Justin Grant Surprises Sprint Week Foes
LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — Justin Grant scored the biggest win of his career at Lawrenceburg Speedway Sunday, capturing the second round of Indiana Sprint Week, featuring the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series.
It was the first victory in USAC’s premier division for the young driver from Ione, Calif. Damion Gardner ran second, ahead of Coleman Gulick, Hunter Schuerenberg and Levi Jones in the drama filled 30-lap main event.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Grant said afterward with a huge grin. He had started the race 11th in Mark Hery’s Sunset Meats/S&H Nerf Bars DRC, and worked his way steadily to the front. “I came back from California three or four years ago and I’ve been chasing it since. It’s a huge relief to finally get one.”
Chris Windom, Shane Cottle, Bryan Clauson and Dave Darland battled for the lead early, with Clauson pacing the first four circuits, until Windom grabbed the lead with a wicked slide through turn four. But just four laps later, Windom got crossed up going over a bump in turn three and somersaulted across the banking.
Darland took control of the top spot and opened a dozen car-length advantage, before Clauson tracked him down and passed for the lead on the 19th circuit. With Clauson a half straightaway ahead, Cottle caught Darland on lap 23, but going into turn three Cottle’s engine began belching smoke and suddenly burst into flames. Like Windom, Cottle escaped without injury.
Clauson held off a challenge from Darland on the restart, and appeared to be headed to his second consecutive USAC sprint series win. Then Grant battled to the inside of Darland on the 29th circuit, taking second, but as they raced into the first turn on the last lap, Darland spun to avoid colliding as they both charged for the inside line in turn one.
Under the caution, USAC called Clauson into the pits for a flat tire. The team quickly changed the tire, but Clauson had to restart on the tail, behind Darland for the final two laps. Grant smoothly controlled the restart and claimed the victory by a half straightaway margin.
With a fifth-place finish, Jones closed to 25 points behind Jon Stanbrough in the national points and leads Stanbrough in the Sprint Week standings by a single point.
The series returns to Kokomo Speedway Monday, the make up date agreed to after Saturday’’s rainout.
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