Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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While the FIA Formula 1 World Championship remains dormant, a pair of its drivers will be quite busy at this weekend’s Rolex 24.

Further, a couple news stories surfaced that wrapped a conflict going back two years and offered a hint about one team changing its name.

Below is a recap of the Formula 1 news week:

Alonso, Stroll Ready for Rolex 24

The 2018 edition of the Rolex 24 sees a pair of full-time Formula 1 drivers grace the grid in McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, in United Autosports’ No. 23 entry, and Williams Martini Racing’s Lance Stroll, a part of the driver rotation in the No. 37 Jackie Chan DCR JOTA entry.

Alonso is, unsurprisingly, the more high-profile of the two, with the Rolex 24 continuing his preparation for a possible entry at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Rolex is Alonso’s first sports car race, let alone a sports car endurance race. Further still, it’s his first time running on a track that features high-banking in the corners, a facet that created a different sensation for him behind the wheel.

“You feel the compression in the body, you feel the visibility change because when in a normal car on the circuit, your view in the car is longer ahead,” he detailed following the Roar Before the 24 test. “When you are in the corner with banking you see only the next 200 meters of the track. “But it was good fun, a good feeling after missing track time. So far, so good.’’

For Lance Stroll, this year’s Rolex is a return trip for him, the 19-year-old having previously contested the event back in 2016, when he finished fifth with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

Alonso was selected to do the qualifying in his No. 23 Ligier JS P217 Gibson, qualifying 13th, the best of the Ligier entries. Stroll ultimately ceded to Robin Frijns, who qualified the No. 37 Oreca 07 Gibson in sixth.

Force India, Sauber Drop 2015 Complaint of Anti-Competitive Practices

Back in 2015, Sahara Force India and Sauber F1 Team filed a complaint to the European Commission over anti-competitive practices in Formula One, primarily contesting the distribution of revenue and the process by which rules were established.

However, earlier this week, both teams announced via press releases that they agreed to withdraw the aforementioned complaints, citing progress in discussions involving such topics as prize money, cost reduction, and engine regulations.

Force India to Change its Name?

A long-standing rumor has Sahara Force India changing its name. This rumor grew more legs earlier in the week when a report on Crash.net detailed that the team could reveal its new name at the launch of their 2018 car on February 25.

One of the possible names is Force F1 Team, with an entity reportedly already registered.

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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)