INVERNESS, Fla. – L.J. Grimm held off a late challenge from 2017 series champion John Inman to win Saturday night’s Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series event at Citrus County Speedway.
It was Grimm’s first-ever series win.
Polesitter Mickey Kempgens got the jump and led the opening lap while battling side-by-side with Shane Butler.
The duo made contact exiting turn two to bring out the first caution of the evening on lap one. On the double-file restart, L.J. Grimm got the jump and assumed the point.
After the restart Butler went for a wild ride after his car made contact with another car while battling for position three-wide. Butler rode the wall before coming to a stop and bringing out the red flag. Butler was OK.
Over the next 25 laps, several battles for position were taking place throughout the field, resulting in hard racing and contact on multiple occasions.
Troy DeCaire and Joey Aguilar made contact on lap 11 entering turn two, while battling for fourth, to bring out the next caution. DeCaire rode up over the left front tire of Aguilar, spinning him around and forcing DeCaire to restart from the tail of the field.
Grimm’s lead began to dwindle, and Inman had reeled him in by lap 27. The duo made contact attempting to get around a slower car. In the process, Inman’s front nose wing was torn off and virtually every one of his brake rotors were glowing red.
At that point, it appeared Iman’s chances of winning were slim. But Inman hung with him the final 13 circuits and Grimm won by only .703 seconds over Inman.
Inman was later penalized, however, dropping him to seventh in the finishing order.
Grimm, a local driver, was greeted with loud applause from the huge crowd in attendance.
”I was running a sportsman stock car here when I was 14. Then I moved up in the modifieds. My Dad raced here before that. I’ve been coming here for probably 20 years now, so it’s pretty special,” explained Grim.
“We had Florida’s top prospects here tonight. This ranks up there with any of my wins. I’m proud of this one,” Grimm added. “I’m still new to sprint cars and hesitate with lapped cars because I don’t wanna jump a wheel and go for a ride, hurt myself, or another car. I might have hesitated too much because it gave Inman a chance late.
“Somebody was gonna have to wreck me to win tonight.”
L.J. Grimm, Joey Aguilar, Daniel Miller, Tommy Nichols, Mickey Kempgens, Stan Butler, John Inman, Travis Bliemeister, Gary Wiggins, Troy DeCaire, Bill Pettijohn, Mike Tharp, Shane Butler.