Bourdais return to Coyne made official

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Sebastien Bourdais’ switch back to Dale Coyne Racing for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season has been confirmed on Wednesday.

NBCSN contributor Robin Miller broke the news for RACER.com during the Watkins Glen weekend that Bourdais, the four-time Champ Car champion, would leave KVSH Racing after three years and join Coyne’s team. When Bourdais came back to IndyCar in 2011 after a two-year sojourn in Formula 1 and other sporadic sports car appearances, it was with Coyne.

Bourdais then drove for Dragon Racing in 2012 and 2013 before moving to KVSH in 2014.

Along with the driver news comes the additional announcement that Bourdais will have some incredible engineering strength. He’s also reunited with Craig Hampson, formerly of Andretti Autosport, who he worked with at Newman/Haas Racing in Champ Car. And Olivier Boisson, who’s been with Bourdais at KVSH, comes over as well.

Bourdais’ first test will be at Gateway Motorsports Park on Thursday.

“Back in 2011, Dale was the one who gave me the opportunity to come back to IndyCar, and I’m looking forward to a very exciting second stint with his team,” Bourdais said in a release.

“Thanks to Dale’s leadership and unconditional commitment to the series, we have been able to assemble a great group of guys, including Olivier Boisson, my race engineer for the last three years, as well as my former lead engineer from the Newman/Haas Racing days, Craig Hampson. The addition of these two great minds and friends, to Dale Coyne Racing’s existing group, will undoubtedly give me a great chance at running up front with a competitive car..

“I would like to thank Chevy and KVSH Racing for their support and trust in me over the last few years,” continued the Frenchman. “Now, a new chapter has begun and it would not have been possible without Honda’s commitment to our effort. I am thrilled to be able to get things going this early, and can’t wait to discover my new machine this week at Gateway!”

That confirmation of Honda squashes any rumors Coyne would move to Chevrolet for 2017. With Chip Ganassi Racing switching from Chevrolet to Honda for its four cars, at least one and potentially two teams will need to switch the other way.

Coyne now has a driver confirmed in October and explained how the team will work operationally with the new hires.

“Sebastien has been on our radar ever since he left IndyCar to go to Formula 1 in Europe. We were honored to bring him back to the States to return to his roots in 2011, and even more excited about what our future prospects will be in 2017 and beyond,” he said.

“We have assembled a great group of guys over the past few years and with additions to our engineering department for 2017, we are definitely ‘putting the band back together’.  We will have some greats from the Newman/Haas era of Craig Hampson chief engineer, Todd Phillips Chief Mechanic, Oren Trower as lead mechanic, Colin Duff and others all from the Newman/Haas team. Needless to say we look forward to 2017 with great anticipation.”

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

Grant Larson Turkey Night
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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)