IMSA: Chaotic race sees Action Express, BMW score victories in Canada

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship saw a chaotic Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park after a pair of rain showers hit in the final hour of the race, which scrambled the running order and caused several incidents in the final minutes.

In the end, Dane Cameron and Eric Curran survived the carnage and chaos to take the overall and Prototype win the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi for Action Express. BMW Team RLL went 1-2 in GTLM, with the No. 25 of Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims leading the No. 24 of Martin Tomczyk and John Edwards in their BMW M6 GTLM entries.

In GT Daytona, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis claimed victory, while the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports team continued its perfect season with another win for drivers James French and Pato O’Ward.

Reports for each class are below.

Prototype

It appeared that the battle for the win would be between Wayne Taylor Racing and JDC-Miller Motorsports, with Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson each pulling off spectacular passes for the lead on the No. 10 Cadillac DPi as they worked traffic, with Simpson’s move seeing him put two wheels on the grass as he made a pass on the back straightaway.

However, the first rain shower jumbled the running order, as half the track became soaking wet while the other half stayed dry. Simpson pitted the No. 85 Oreca LMP2, joining several other Prototype runners, while Jordan Taylor stayed out on slicks in the No. 10 entry.

Even though Taylor quickly fell back when the race restarted with 38 minutes remaining, the track quickly dried, forcing those ahead of Taylor to pit again for slick tires, which vaulted Taylor back into the lead.

However, a smooth run to the checkered flag came to an end as Taylor attempted to lap several GT cars in turn 4. Taylor clipped the right-front of Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette after trying an outside pass, and both cars spun into the tire barriers, bringing out another caution. The contact ended the day for Milner, while Taylor managed to continue, but with heavy damage to the back of the car.

He continued in the lead under caution, the pits being closed because this caution came within 15 minutes of the previous one, but Taylor immediately lost the lead to Dane Cameron when racing resumed with ten minutes remaining.

Cameron and the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi emerged in the lead ahead of Simpon’s No. 85, who managed to pass the Cameron’s teammate Joao Barbosa, in the No. 5 Cadillac DPi, on the outside of turn 5, with Barbosa even making slight contact and spinning in the aftermath.

However, Cameron was able to keep Simpson at bay until a final caution in the dying minutes. With another rain storm hitting the track, the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier LMP2, with David Ostella at the wheel, spun off into the tire barriers in turn 8 and flipped upside down. Ostella did walk away under his own power, but his incident saw the race end under caution, with Cameron and Eric Curran taking the win over Simpson and Misha Goikhberg. Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel finished third in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi.

GTLM

The no. 25 entry from BMW Team RLL took its second win in a row, with Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims dominating much of the race. Teammates Martin Tomczyk and John Edwards finished second in the No. 24 entry, making it a BMW 1-2, while Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe brought the No. 67 Ford GT home in third for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

Corvette Racing appeared to have an edge in strategy in the first half of the race, with both the No. 3 and No. 4 cars going the longest before stopping for the first time, making it known that they planned to only make two pit stops. However, the rain showers put paid to their strategy. While Tommy Milner crashed out with Jordan Taylor in the aforementioned incident, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia finished fourth.

GT Daytona

The No. 57 Steven Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 scored its first victory of the year with drivers Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis, denying the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 from Michael Shank Racing its third win in a row. Andy Lally and Katherine Legge did finish in second, with Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan finishing third in the Scuderia Corsa No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3.

Pole sitter Sage Karam rocketed off into the lead with his Lexus RCF GT3 in the opening stint, but he and the No. 14 3GT Racing team saw their chances for the win go by the wayside during their first pit stop, as they incurred a penalty for the tires spinning while it was up on the jacks. He and co-driver Scott Pruett finished fifth.

Prototype Challenge

Performance Tech Motorsports continued its run of perfection in 2017, with drivers James French and Pato O’Ward taking another win. However, this was not nearly as smooth as the others, as O’Ward impacted a tire carcass on the track, which seriously damaged the front nose assembly.

The team lost the lead, but was able to regain it in the final minutes after staying on slick tires during the brief rain showers. As the No. 20 and 26 entries from BAR1 Motorsports, who pitted for rain tires, pitted once more slicks, O’Ward moved the No. 38 back into the lead and held it to the end.

Don Yount and Ryan Lewis finished second in the No. 20, ahead of James Vance and Garett Grist.

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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)