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  • Spencer Frady

ISW: Grant Grabs USAC Indiana Sprint Week Win at The Burg


Justin Grant celebrates in Victory Lane at Lawrenceburg Speedway after his second 2023 USAC Indiana Sprint Week win. Photo courtesy USAC Media - Photographer: Indy Racing Images Photo

Series News Release - USAC Media


Lawrenceburg, Indiana (July 23, 2023) - With five laps remaining, hopes of winning were fleeting for Justin Grant during Sunday night’s third round of USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week Presented By Honest Abe Roofing at Lawrenceburg Speedway.


Yet that’s precisely when the Ione, Calif. native was able to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Bow Foundation – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.


After leading the initial 23 laps of the 30-lap feature, Grant could only watch as C.J. Leary passed by and pulled away from him with just a handful of laps remaining.


But then, a crazy thing little thing happened, which actually kind of went along with the theme of the night. Just when you thought you had this race figured out, suddenly, it turned on a dime. Seemingly he only thing one could expect throughout was the unexpected.


As Leary began to distance himself from Grant on lap 26, Leary got bitten by the third turn, which chewed him and spit him out, sending him flipping over several times and denying him the glory on this evening one night after winning at Kokomo Speedway.


Re-enter Grant as the leader, and this time, he was unshaken, unstirred and untouchable as he closed out The Burg with his second Indiana Sprint Week victory during the first three nights of the event, scoring dubs at both Gas City I-69 Speedway and at Lawrenceburg.


Grant’s fifth win of the USAC National Sprint Car season equaled him with Brady Bacon as the winningest series driver in 2023. Furthermore, Grant’s 39th career series victory moved him inside the top-10 all-time in that regard, knotting him up with Kevin Thomas Jr. for the 10th most wins in series history.


And this one came at the place where it all started. It’s where Grant earned his very first career USAC National Sprint Car feature triumph during Indiana Sprint Week at Lawrenceburg in 2012. Grant’s Burg score was his fifth overall series win at the track and his third during ISW at the southeastern Indiana oval after previous winning moments in 2012 and 2019.


Grant now stands fifth overall in career Indiana Sprint Week wins with eight, moving past Bryan Clauson and Leary, ironically, for sole possession of the position in the all-time rankings. Furthermore, Grant extended his lead as the winningest sprint car driver ever at Lawrenceburg’s 3/8-mile dirt oval.


It was inarguably an inauspicious beginning to the night’s main event with an hour-long rain delay hitting the speedway just as the cars were pushed off for the start of the feature the first time. When Mother Nature cleaned up her act, the event proceeded, but not for long as it turned out.


On the initial attempt at the green, wheel-to-wheel contact between second row starters Jake Swanson and Alex Bright sent Bright launching into a combination of eight flips and somersaults down the front straightaway. After taking careful precautions during the extrication, Bright was placed on a stretcher and even waved to the crowd while being loaded into the ambulance. Bright received lung contusions and a broken wrist in the aftermath of the vicious incident and vowed to return as soon he’s healed up.


On the complete restart, Grant shot out to the lead from his outside front row starting position and remained at the forefront for the majority of the contest. By lap 10, Grant had caught lapped traffic, allowing second-running Carson Garrett to close in and cut Grant's advantage in half to just a few car lengths.


At the halfway mark, Garrett showed his nose for the first time to Grant as the pair dueled for the lead in turn one on lap 16. Garrett ricocheted off the back straightaway wall in his pursuit of Grant for the lead on lap 20, but Grant escaped the clutches and extended his lead to a half-straight.


That kickstarted an unfathomable flurry of misfortune for several contenders at the front of the field, starting with Garrett on lap 23, who slammed the outside wall and grinded to a halt, the victim of a flat right rear tire that went down at the entry to turn three. The incident ended Garrett’s night with a 21st place result.


On the ensuing lap 25 restart, third-running Leary made a most spectacular move as he committed himself to the top shelf and charged around the outside of Swanson for second in turn two, then split down to the bottom of turns three and four to rip the lead away from Grant in an incredible third to first surge. It was a time that Grant remembered as the moment in which he felt the race might’ve slipped away.


“I was kind of sliding myself and I felt like I was making pretty good speed there, sliding myself and then C.J. slid me,” Grant recalled. “I felt like I really messed up because I felt we were the better car there and I was coming back to him. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for him, he got into that hole.”


Just as Grant foreshadowed, moments later, the race went from being the best of times for Leary to the worst of times as he dug in with his right rear tire in turn three and flipped over, erasing him out of the lead and the win in a fraction of a second. The crash also ended Leary’s pursuit of a complete sweep after earlier setting quick time in Honest Abe Roofing qualifying and scoring a victory in the first heat race.


Under the red flag, Grant’s wife, Ashley, signaled from the front row of the grandstands to the new race leader how Leary was able to get such a run on him, and to be on the lookout for a similar maneuver from another driver on the upcoming restart, of which there were aplenty on this night.


“Lawrenceburg, with its long, slick front straightaway, it’s hard not to get slid into one,” Grant explained. “You want to slide yourself, but then it gets to a place where you almost have to decide which end do I want to get slid on? I know I can get slid in one and two and get back to them in three and four. I messed it up once, but we got a break.”


However, the roller coaster of emotions and the carousel of calamity continued with fourth running Robert Ballou moments later with three laps remaining as his left side wheels biked up on the bottom of turn three, resulting in him barrel-rolling four times up to the outside wall before landing on all four wheels with a crashed racecar. He walked away, but the incident relegated him back to an 18th place result.


On the final restart, Grant decided to end this one once and for all, withstanding and dispelling the pressure from Swanson during the final stretch to win by a 0.486 second margin over Swanson.


Brady Bacon charged from his 22nd starting spot to take third, inserting himself on the podium with a last lap pass of Kevin Thomas Jr. on the back straight. Thomas took fourth while Daison Pursley scurried up a couple more spots on the final restart to finish fifth.


A rocky start to Indiana Sprint Week for Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) resulted in a pair of 16th place finishes at Gas City and Kokomo. But the third race was finally the charm as he grabbed his best result since winning six weeks ago during the Eastern Storm opener at Pennsylvania’s Grandview Speedway on June 13. At Lawrenceburg, he collected a runner-up result in his Team AZ Racing/Racing For Autism Awareness – Apache Transport/DRC/1-Way Chevy.


All’s well that ends well was the motto for Bacon’s adventurous evening at Lawrenceburg. The Broken Arrow, Okla. driver initially timed in third quickest during qualifying, but was deemed underweight at the scales, which disallowed his time and forced him to start at the tail for all proceeding events throughout the night. Bacon then proceeded to race from ninth to fourth in his heat race and from 22nd to 3rd in the feature to earn J & J Trucking / B & A Seal Coating Hard Charger honors aboard his Dynamics, Inc./Longworth Equipment – Mays-Shedd Sales & Service/Triple X/Rider Chevy. It wasn’t a win but might as well have been as it helped preserve his lead atop the Indiana Sprint Week standings.



FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Justin Grant (2), 2. Jake Swanson (4), 3. Brady Bacon (22), 4. Kevin Thomas Jr. (5), 5. Daison Pursley (11), 6. Mitchel Moles (7), 7. Joey Amantea (18), 8. Xavier Doney (14), 9. Emerson Axsom (15), 10. Chase Stockon (9), 11. Max Adams (12), 12. Matt Westfall (10), 13. Logan Seavey (23-P), 14. Brandon Mattox (17), 15. Sterling Cling (16), 16. Shane Cottle (19), 17. Travis Millar (20), 18. Kyle Cummins (13), 19. Robert Ballou (8), 20. C.J. Leary (6), 21. Carson Garrett (1), 22. Braxton Cummings (21), 23. Alex Bright (3). NT

(P) represents a provisional starter


USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-1381, 2-Emerson Axsom-1373, 3-Justin Grant-1361, 4-Jake Swanson-1340, 5-Kyle Cummins-1266, 6-C.J. Leary-1247, 7-Mitchel Moles-1197, 8-Robert Ballou-1123, 9-Chase Stockon-1117, 10-Daison Pursley-1106.

USAC NOS ENERGY DRINK INDIANA SPRINT WEEK PRESENTED BY HONEST ABE ROOFING POINTS: 1-Brady Bacon-217, 2-Justin Grant-212, 3-Kevin Thomas Jr.-190, 4-Emerson Axsom-180, 5-Robert Ballou-169, 6-Mitchel Moles-160, 7-C.J. Leary-149, 8-Shane Cottle-134, 9-Carson Garrett-132, 10-Kyle Cummins-130.

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