Mercedes AMG Petronas revels in third straight title

Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas
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Regardless of which of its drivers wins the 2016 Formula 1 World Championship, Mercedes AMG Petronas has secured its third straight Constructor’s Championship – and that’s no small accomplishment.

The respective staff in Brackley and Brixworth got to see the road travel team return home from the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, as with first and third, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton clinched the Constructor’s title.

The third straight title for Mercedes supplants its previous back-to-back benchmark of 1954 and 1955.

This season, with 15 wins, 28 podium finishes, 16 pole positions and 10 fastest laps from 17 races, the Mercedes-Benz PU106C Hybrid Power Unit has taken 50% of all available World Championship points thus far in 2016, leading 81 percent of racing laps in the process. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid has taken 35 percent of points available, while also leading 81 percent of racing laps.

“Standing here with the Constructors’ trophy, with the two stars that will become three in December, is such a proud moment,” said Toto Wolff, head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

“It’s really a great achievement what we have done in the last three years. I met Ross Brawn a few weeks ago. We had a coffee and he told me that what makes him so proud of this organization is that we could easily have dropped the ball. But all of us, together, have kept that ball up for three years in a row now – and that’s quite an achievement.

“It’s a great honor to work with all of these guys and girls. From Paddy and Andy, who push us all so hard intellectually, to our great drivers, who have been a massive part of this success, to the hundreds of people who work their fingers to the bone day in, day out to create the tools and the resources we need to succeed.

“I’ve said before and I believe it more all the time that we have the best driver pairing in Formula One – and the best team of people behind them all the time. All of them are pushing each other to new levels. Just when we think the car can’t go any faster, somehow we find another tenth of a second and it blows us away every time. It’s only when you put all of that together that you get to where we are today.

“I was asked the question at the weekend: “What is the silver bullet for this team? Is there one particular reason why we are where we are?” The only thing that came to my mind is that there are 1,500 reasons. It’s all of these 1,500 people here at Brackley and Brixworth who made this dream a reality and I thank each and every one of them for their part in this story.”

Mercedes executive director, technical, Paddy Lowe added, “We came away from 2014 with some phenomenal results that we never expected were possible in this modern era of Formula One. In the aftermath, we suspected it would be a one-off and it’s been truly extraordinary to see the team maintain that level of dominance across three seasons. It’s testament to the extraordinary work of everyone at Brackley and Brixworth. It’s not just about working hard, as everyone certainly has, but working smart, too. A huge congratulations to everyone involved for their contribution to this success.”

Images and highlights from the celebration are linked below. The @MercedesAMGF1 Twitter account did a great job of highlighting everything.

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)