Grant sweeps opening weekend for USAC Sprints in Florida


Justin Grant’s winning performance wasn’t exactly how he drew it up, so to speak, during Friday night’s USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season opener at Florida’s Ocala Speedway on Feb. 9.

In fact, once Grant took the lead from Brady Bacon five laps from the finish line, he would rather have just driven away scot-free to victory while not having to dwell on any mixed feelings about a subsequent victory celebration.

Nonetheless, on occasion in the sport of auto racing, the best-laid plans can go awry. Soon after taking, losing, then retaking the lead from Bacon on Lap 26, Grant’s car kicked sideways in Turn 4 directly into the path of Bacon.

Bacon attempted to avoid the idle Grant but clipped his right front tire into Grant’s left rear. As a result, Grant’s car got reignited, then straightened out and continued on while Bacon took the brunt of the misfortune, spinning to a stop.

Grant traveled the final five laps on the 3/8-mile dirt track toward victory in his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Bow Foundation – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.

The parallels of this year’s season opener and the 2023 lid lifter at Ocala are uncanny. A year ago, Bacon performed a half-spin in Turn 4, then carried onto victory, where he surpassed Jack Hewitt on the series’ all-time win list.

For Bacon, that particular performance moved him into a tie for the all-time lead in career Winter Dirt Games victories with five alongside Damion Gardner. Similarly, this time around, Grant’s victory was his fifth in the yearly annual event, elevating him to the top line with Bacon and Gardner.

Grant’s score was monumental in the USAC record books, as well, with this being the 46th feature win of his USAC National Sprint Car career, tying himself with Hewitt for a share of fifth place on the all-time list.

“That’s really, really cool,” Grant said upon learning of the feat. “I got to do a stint in Ohio driving for Mark Hery. I learned a lot and learned a lot of racecraft there, and I was able to develop a lot of what I do now racing around Ohio racetracks with Mark. Jack was always around in those days. It’s cool to tie him, and it’s really cool that we have those lists so that we can look back at the heroes and legends of our sport. Being able to climb up the list among these giants is an absolute dream come true. I never thought I’d win a single USAC Sprint Car race, so to be climbing up through there with those guys and to be tied with Jack Hewitt on the all-time wins list, it means a lot, and it’s very special to me.”

The win proved to be Grant’s ninth in his last 18 USAC National Sprint Car starts dating back to July 2023. Furthermore, it was Grant’s first season-opening triumph with the series since 2017, also at Ocala.

Grant goes back-to-back in Florida

One night after moving into the top five on the all-time USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship feature win list, Justin Grant rose even higher in the record books during the Feb. 10 second round of Winter Dirt Games XV at Florida’s Ocala Speedway.

Starting fourth for the second consecutive program, Grant blitzed past Kevin Thomas Jr. with 10 laps remaining to earn his second victory in as many nights, this one worth $7,500, behind the wheel of the TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – Bow Foundation – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy.

The 47th career series triumph for Grant subsequently moved him ahead of Jack Hewitt on the list and into a tie for fourth all-time alongside Tracy Hines, the 2002 USAC National Sprint Car titlist.

When Grant arrived on the USAC scene in 2010 and during his formative years on the trail in the ensuing years, Hines was among those who took Grant under his wing, showing him the ropes and sharing his knowledge with Grant to help him find his footing in the sport.

All these years later, here they both are near the top of a historic list that is reserved only for the greatest the sport has ever seen.

“Tying Jack was special, but tying Tracy means a lot to me personally,” Grant said. “Jack was a heck of a racecar driver, but I know Tracy really well. Tracy has helped me through a lot of the deepest ruts and the darkest times in my racing career. Tracy has always been there to help me through it, whether it’s injuries or switching rides or losing rides or whatever it is. Tracy gets a rap as being a bit of a hard ass, but Tracy’s a really good guy to a lot of us younger racers and helped teach a lot of us how to do this and how to come along. I appreciate everything he did for me, and it’s an honor to be tied with him.”

Furthermore, Grant also finds himself in select company as just one of 11 drivers to win the first two USAC National Sprint Car features in a season: Jud Larson (1965), Larry Dickson (1970), Pancho Carter (1978), Rich Vogler (1987), Robbie Stanley (1993), Brian Tyler (1998), Tracy Hines (2002), Jay Drake (2004), Damion Gardner (2010), Brady Bacon (2020) and now himself (2024).

Seavey takes USAC at Volusia

Throughout the past few years, we’ve witnessed Logan Seavey accomplish a myriad of feats that have not been achieved by any other individual in generations.

In 2021, he became the first driver to win on all three USAC national season finales on dirt. In 2023, he captured two USAC national victories at two different tracks within a single day. Later that same season, he swept the USAC portion of the 4-Crown Nationals. The list goes on and on.

On Feb. 13 at Florida’s Volusia Speedway Park, Seavey added yet another astounding achievement to his ever-growing list. On this night, the Sutter, California, racer did something no other driver has done in more than 22 years – winning multiple USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship features in a single day.

Fellow Californian Bud Kaeding was the most recent to go back-to-back on the same night in October 2001 at Terre Haute Action Track. Seavey’s performance was the 18th occasion in which a driver swept both ends of a USAC National Sprint Car doubleheader at the same track on the same day.

The others to accomplish the feat are Jim Hurtubise (1961 Langhorne), Roger McCluskey (1966 Terre Haute), Mario Andretti (1967 Oswego), Greg Weld (1968 Reading), Sammy Sessions (1969 Pocono), Pancho Carter (1973 Winchester), A.J. Foyt (1974 Indiana State Fairgrounds), Tom Bigelow (1974 Minnesota State Fairgrounds), Marvin Carman (1975 Winchester), Pancho Carter (1976 Eldora), Pancho Carter (1976 Winchester), Tom Bigelow (1977 Indiana State Fairgrounds), Pancho Carter (1977 Winchester), Steve Chassey (1979 Winchester), Billy Cassella (1979 Eldora), Doug Wolfgang (1991 Tri-City) and Bud Kaeding (2001 Terre Haute).

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