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  • Spencer Frady

Grant Goes Back-to-Back at Ocala

Justin Grant celebrates after his second consecutive victory at Ocala Speedway to open the 2024 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car season. Photo courtesy USAC Media - Photographer: John DaDalt Photo

Series News Release - USAC Media


Ocala, Florida (February 10, 2024) - One night after moving into the top-five on the all-time USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature win list, Justin Grant rose even higher in the record books during Saturday’s second round of Winter Dirt Games XV at Florida’s Ocala Speedway.


Starting fourth for the second consecutive program, Grant (Ione, Calif.) blitzed past Kevin Thomas Jr. with 10 laps remaining to earn his second victory in as many nights, this one worth $7,500, behind the wheel of the TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Bow Foundation – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.


The 47th career series triumph for Grant subsequently moved him ahead of Jack Hewitt on the list and into a tie for fourth all-time alongside Tracy Hines, the 2002 USAC National Sprint Car titlist. When Grant arrived on the USAC scene in 2010, and during his formative years on the trail in the ensuing years, Hines was among those who took Grant under his wing, showing him the ropes and sharing his knowledge with Grant to help him find his footing in the sport.


All these years later, here they both are, near the top of a historic list that is reserved only for the greatest the sport has ever seen.


“Tying Jack was special, but tying Tracy means a lot to me personally,” Grant explained. “Jack was a heck of a racecar driver, but I know Tracy really well. Tracy has helped me through a lot of the deepest ruts and the darkest times in my racing career. Tracy’s always been there to help me through it, whether it’s injuries or switching rides or losing rides or whatever it is. Tracy gets a rap as being a bit of a hard ass, but Tracy’s a really good guy to a lot of us younger racers and helped teach a lot of us how to do this and how to come along. I appreciate everything he did for me and it’s an honor to be tied with him.”


Furthermore, Grant also finds himself in select company as just one of 11 drivers to win the first two USAC National Sprint Car features in a season: Jud Larson (1965), Larry Dickson (1970), Pancho Carter (1978), Rich Vogler (1987), Robbie Stanley (1993), Brian Tyler (1998), Tracy Hines (2002), Jay Drake (2004), Damion Gardner (2010), Brady Bacon (2020) and now himself (2024).


But more anything, the back-to-back victories indicate a superb start to the season that now encompasses three-straight USAC National Sprint Car wins dating back to the end of the 2023 campaign. In his last 19 series starts, Grant has conquered victor in 10 of them, all of which came soon after master mechanic Jeff Walker joined TOPP Motorsports, forming a combination that has won far more since midsummer of July 2023 than any other team.


“Jeff and I have been racing together a long time,” Grant reminisced. “We speak the same language and it’s a ton of fun racing with him. He’s really, really sharp and he makes me the best that I can be. We come in and we want to be better every time. Every time I come in, he thinks the car needs to be better and I think I need to do a better job behind the wheel. So, we get together and try to make it happen.”


Initially, pole sitter Joey Amantea zipped out to lead the first three laps of his USAC National Sprint Car career. However, third-starting Thomas Jr. soon made his move on Amantea, swiping the top spot with a turn one slider on lap four. It was also a historic outing for Thomas who, on this night, became the 11th driver to reach the 400 career feature start mark with the series.


Meanwhile, further on back in the field, the battle for fifth raged on between Chase Stockon and Robert Ballou. Earlier in the night, Stockon grabbed his 33rd career Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifying time in USAC National Sprint Car competition, tying him with Grant for 11th all-time. Good fortune did not find Stockon in the feature on lap nine, however, as he went topside in turn three while Ballou combed the bottom. The two ultimately collided somewhere in the middle, with Stockon getting the worst end of the situation as he briefly became airborne before landing on all fours and sliding backwards to a stop beyond the cushion in turn four. Stockon restarted but managed only an 18th place result.


When action resumed, Thomas opened his lead to 1.4 seconds as the race neared the halfway mark. Yet on lap 14, 10th running Brady Bacon slipped off turn two and spun to a stop while Kyle Cummins (14th) also spun to a halt while attempting an evasive maneuver. Bacon wound up 12th after the restart while Cummins had to settle for 19th.


Grant, who had run third throughout the duration thus far, soon flexed his muscles. By lap 15, he had moved to second with an up-and-under move on Amantea at the exit of turn four. Over the next five laps, Grant swiftly sliced into Thomas’ 0.8 second advantage, and found himself within a couple car lengths by lap 20. In turn four, Thomas drifted off the bottom, swinging the door wide open for Grant to burst into the lead and straight into the history books.


“You don’t get too many opportunities here at Ocala, so you’ve got to pounce on them when they present themselves,” Grant laid out. “It was almost better to be in second there because I didn’t feel like I was really very good in three and four either. I was able to start moving around and seeing what worked better judging off KTJ, but he didn’t have that luxury. So, we were able to start getting in really high and getting a little bit of cushion to drive across. I’d gotten a couple really good runs, but I’d get to his back bumper, then have to lift. It was like, ‘man if he doesn’t miss it off four, I don’t know what I’m going to do here.’ Then, fortunately, it timed out right. I had a good run then he missed it off four and we were able to slip by.”


Grant’s 1.786 second margin of victory made him the winningest driver in the 15-year history of Winter Dirt Games. His sixth score broke a tie he had held for exactly one day alongside Damion Gardner and Bacon.


Kevin Thomas Jr. came home second with Logan Seavey third, C.J. Leary fourth and ProSource Hard Work award winner Robert Ballou fifth. Alex Bright took sixth after starting 18th, which earned him Irvin King Hard Charger honors.


For Thomas (Cullman, Ala.), two races into his full-time role with Rock Steady Racing, performed admirably, leading a race-high 16 laps while giving the new pairing its best result thus far in the Inferno Armor – Eddie Gilstrap Motors – Creative Finishing/Mach-1/Stanton Chevy.


Straight out of the box, Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) put the new Abacus Racing ride on the podium with a third-place finish in each of its first two starts in the CG CPAs – Indy Custom Stone – Forecheck Marketing/DRC/Stanton Chevy.



Heat and Feature Results:


SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Jake Swanson, 2. Matt Westfall, 3. Joey Amantea, 4. Kevin Thomas Jr., 5. Chase Stockon, 6. Brady Bacon, 7. Hunter Maddox. NT



ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Tom Harris, 2. Briggs Danner, 3. Jadon Rogers, 4. Daison Pursley, 5. Alex Bright, 6. C.J. Leary, 7. Chase Howard. 1:58.69



T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Garrett, 2. Kyle Cummins, 3. Timmy Buckwalter, 4. Logan Seavey, 5. Trey Osborne, 6. Zach Daum, 7. John Mollick. 1:58.17



FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Robert Ballou, 2. Justin Grant, 3. Tye Mihocko, 4. Mitchel Moles, 5. Mark Smith, 6. Brandon Mattox, 7. Shane Butler. 1:58.20



ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (10 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. C.J. Leary, 2. Zach Daum, 3. Brady Bacon, 4. Brandon Mattox, 5. Chase Howard, 6. John Mollick, 7. Hunter Maddox. 2:31.17 (New Track Record)



FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Justin Grant (4), 2. Kevin Thomas Jr. (3), 3. Logan Seavey (5), 4. C.J. Leary (11), 5. Robert Ballou (10), 6. Alex Bright (18), 7. Daison Pursley (2), 8. Joey Amantea (1), 9. Briggs Danner (14), 10. Tye Mihocko (16), 11. Timmy Buckwalter (15), 12. Brady Bacon (17), 13. Jake Swanson (7), 14. Mitchel Moles (20), 15. Carson Garrett (9), 16. Jadon Rogers (23), 17. Matt Westfall (22), 18. Chase Stockon (6), 19. Kyle Cummins (24), 20. Trey Osborne (19), 21. Brandon Mattox (13), 22. Mark Smith (21), 23. Zach Daum (12), 24. Tom Harris (8). NT



USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-162, 2-Logan Seavey-147, 3-C.J. Leary-146, 4-Kevin Thomas Jr.-139, 5-Robert Ballou-132, 6-Briggs Danner-119, 7-Jake Swanson-105, 8-Daison Pursley-105, 9-Joey Amantea-99, 10-Alex Bright-96.

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