the win. Milner and Oliver Gavin, who combined with Marcel Fassler won the combined 36 hours of Florida at Daytona and Sebring, ended a cruel and hard luck second in class.

Risi Competizione finished third with Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella in the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE, thus earning that new car its first podium in North America.

PC was less dramatic with JDC/Miller Motorsports, which inherited the pole after PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Robert Alon caused a caution during qualifying and after the session didn’t meet its minimum 10 minutes of green flag run time, taking its second win of the year.

Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson shared the No. 85 Oreca FLM09. The two co-drove with Kenton Koch and Chris Miller to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona to open the season.

The No. 8 Starworks Motorsport car of Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow was second, ahead of the Performance Tech Motorsports entry of Kyle Marcelli and James French in third. Marcelli had a last lap accident that looked worse than it was, as he lost control exiting Turn 8, pancaked the wall, then spun into the wall while putting more power down to knock off the nose cone assembly.

When Colin Braun stopped on course to cause the yellow, it was IMSA’s first full-course caution in three years of racing on the streets of Long Beach.

For only 100 minutes of racing, it was a jam-packed race.

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)