Red Bull GRC: Washington, D.C. set to kick off second half of year

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After six action-packed races to kick off the first half of the 2016 season, Red Bull Global Rallycross heads to the Northeast for another returning event, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

The championship has about five realistic contenders with now five races remaining in the 11-race season, following the official cancellation of the second MCAS New River race.

Tanner Foust of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross leads the way from Chip Ganassi Rallycross’ Steve Arpin and defending series champion Scott Speed, Foust’s teammate.

Those three are at 295, 286 and 279 points, and the three clear front runners. Brian Deegan (Ganassi) and Patrik Sandell (Bryan Herta Rallysport) have 248 and 243 points and could capitalize if the three top drivers hit a rough patch.

It gets tougher from there on back, for the pair of Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic drivers (Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman) and SH Rallycross/DRR, the latter team of which provides one of the weekend’s most interesting stories with the return of Nelson Piquet Jr. in the team’s No. 07 MET-Rx Ford Fiesta ST.

Piquet won last year at Washington, D.C., and his presence this weekend will provide a good baseline whether SH Rallycross’ tough 2016 season is more setup or driver-related. Jeff Ward hasn’t forgotten how to wheel it by any stretch, but Ward has only one top-five finish in the first six races of the year for the James “Sulli” Sullivan-led team.

“I’ve missed competing in Red Bull GRC with SH Rallycross/DRR,” said Piquet Jr. “I had such a great couple of seasons with the team and I love rallycross. Sulli and I are friends and have kept in touch. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to race again with the team that helped me get my first GRC victory.”

Behind Piquet at this race last year, Patrik Sandell and Ken Block completed the podium – a Ford podium sweep. Arpin made it a top-four sweep with Foust and Speed in fifth and seventh, respectively.

Only once since that race have the pair of Volkswagens been off the podium (Daytona 1, 2016), and that race saw both drivers in win and podium positions before both fell out in the final stages of the race.

Deegan and either Honda driver is still in search of their first win this year, with Deegan having been the closest to breaking through thus far this year. The “General” of Metal Mulisha came a hard-luck second at MCAS New River, having lost the win on the final lap by way of taking the Joker while Speed took the standard course to the inside, and moved ahead.

The D.C. course, a 10-turn, 0.899-mile course, switches to a clockwise direction from counterclockwise last year. Even more notable, the jump is right before the finish line.

There’s also a new fantasy game Red Bull GRC has introduced; details of which are linked here.

You can watch the action LIVE this Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. Toby Moody, Townsend Bell and Kristen Kenney have the call from RFK Stadium.

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)