Azerbaijan Grand Prix sees start of busy month for F1 on NBCSN

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A busy month of action for Formula 1 from now until the summer break at the end of July kicks off with this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the first of four races in the next six weekends.

Live coverage occurs this weekend across several NBC Sports Group networks, NBCSN and CNBC, with streaming on the NBC Sports App.

TV times for live sessions are qualifying Saturday at 9 a.m. ET on CNBC and the race Sunday at 8 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Free practice two airs live Friday at 9 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports App and is televised at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

This is F1’s second trip to Baku for the renamed Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which was last year called the European Grand Prix. It also comes a week after the 24 Hours of Le Mans, rather than on the same weekend, which may prevent it from being overlooked on the global motorsport calendar.

We’re also guaranteed a new winner at this track, because Nico Rosberg won here last year for Mercedes AMG Petronas. But with the World Champion having left the sport at the end of last year, someone new will hoist the trophy on Sunday.

Championship protagonists Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton are keen to do so; Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari leads Hamilton of Mercedes by 12 points, 141-129, heading into this weekend’s race.

Vettel was second here last year while Hamilton was fifth. If Hamilton wins here, it will complete his run of winning at every active circuit on the 2017 Formula 1 calendar.

Additionally, a Hamilton win would be the first time a driver has won consecutive races this year, as this is Round 8 of the season. Vettel and Hamilton are on three wins each, with Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas picking up the other win of the year in Russia.

Kimi Raikkonen will be looking for his first win of the year for Ferrari as well. He was fourth here last year.

Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo has finished third in each of the last three races but has been fortunate to benefit from poor luck, reliability or strategy from at least one of the Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull drivers in those races. Neither he nor Max Verstappen is expected to contend for a podium on outright pace.

The Sahara Force India teammates enter with the microscope firmly on them after missing out on a potential podium finish in Canada. A potential third and fourth/fifth place results for Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez became fifth for Perez and sixth for Ocon after the two drivers were not switched around with Ocon on fresher Pirelli tires. Perez was third here last year while Ocon makes his Baku debut.

Here’s the schedule, with stream links and TV network if applicable:

  • Practice 1: Friday, June 23, 5 a.m.-6:30 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Practice 2: Friday, June 23, 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Practice 2 (Replay): Friday, June 23, 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Practice 3: Saturday, June 24, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (Story; Full replay)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, June 24, 9 a.m.-10:30 a.m. ET  (Story; Full replay)
  • Qualifying (Replay): Saturday, June 24, 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Qualifying (Replay): Sunday, June 25, 7 a.m.-8 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Pre-Race: Sunday, June 25, 8 a.m.-8:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, June 25, 8:30 a.m.-11 a.m. ET (StoryFull replay)
  • Post-Race: Sunday, June 25, 11 a.m.-11:30 a.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Formula 2 Race 1: Saturday, June 24, 4 a.m.-5:05 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Formula 2 Race 2: Sunday, June 25, 6 a.m.-6:50 a.m. ET (Full replay)
  • Formula 2 Race (Replay): Sunday, June 25, 6 a.m.-7 a.m. ET (NBCSN)

The next race is the Austrian Grand Prix, on July 9.

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)