Hamilton rallies to Spanish GP pole as Red Bull shines


Lewis Hamilton stormed to his third pole position of the 2016 Formula 1 season with a stunning display in the final part of qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday.

Hamilton entered the race weekend 43 points behind Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship and without a win since the United States Grand Prix in October, but has given himself a great chance of ending this drought by taking pole position.

A mistake from Hamilton on his first flying lap in Q3 handed provisional pole to Rosberg, the German going eight-tenths of a second faster than his rival with his initial effort in the final session.

However, Hamilton more than made up for it with his final run in qualifying, going almost three-tenths of a second faster than Rosberg’s final lap to secure pole position in Barcelona.

Red Bull pulled off a surprise by outqualifying the Ferraris, with Daniel Ricciardo finishing third thanks to a fine single-lap run at the end of Q3.

Max Verstappen was quick to justify Red Bull’s decision to give him an early promotion, qualifying fourth in his first race for the team ahead of Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

Valtteri Bottas qualified seventh for Williams ahead of home favorite Carlos Sainz Jr. and Force India’s Sergio Perez, while Fernando Alonso marked the first Q3 appearance for McLaren since it rekindled its engine partnership with Honda at the beginning of last year, qualifying 10th.

A late lap from Perez in Q2 dumped Force India teammate Nico Hulkenberg out in Q2, leaving the German 11th on the grid. He was joined in the dropzone by Jenson Button, who was unable to emulate Alonso’s achievement in the sister McLaren by making it into Q3.

Daniil Kvyat’s first qualifying session back at Toro Rosso proved disappointed as he only finished 13th, while Haas also struggled as Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez qualified P14 and P16 respectively, split by Kevin Magnussen in the lead Renault.

A mis-timed and traffic-filled final run in Q1 left Williams red-faced as Felipe Massa was eliminated early on, leaving him 18th on the grid for tomorrow’s race behind Renault’s Jolyon Palmer.

Sauber struggled once again as both its drivers were eliminated at the first hurdle, Marcus Ericsson finishing 19th ahead of teammate Felipe Nasr in P20. Manor once again propped up the qualifying timesheets with Pascal Wehrlein 21st ahead of Rio Haryanto.

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)