April 2 in Motorsports History: Robby Gordon’s first IndyCar victory


“What comes around goes around.”

That’s what Robby Gordon told reporters after he won his first major race on April 2, 1995.

Just one year after running out of fuel while leading CART’s 200-mile event at Phoenix International Raceway, Gordon was in victory lane at the same facility, thanks in part to an error by Michael Andretti.

Despite falling a lap behind early, Gordon stayed with the leaders throughout, eventually regaining his lap.

With seven laps remaining, Emerson Fittipaldi led Andretti (second) and Gordon (third). But one lap later, Fittipaldi had to come in for a final splash of fuel.

While Fittipaldi pitted, Gordon passed Andretti to inherit the lead. Having not been told by his team that he inherited the lead, and assuming that Gordon was still a lap down, Andretti let him by without a fight.

It was only until after the race when he was being interviewed by ESPN’s Gary Gerould that Andretti became aware of the fact that he was in contention to win.

Robby Gordon celebrates after winning at Phoenix. Photo: All Sport

“Was that for the win?!?” Andretti asked Gerould. “I had no idea I was in the lead.

“It’s disappointing because I got held up with (Eliseo) Salazar and (Roberto) Guerrero, and they pushed me up into the slippery stuff (marbles), and that’s how Gordon got by me. Otherwise, I had no idea I was even in the lead.”

Meanwhile in victory lane, Gordon couldn’t have been happier.

“I’m ecstatic. I was crying on the back straightaway,” Gordon told ESPN’s Jack Arute. “It’s my first victory in IndyCar. It’s something I’ve always dreamed of.”

Gordon would win once more in IndyCar (from the pole at Belle Isle later that season). He would continue racing in both CART and the Indy Racing Leauge on and off through the remainder of the 1990s and early 2000s before moving to full-time NASCAR competition. He now races in his Stadium Super Trucks series.

Ironically enough, another Gordon also was victorious on this date in 1995. Earlier in the day, Jeff Gordon won a 500-lap NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Also on this date:

1977: Tom Sneva won the Texas Grand Prix at Texas World Speedway. Later that season, he would win again at Pocono en route to clinching his first championship.

2004: Former World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski recorded his first and only IROC victory in dominant fashion, leading flag to flag at Texas Motor Speedway after starting from the pole position. He then raced in a WoO event at the TMS dirt track the following night.

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Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.

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)