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Grant Stays Perfect at Ocala with Third Win in a Row

Justin Grant celebrates his third-straight win at Ocala Speedway. Photo courtesy USAC Media - Photographer: Dave Olson Photo

Series News Release - USAC Media


Ocala, Florida (February 15, 2024) - Quite frankly, Florida’s Ocala Speedway has served all of Justin Grant’s banking needs throughout Winter Dirt Games XV.


After three USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature victories in three starts this year, the 3/8-mile dirt oval has been a figurative ATM for Grant and his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Bow Foundation – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.


In the process, Grant (Ione, Calif.) set a new milestone on Thursday night at Ocala with his 48th career series victory, surpassing USAC Hall of Fame inductee Tracy Hines for sole possession of fourth place all-time.


Furthermore, Grant became the first driver since Damion Gardner in 2010 to win at least three of the first four events to begin a USAC National Sprint Car season. Now, with seven overall scores, Grant has added to his grand total as both the winningest USAC National Sprint Car driver at Ocala Speedway and as the winningest driver in Winter Dirt Games history.


By doing so, Grant gave TOPP Motorsports a share of the top of the list in terms of the winningest teams in Winter Dirt Games history, tied with Dynamics, Inc. at six main event victories, turning his No. 4 into something more akin to what you might see on the launching pad at Cape Canaveral, located roughly two hours southeast of where he won Thursday night’s feature.


“Our car is lights out around here,” Grant exclaimed. "I feel like we’re about the same speed as everybody else early in the day, but by the time this place gets slick in feature time, this thing has been an absolute rocket ship.”


Grant’s currently active streak of three-straight wins at a single track began with back-to-back victories at Ocala to open the season last weekend. It’s a familiar scenario for Grant who is the only driver to achieve three consecutive wins at one track throughout the past four USAC Sprint Car seasons. Grant has actually accomplished it on two other separate occasions in that span, both coming at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, between 2021-22 and across three successive evenings in August of 2023.


Starting outside the front row on Thursday night at Ocala, Grant quickly established the lead by lap two as he glided underneath pole sitter and opening lap leader Chase Stockon on the inside of turn two, then was practically perfect for the remainder of the 30-lap distance.


Grant had opened up a 2.5 second lead over the field just before the midway point until third-running Timmy Buckwalter slipped over the cushion in turn one on lap 14 and slid to a stop. The incident also affected sixth place Brady Bacon whose horrible, no good, rotten start to the year got even worse when his right rear tire nicked Buckwalter’s rear bumper, flattening Bacon’s rubber as he attempted to avoid Buckwalter’s stalled machine, which prompted a visit to the Indy Metal Finishing Work Area for a new tire.


As a result, Bacon restarted at the tail and managed only a 13th in the final finishing order, his fourth finish of 12th or worse in five starts this season.


Just after the ensuing restart, Logan Seavey, gunning to earn his third-straight USAC win of the week after sweeping Tuesday’s twin bill at Volusia, drag raced past Stockon on the front straight to gain the second position on lap 15. That put the only two 2024 USAC winners running one and two.


Just moments later, however, USAC Rookie Trey Osborne (20th) launched over the outside guardrail in between turns three and four on the 16th lap. Osborne walked away from the incident after becoming the second driver of the night to clear the wall after Zach Daum catapulted over the turn four rail before landing outside the track. Both drivers walked away without injury.


Mere moments before Osborne’s crash, Grant overcame a bit of tentativeness on his approach into turns three and four, knowing that in order to defeat Seavey, he was going to have to slightly alter his approach.


“I was afraid to open my entry into turn three, but three and four were getting pretty thin,” Grant explained. “I know you’ve got to open your entry here to get that moisture down the front stretch. On the lap the red came out, I had done that, and it was like, ‘okay, it’s time to move.’”


During the open red flag in which crews are permitted to make adjustments on their cars and offer sage-like advice to their drivers, crew chief Jeff Walker assured Grant that they weren’t going to be beat if they were able to string together 15 more high quality laps on the board. Importantly, both driver and team were in concert and in complete agreement that it was a necessity to get off the bottom of turn four even better than they had been.


“I think I had her figured out,” Grant confidently stated. “But it was certainly nice to have Jeff come out and just get the heart rate back down, settle me down and let me know that what I was thinking was right.”


With 10 laps remaining, the top-two breakaway of the 2023 USAC national champions resumed with Grant keeping Seavey consistently at bay by two to three car lengths at the front of the field.


For the balance of the show, that’s how it remained, and when the curtain closed, that’s how it concluded. At the finish line, Grant was 0.524 seconds ahead of Seavey with Stockon third, Daison Pursley fourth and Jake Swanson fifth.


Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) increased his series point lead to 27 over Grant after recording his fifth consecutive top-three result in his Abacus Racing/CG CPAs – Indy Custom Stone – Forecheck Marketing/DRC/Stanton Chevy, just missing out on becoming the first driver since Damion Gardner in 2010-11 to score three-straight Winter Dirt Games triumphs.


“I think our car was good, if not maybe a touch better than Justin’s,” Seavey pointed out. “I tried to arch turn three one time and it was actually the same lap he arched three. We both were out in the black and he got away from us. When you’ve got a guy like Justin out front, unless a mistake happens, it doesn’t really matter if you’re faster than him or not. We ran a good race and ran a good line to get to his bumper. I thought I had a shot, but the only real shot you have is when there’s a mistake, but there weren’t any.”


For the second race in a row, Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) stepped out into the race lead on the opening lap. This time around, however, he stuck around up front to gain his best USAC result of the season thus far, a third in his KO Motorsports/Banded Ag – Superior Tank & Trailer – Dewig Meats – AMSOIL/DRC/Fisher Chevy


“Kent Schmidt has been turning the wrenches on this thing all week,” Stockon revealed. “We’ve had a fast car and had a lot of good moments, but a little luck just didn’t go our way. I think we’re inching up on these guys. I think it’ll be a trending thing to see the 5s car back up on the podium more often. These guys – Logan and Justin – have a really good pace right now. It’s pretty cool to watch these guys battle it out, but we’d just like to be in front of them while they’re doing that.”


Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) was the biggest mover of in the feature, advancing seven spots from 14th to seventh to earn Irvin King Hard Charger honors. Meanwhile, Shane Butler (Bushnell, Fla.) grabbed the final transfer spot in the semi-feature, which earned him his first career USAC National Sprint Car feature starting spot as well as ProSource Hard Work honors for the night.



HEAT & FEATURE RESULTS:


SIMPSON RACE PRODUCTS FIRST HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Matt Westfall, 2. Chase Stockon, 3. Robert Ballou, 4. Alex Bright, 5. Logan Seavey, 6. Carson Garrett, 7. Shane Butler. 1:57.91


ROD END SUPPLY SECOND HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Jadon Rogers, 2. Tye Mihocko, 3. Timmy Buckwalter, 4. Briggs Danner, 5. Kevin Thomas Jr., 6. C.J. Leary, 7. Hunter Maddox. 1:56.20


T.J. FORGED THIRD HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Brady Bacon, 2. Daison Pursley, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Trey Osborne, 5. Tom Harris, 6. Chase Howard, 7. Kobe Simpson. 1:58.32


CAR IQ FOURTH HEAT: (8 laps, top-5 transfer to the feature) 1. Kyle Cummins, 2. Joey Amantea, 3. Jake Swanson, 4. Mitchel Moles, 5. Brandon Mattox, 6. Zach Daum, 7. Robert Bell. 1:57.28


ELLIOTT’S CUSTOM TRAILERS & CARTS SEMI: (12 laps, top-4 transfer to the feature) 1. Carson Garrett, 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Chase Howard, 4. Shane Butler, 5. Hunter Maddox, 6. Kobe Simpson, 7. Robert Bell. NT


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


FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Lap 1 Chase Stockon, Laps 2-30 Justin Grant.


**Hunter Maddox flipped during qualifying. Zach Daum flipped over the turn four guardrail during the fourth heat. Trey Osborne flipped over the turn three guardrail on lap 16 of the feature.



USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Logan Seavey-384, 2-Justin Grant-357, 3-C.J. Leary-344, 4-Kevin Thomas Jr.-330, 5-Daison Pursley-297, 6-Kyle Cummins-266, 7-Robert Ballou-259, 8-Briggs Danner-257, 9-Chase Stockon-253, 10-Mitchel Moles-233.

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