Magnussen seeking bigger things following shift to Haas

© Haas F1 Team
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Kevin Magnussen says he is grateful for the opportunities he has already experienced during his three-year Formula 1 career, but is chasing bigger and better things following his move to Haas for 2017.

Magnussen finished second on debut in Australia with McLaren back in 2014, but was ousted at the end of a tough season to make way for Fernando Alonso.

Magnussen spent a year in a reserve role at McLaren before being drafted in by Renault for 2016 as a late replacement for Pastor Maldonado.

Magnussen scored seven of Renault’s eight points in 2016 as the French manufacturer began to rebuild after taking over the cash-strapped Lotus operation and returning to F1 as a constructor.

Despite being offered a deal to stay at Renault for 2017, Magnussen opted to jump ship to Haas and replace Esteban Gutierrez, who was dropped by the American team at the end of its debut season.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Haas’ NASCAR shop in Kannapolis, North Carolina earlier this week, Magnussen spoke about the difference in approach he has already noticed compared to that of McLaren and Renault.

“This is a new team starting from scratch. It has a lot of potential,” Magnussen said.

“It can grow a lot and from the starting point. The starting point wasn’t so bad, scoring nearly 30 points in the first year.

“Renault and McLaren are very established teams. McLaren is probably the most established of them two, with massive budget and loads of people and resources.

“Renault, that was a new team, not completely new but the beginning of Renault again. They took over Lotus which was drained of resources. They didn’t have a lot of money and were struggling before Renault took over.

“All three very different experiences I am sure.”

Magnussen said he was grateful for the opportunities afforded to him by both McLaren and Renault in F1, but added that he intends to spend more than a single season with Haas.

“I feel very lucky to get the chance in F1. McLaren supported me very well in my time before Formula 1 and I learned a huge amount there,” Magnussen said.

“Since then I’ve been lucky to have some chances to race in Formula 1. I’ve been with three different teams in three seasons. My intention is to stick with this team a bit longer than one year.

“I’m in a great place right now and I have a really good opportunity to take myself to an even better place with Haas. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity I have right now.”

However, Magnussen does not feel he has anything extra to prove in F1 despite his early-career struggles with McLaren and Renault.

“I feel really good about my situation right now and the place that I’m in right now. Not many get the chance in Formula 1 at all.

“I’ve been with three different teams. I don’t feel so lucky about that, but I feel extremely fortunate to live my dream and go for my target which is to be a world champion in Formula 1 one day.

“I feel I can achieve that dream on the path that I am on now.”

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)