Justin Grant Does It Again At Perris

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Justin Grant en route to victory Thursday at Perris Auto Speedway. (Doug Allen photo)

PERRIS, Calif. — Justin Grant and TOPP Motorsports continued their late-season hot streak with a run from the fifth row to win the opener for the 23rd annual Budweiser Oval Nationals presented by All Coast Construction at Perris Auto Speedway.

Grant steadily worked his way through the field and grabbed the lead from Tyler Courtney with two laps remaining. It was his fourth AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Championship victory in the last six races.

“We started so far in the back, I got to see it all,” Grant said.  “I kind of buried these guys tonight.  I didn’t qualify well, and we weren’t very good in the heat race.  They made some changes, got us dialed in and this thing was a rocket ship in the feature.”

Granted started 10th in the 26-car field, finding his rhythm early as Chase Stockon drove off to the lead after narrowly squeezing around Brady Bacon on the back straight for the point on the first of 30 circuits.

The night’s only red flag came on the fourth lap when C.J. Leary, Grant and Thomas Meseraull got stacked up off turn two. Meseraull ramped over the back end of Grant and flipped.

Through the middle stages, it appeared to be Courtney’s show once again as he slid Damion Gardner for second on the eighth lap and took the lead from Stockon on lap 13. Courtney led by 2.5 seconds when the yellow flag waved on lap 17 when Cody Williams stopped with a flat tire.

At that point, most eyes were on Courtney at the top of the heap while Grant scrapped his way from seventh to second in succession, passing one car each lap from lap 12 through 17 as he swiftly bolted by Stockon in turn three following the lap-17 restart.

Once a strip of rubber began to appear on the surface in the late stages, it looked to be lights out for Grant’s opportunities.  For it was easier to catch than it was to pass at the moment. With three to go, though, the car of Tommy Malcolm bounced off the turn-two wall.  As he was gathering it up, Courtney and Grant quickly swarmed.

Courtney followed Malcolm into turn three, but Grant dove to the bottom. The pair made contact, which sent Courtney up the track, while Grant motored away in the bottom lane.

Grant rolled to his third victory at PAS this season, while Courtney, Gardner, Stockon and Kevin Thomas Jr. rounded out the top five.

“I thought when it started laying rubber there, we were probably done and we wouldn’t be able to get by Tyler there,” Grant admitted. “But he got caught behind the lapper and we fired it in there.  He tried to drive around it at the last minute, but when you’re sliding across coming back to rubber, there’s not a lot you can do.”

Courtney took over the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car point lead by seven points over Thomas with two races remaining.

Thomas  set a USAC National Sprint Car single-season record for fast qualifying times, laying down his 15th fast time of the year to break Tom Bigelow’s mark of 14 set in 1978.

To see full result, turn to the next page.