April 6, 2014 — official release — Rich Forman photo — Lawrenceburg, Indiana — Justin Grant likes Lawrenceburg Speedway. And Saturday night, Lawrenceburg Speedway liked Justin Grant.
Two years after winning his only previous USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car event at the Indiana track, the Ione, California native returned to victory lane on Saturday night. Taking advantage of a late-race restart, Grant used the extreme upper reaches of the three-eighths mile oval to shoot to the lead and claim a popular win.
Dave Darland began from the pole on an extremely heavy race track. Darland worked the lower side of the speedway as Thomas Meseraull moved up the track, and Chris Windom quickly climbed from tenth to third while also up in the thick cushion. A caution on lap-five slowed the pace, and both Meseraull and Windom went to the pits. Windom returned after replacing a left-rear tire.
After a couple quick skirmishes on laps seven and eight, a long green-flag stretch saw Jon Stanbrough, the night’s Fast Qualifier, pressure Darland for the lead. He made the move stick on lap-ten and raced away with traffic approaching. Stanbrough weeded his way through slower cars and built up a massive lead as all eyes turned to a great battle between Grant, Jerry Coons, Scotty Weir, Brady Bacon, Chase Stockon, and C.J. Leary. Grant finally cleared that pack and ran down Darland, taking second with a handful of laps to go.
Stanbrough’s huge lead was going to be insurmountable for Grant, who appeared to be faster, until Leary appeared to break and hit the turn-one wall on lap 28. That set up a three-lap run to the checkered.
On the restart, Stanbrough bounced through turns one and two as Darland looked underneath and Grant came swooping in from the top to steal the lead down the backstretch. Grant held back a run by Darland and pulled away, taking the win, the second of his USAC National Sprint Car career, after starting 11th aboard the Mark Hery Racing – Dick’s Paint & Body #40 DRC/Claxton.
“It felt great to be up there back in this car. It felt like old times, and maybe even a little better. As soon as it got rough and hard to hang onto, I knew we had something. Running for Mark just feels like home, and we both seem to bring out the best in each other. I thought I was closing on him after we got to second, and when I saw the yellow come on, I knew it was on,” an excited Grant said.
Darland held on for second, claiming the point lead after three rounds aboard the Phillips Motorsports – Racer’s Advantage Store #71P DRC/Foxco.
“I felt like I was worn out on the second lap!” Darland quipped. “I maybe should have tried to move up at some point, but Justin runs this place well, especially up there, and I just didn’t see it being worth the risk. I was trying to squeeze the gap on the restart, but I didn’t want to crash us all, either. The Phillips bunch gave me a good car all night, and we’re content with second.”
Coons finished off a night spent battling within the top-five, as he took a strong podium finish in the Edison Motorsports – Crume Evans Insurance #10E Spike/Chevy.
“I got to the top from the beginning, and it was good for a while, but mainly in three and four we couldn’t run up there as well anymore. I had to drop down some there, and it wasn’t quite enough. It’s good to get back together in our first race of the year and start off strong at a place where we weren’t great last season,” Coons said.
Bacon rallied to finish fourth in the Hoffman Auto Racing – Mean Green #69 Triple X/Stanton Mopar, and Stanbrough held on to round out the top-five in the MP Environmental Services – Indiana Underground Construction #37RW Maxim/Fisher.
The victory put Grant one point behind Darland in the series standings, with Stockon twelve markers in arrears as the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car Series heads to their next stop on April 19th at Eldora Speedway.
RESULTS: USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series; Lawrenceburg Speedway, April 5, 2014
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. Dave Darland, 3. Jerry Coons Jr., 4. Brady Bacon, 5. Jon Stanbrough, 6. Chase Stockon, 7. Scotty Weir, 8. Hunter Schuerenberg, 9. Bryan Clauson, 10. Logan Jarrett, 11. Robert Ballou, 12. Kody Swanson, 13. Chris Windom, 14. Travis Hery, 15. Jarett Andretti, 16. Shane Cockrum, 17. Parker Price-Miller, 18. C.J. Leary, 19. Tracy Hines, 20. Chris Gurley, 21. Kevin Thomas Jr., 22. Thomas Meseraull. NT
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-9 Darland, Laps 10-28 Stanbrough, Laps 29-30 Grant.