Miller scores shock maiden MotoGP victory at Assen

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Jack Miller picked up his maiden MotoGP victory in Sunday’s thrilling Dutch TT race at Assen.

Rain in the lead-up to the start of the race in the Netherlands resulted in the track being declared wet, equalizing the difference between the factory and satellite bikes.

The track dried early on, allowing Yonny Hernandez shot into a shock lead in the early stages of the race as pole-sitter Andrea Dovizioso dropped back.

However, a heavy shower hit Assen on lap nine that would turn the race on its head. Hernandez crashed out just after Dovizioso passed Valentino Rossi for second place, handing the Italian the lead again.

The torrential rain forced officials to red flag the race and wait for conditions to improve, before ultimately forming the grid for the restart with 12 laps to run.

Dovizioso led the field away, but was swamped by Honda’s Marc Marquez and Rossi, the latter moving into a steady lead. However, the nine-time world champion slid off the track just as his led started to swell, forcing him to retire.

Marquez now led but had Miller – racing on a satellite Honda bike – closing quickly. The MotoGP rookie threw his bike down the inside at the final chicane to take the lead.

Miller slowly began to eke out a lead, with Marquez not willing to push too hard given the plight of his rivals and the points advantage at stake, allowing the gap to grow to over two seconds.

With the final corner turned, Miller turned to check that Marquez was not close by before tipping his bike up into a wheelie and crossing the line to clinch his first MotoGP victory.

The Australian made the leap up from Moto3 to MotoGP at the beginning of the season, but after just eight races, he has added his name to the list of grand prix winners. Miller’s win also marked the first victory for a satellite bike in MotoGP since Portugal 2006.

“I don’t know what to feel at the moment,” Miller said after the race with a catch in his voice.

“A lot of people said that this project wouldn’t work. I just hope that we showed them wrong and I can ride a bike and I’m not an idiot. Thank you to Honda for taking a risk on me.”

Marquez seemed elated with second place, punching the air while crossing the line after extending his championship lead to 20 points thanks to Rossi and Lorenzo’s struggles, the latter ultimately fighting back to finish 10th.

Scott Redding rounded out the podium, finishing ahead of Pol Espargaro and Andrea Iannone. Hector Barbera finished sixth, with Eugene Laverty and Stefan Bradl following in P7 and P8. Maverick Vinales and Lorenzo rounded out the top 10.

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

Grant Larson Turkey Night / 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)