4-Crown: 50 Career USAC Sprint Wins for Grant
Series News Release - USAC Media
On a milestone night, Justin Grant became the 26th driver to reach 50 USAC national feature victories as he checked off his second career 4-Crown Nationals USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship victory on Saturday night at Rossburg, Ohio’s Eldora Speedway.
The Ione, Calif. native, who won the 2016 4-Crown race, took over the lead on the fifth lap of the 30-lap feature from Jason McDougal and finished it off in fashion by becoming the first driver to reach six series victories on the season to remain afloat with an 80-point lead in his pursuit of a first career USAC National Sprint Car driving title.
Grant’s fourth overall USAC National Sprint Car victory at Eldora came in the 300th USAC national open wheel points paying event ever held at Eldora, and in doing so, Grant reaped the rewards for a rim-riding performance on one the most famed dirt tracks in the land in his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – MPV Express – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.
“Eldora Speedway is so awesome,” Grant exclaimed. “It’s on the fence. It’s high stakes. It’s high risk. It’s high reward. I was having an absolute blast out there. I’ve really kind of struggled the last couple of years at Eldora and I about wrote myself off during 4-Crown here last year.”
Grant flipped during a hot lap run at the 4-Crown in 2021, but there were no such qualms this time around as he earned his 34th career USAC National Sprint Car triumph, which sits just one notch below Jon Stanbrough and Rich Vogler for 13th all-time.
The only hindrance came early on and, by chance, during a red flag period in the preceding USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship feature, Grant was able to communicate from the track to the pits that a few changes needed to be made to the sprint car.
“We rolled into Eldora with our normal (set-up),” Grant revealed. “(We thought) it would be slick, and we’d go ahead and tighten up. I was way too tight in qualifying and way too tight in the heat race. So, we left it alone. During that red in the midget feature, I pulled down to the fence, and I was yelling for (crew chief) Dylan Cook, saying, “tighten it up, it’s slick, it’s slick!” He got it tightened up and got the motor detuned on it and gave me one heck of a hot rod. I can’t thank him enough. He works his absolute tail off. I had kind of lost my way on set up here a little bit lately and I’ve had Dan Drinan coming with me the last couple of nights just to give me another set of eyes to get us back on track.”
Every win is meaningful for Grant, but this particular one especially, as he became the first driver to win three Bubby Jones Master of Going Faster races in 2022 – a 10-race miniseries within the USAC National Sprint Car schedule. Jones was Grant’s father-in-law who won six USAC National Sprint Car features at Eldora, including the first of his career in 1977.
“It’s special to win every one of these, but to win a Bubby Jones Master of Going Faster race at Eldora, this is as cool as sprint car racing gets for me,” Grant prided. “I’m on cloud nine.”
Grant started his race from the third position, but in the beginning, the point was controlled by pole sitter McDougal who scooted along the bottom to lead the opening lap while Grant shot along the outside to slot into second.
The first sign of trouble came on lap three when Dallas Hewitt (16th) tagged the turn four wall and flipped several times. Robert Ballou, who had already advanced from 22nd to 18th in the first two laps, got collected into the incident, and he too flipped heavily, ending both drivers nights prematurely with both walking away under their own power.
A side-by-side battle commenced up front once racing resumed as Grant raced around the outside of McDougal for the lead on the back straight on lap five. Meanwhile, Brady Bacon was hauling on the high line as he doubled up on lap seven to move from fifth to third past Jake Swanson and Shane Cottle. A full circuit later, on lap eight, Bacon continued to pour it on as he powered around the outside of McDougal for the runner-up spot.
However, Bacon still stood roughly two seconds behind leader Grant as the surging C.J. Leary began to apply pressure to Bacon for third after starting back in eighth. With five to go, Leary made it happen as he slide jobbed Bacon for the second spot in turn one and promptly began to go to work to track down Grant.
Leary shaved Grant’s advantage in half, down to a second, as Grant worked lapped traffic and even gave a patented Jack Hewitt-esque kiss of the right rear tire off the outside wall in turn three as he came back to the white flag.
Grant remained in total control and completed the quest by racing under the checkered flag 0.644 sec. ahead of Leary at the finish line with Bacon third, McDougal fourth and Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier Chase Stockon rounding out the top-five.
Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) came one spot shy of his second career 4-Crown USAC National Sprint Car win in his Michael Motorsports/Kodiak Products – Gray Auto – Highsmith Guns – DMI/DRC/Chevy. However, he was able to secure his third career top-two result in the event after winning in 2017 and finishing as the runner-up in 2018.
Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) took the final spot on the podium in his Dynamics, Inc./Cobalt Civil – Fatheadz Eyewear – Cressman Sanitation/Triple X/Rider Chevy. His third-place tally was his best in the event since finishing second back in 2017.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) set the fastest qualifying time for the 31st time in his USAC National Sprint Car career on Saturday night at Eldora. That moved him into a tie for 11th all-time with Sheldon Kinser while surpassing the 30 of Pancho Carter and Justin Grant.
Meanwhile, Grant joined an elite crew of drivers who’ve earned at least 50 career USAC national series feature victories: A.J. Foyt (159), Rich Vogler (134), Mel Kenyon (111), Dave Darland (106), Tracy Hines (91), Gary Bettenhausen (82), Bryan Clauson (81), Tom Bigelow (81), Bob Wente (79), Jack Hewitt (76), Pancho Carter (70), Parnelli Jones (69), Bob Tattersall (63), Dave Steele (60), J.J. Yeley (60), Sleepy Tripp (59), Tyler Courtney (57), Bobby East (56), Bobby Unser (56), Mario Andretti (56), Roger McCluskey (55), Brady Bacon (54), Don White (53), Larry Dickson (52) and Chris Windom (52).
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Justin Grant (3), 2. C.J. Leary (8), 3. Brady Bacon (5), 4. Jason McDougal (1), 5. Chase Stockon (6), 6. Shane Cottle (4), 7. Mitchel Moles (9), 8. Matt Westfall (2), 9. Kevin Thomas Jr. (14), 10. Kyle Cummins (12), 11. Geoff Ensign (10), 12. Logan Seavey (20), 13. Emerson Axsom (13), 14. Anton Hernandez (18), 15. Brandon Mattox (21), 16. Carson Garrett (16), 17. Jake Swanson (7), 18. Jadon Rogers (15), 19. Dustin Clark (19), 20. Isaac Chapple (11), 21. Dallas Hewitt (17), 22. Robert Ballou (22). NT
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-2107, 2-Brady Bacon-2027, 3-C.J. Leary-2003, 4-Robert Ballou-1933, 5-Emerson Axsom-1852, 6-Logan Seavey-1770, 7-Chase Stockon-1583, 8-Matt Westfall-1501, 9-Jadon Rogers-1447, 10-Jake Swanson-1328.