Justin Grant Keeps On Rolling At Eldora

Justin Grant (11) leads Shane Cottle Friday night at Eldora Speedway. (Julia Johnson photo)

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Justin Grant continued his hot start to the season with his third AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Championship victory of the season during Friday’s #LetsRaceTwo feature at Eldora Speedway.

Grant began the 30-lap event from the fifth position as polesitter Kevin Thomas Jr. sprinted to the lead at the drop of the green with Chris Windom and Chad Boespflug in tow.

An incident involving Corey Smith and Nick Bilbee in turn one on the third lap would prove to be the first, and only, stoppage of the night. When racing resumed, an intense, unwavering early-race battle at the front of the pack would ensue involving Thomas, Windom and Boespflug.

Windom began to apply pressure to Thomas for the top spot by lap seven, but soon, a train that included Grant and 11th starting Shane Cottle gassed their way to the front with race leader Thomas just within reach.

Grant closed to the tail of Thomas’ tail tank by lap 10 and used a patented Eldora slider in turn three to rip the lead away as Thomas countered underneath. In a drag race to the line, Grant held the advantage by a single wheel.

Thomas charged right back at Grant after getting a run on the bottom of turn three, but Grant denied the anticipated Thomas’ slider after switching to the low line to momentarily ward off the challenge.

Meanwhile, Cottle was a man on a mission using the middle to low line to close on race leader Grant by the midway point while Thomas and Windom found their second wind and began to reel the leaders back in on the high side.

On the 18th lap, Cottle got a big run on Grant on the bottom of turn one, but Grant slammed the door to fend off the veteran driver, who was seeking his first Eldora USAC win.

Cottle refused to fade away and came back at Grant with 10 laps remaining, engaging in a side-by-side battle for the lead that now saw mid-field starters Thomas Meseraull and Dallas Hewitt enter the top-five. Lap-after-lap, the contentious scramble for position was uncertain with the top-five participating in a scramble for position that appeared as if it were a restrictor plate race at Talladega.

Grant moved back to the top in the final stages as Hewitt found a little magic of his own, slicing through the middle to third and, with four laps remaining, sliding across the front bumper of Thomas to grab second.

It was now a two-man trophy-dash between Grant and Hewitt for the win. On laps 28 and 29, Hewitt made up ground off of turn two to pull himself within the shadows of Grant. Yet, Grant played a little more defense as the sound of Hewitt’s engine was within earshot and denied Hewitt any notion of claiming the position.

On the final lap, Hewitt made one final go of it, lifting the left rear entering turn one as he kept Grant within sight. But, Grant was out of reach, holding off a torrid charge by a bevy of competitors in the second-half of the 30-lapper to score his second-straight Eldora USAC National Sprint Car victory over Hewitt, Thomas, Chase Stockon and Meseraull.

Grant was quick to pass the credit for his prowess at Eldora to the 17-year-old Sammy McGhee, who turns the wrenches on the No. 11.

“I’ve got Sammy (McGhee). That’s what I’ve figured out about this place,” Grant said. “I can’t say enough about this crew and this racecar. They all work their tails off and they do a heck of a job. It’s an amazing car to drive.”

Former series champion Robert Ballou finished seventh in his return to competition after injuries suffered last September.

For complete results advance to the next page.