Felix Rosenqvist returns to U.S. street courses at NYC ePrix

Photo: Mahindra Racing
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One of the stars of last season’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was Felix Rosenqvist, who won three of the four street course races for Belardi Auto Racing in a partial season.

The Swede was meant to have Indy Lights as a full program but only ran through Indianapolis before another driver (James French) took his place at Road America, before he returned at Toronto in mid-July last year.

On that weekend, Rosenqvist came back as if he’d never left with a pair of pole-to-flag romps for victories, for his second and third wins of the season.

But with his career taking him to new places in the last 12 months – he’s raced a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in sports cars, he tested an IndyCar with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio (and has been rumored to do so again this year), he’s raced at Le Mans with DragonSpeed, at Macau in Formula 3, in DTM with Mercedes, in Super Formula with Toyota and the FIA Formula E Championship with Mahindra Racing – Rosenqvist hasn’t made much in the way of visits to North America for racing since, other than to Mexico City for the FE round there in April.

Fortunately that changes this weekend at the Qualcomm New York City ePrix, where Rosenqvist enters the weekend third in points on the heels of his first Formula E win at Berlin last month. He also just banked his first Super Formula podium last weekend in Fuji, when he finished second.

He would have had a weekend sweep there, but for a pit safety infraction on the mandatory car change pit stop in the second race and a 10-second penalty assessed as a result. That gave the win to Renault e.dams’ Sebastien Buemi even though Rosenqvist was first on the road.

The Swede told my MST colleague Luke Smith that his American street course experience would help in Formula E and it’s proven that way this season.

“I can’t wait to go racing in New York City. I’ve competed in the United States before but I’m looking forward to racing around the streets of Brooklyn in the M3Electro,” Rosenqvist said in the team’s pre-race release.

“It’s a really important race for the team and we’re confident we can continue our podium streak – and hopefully chase down more wins! I’m also really looking forward to exploring the city – I’ve only been to New York once but didn’t get a chance to see the sights.”

The doubleheader of races takes place this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

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)