Pietro Fittipaldi will replace Romain Grosjean in F1’s second race Sunday at Bahrain

Pietro Fittipaldi Hickory champion
Lloyd Images/Getty Images
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SAKHIR, Bahrain — Romain Grosjean has been ruled out of the second Formula One race in Bahrain, and the Haas F1 team named Pietro Fittipaldi, a grandson of former F1 champion Emerson Fittipaldi and former Hickory Motor Speedway champion, as the replacement Monday.

Grosjean was hospitalized with burns on the back of both hands after a fiery wreck Sunday on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Haas said it anticipated Grosjean would be discharged Tuesday, but his injuries will sideline him Sunday for the Sakhir Grand Prix, the second race in Bahrain, which will use a shorter outer loop at the same venue. The circuit has been compared with an oval-type layout — which is fitting for the team’s replacement driver.

Fittipaldi, 24, will bring an American background to Haas F1, which has a base in Kannapolis, North Carolina, and is owned by U.S. businessman Gene Haas. The Brazilian won a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2011.

Fittipaldi also made six NTT IndyCar Series starts in 2018. He had been slated to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 that season before missing more than two months because of a broken left leg and fractured right ankle in a May 4, 2018 qualifying crash at Spa-Francorchamps in the World Endurance Championship sports car series. After returning at Mid-Ohio, he finished ninth for Dale Coyne Racing at Portland International Raceway.

Haas F1 hired Fittipaldi as its test driver in November 2018. The team said he has attended the majority of Formula 1 races this season in his test and reserve driver role. After testing the team’s VF-18 and VF-19, Friday’s opening practice will mark his debut in the VF-20 car.

“After it was decided that the best thing for Romain was to skip at least one race, the choice to put Pietro in the car was pretty easy,” Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said.

“Pietro will drive the VF-20, and he’s familiar with us, having been around the team for the past two seasons as a test and reserve driver. It’s the right thing to do and it’s obviously a good opportunity for him. He’s been patient and was always prepared for this opportunity – and now it has come. That’s why we want him in the car and I’m sure he’ll do a good job. It’s very demanding being called in at the last minute, but as I said, I think it’s the right thing to do for Haas F1 Team.”

When Fittipaldi makes his debut, it will mark the third generation of his family to race in F1. Emerson Fittipaldi and his brother Wilson raced in the 1970s and 1980s, and Wilson’s son Christian Fittipaldi drove for three seasons in the early 1990s. Emerson Fittipaldi was champion in 1972 for Lotus and in 1974 for McLaren. He also is a two-time winner of the Indy 500 in 1989 and ’93.

Pietro Fittipaldi last raced in the Asian Formula Three championship in February.

“Obviously, it’s not an ideal set of circumstances to get my first opportunity to compete in Formula One, but I’m extremely grateful to (team owner) Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner for their faith in putting me behind the wheel this weekend,” Fittipaldi said.

“I’ve been with the team a lot this season, both trackside and working on simulator sessions, so I’m familiar with the team’s operating procedures on a grand prix weekend.”

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)