IMSA: Derani, Patron ESM Nissan dethrone Cadillac at Road America

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – For the first time in the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, it’s not a Cadillac DPi-V.R that has won overall, as the second different Daytona Prototype international (DPi) manufacturer has broken through.

Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek have pulled off the win in the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi in Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.

The Nissan has toppled the Cadillac, courtesy of Derani’s barnstorming pass on Lap 56 around the outside of Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac on a restart into Turn 1. The No. 10 car won the first five races and Action Express Racing, with its Nos. 5 and 31 cars, have won the last two for Cadillac to open the year seven-for-seven in Prototype.

Derani, who’s been a thorn in the Wayne Taylor Racing team’s side before (notably at the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona), took over from Johannes van Overbeek and was only fractionally behind him after their last round of pit stops – stops which indirectly decided the race.

At that pit cycle, the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson opted not to pit, perhaps hoping the rest of the Prototype class field would need to come in again for a splash of fuel – so it shifted Stephen Simpson to the lead.

But the strategic hopes were dashed once the No. 3 Corvette C7.R contacted the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR going into Turn 1, which knocked Dirk Werner deep into the gravel trap and brought out another full course caution barely a lap after the last one.

Simpson would eventually need to pit, first taking on emergency service in a closed pit and then pitting again after the next restart for full service. That dropped the plucky “JDC Banana Boat” down to a season-worst eighth and last place in class, after a run that did not match its pace as Simpson set the fastest lap of the race at 1:54.095.

Performance Tech Motorsports kept up its streak in Prototype Challenge, a seventh consecutive victory in the swan song year for the class. This one, though, was harder earned than most as the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports car got back to the lead lap and within a few seconds of Performance Tech in the final half hour, but still Pato O’Ward and polesitter James French forged ahead to ensure French finally has a professional win not far from his hometown of Sheboygan in the No. 38 Oreca FLM09.

In GT Le Mans, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing finally won with its Ford GT for the first time since this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona and in the process, became the sixth different manufacturer in as many years to do so at this race in class. Corvette won last year, Porsche in 2015, Risi Ferrari in 2014, the SRT Viper in 2013 and BMW in 2012. Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller pulled off the triumph in the No. 66 car.

Meanwhile in GT Daytona, the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 got on the board with Jens Klingmann and Jesse Krohn delivering a dominant drive.

More to follow…

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)