Pole winner for Rolex 24 qualifier fails inspection; Ganassi leads night session


DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — The No. 31 Cadillac that won the pole position for the Rolex 24 qualifying race was among three cars with an inspection failure Saturday night.

That moved the No. 55 Mazda into the top starting spot for Sunday’s Motul 100. The 100-minute race will set the starting grid for the 59th Rolex 24, the first qualifying race in the sports car classic’s history.

After Felipe Nasr qualified first in Action Express’ No. 31, IMSA ruled the car was underweight. The No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing (rear wing and rear bodywork out of compliance) and the No. 51 of Rick Ware Racing-Eurasia in LMP2 (rear wing) also had their qualifying times disallowed. Both had qualified fifth in class.

STARTING GRID: Click here for the Motul 100 starting grid l Starting grid by number

The trio of cars will be moved to the rear of their classes to start the Motul 100, which will feature two drivers in each entry.

Nasr and co-driver Pipo Derani (whose No. 31 team will be joined by Chase Elliott and Mike Conway in the Rolex 24) will start sixth of the seven DPi cars. Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque will start seventh in WTR’s No. 10.

Two of the three disqualified cars coincidentally had NASCAR connections: Cup Series champion Elliott is in the No. 31, and Cody Ware and Austin Dillon are among the four drivers in the No. 51.

The disqualifications were announced shortly after a two-hour Saturday night practice that was paced by the No. 01 Cadillac of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Kevin Magnussen, who is moving full time into the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this season from Formula One, turned the fastest lap of 1 minute, 35.412 seconds, which put him barely ahead of Conway’s 1:35.452.

Kamui Kobayashi made it a sweep of the top three for Cadillac on the speed chart for the fourth session of the Roar before the Rolex. The test session concludes with a 10 a.m. warmup Sunday and the 2 p.m. qualifying race.

Click here for speeds from Saturday night practice l Click here for speeds by class l Click here for fastest lap by driver

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)