Rossburg, Ohio – Justin Grant threw a slidejob into turn-one on the final lap of Saturday night’s 30-lap “Mother of All Sprint Car Weekends” finale for the AMSOIL National Sprint Cars to deny C.J. Leary his first-career win, with Grant picking up a thrilling victory to cap a busy weekend at Eldora Speedway. The Ione, California driver used a lapped car as a pick just past the white flag and came up in front of Leary, navigating the final half-lap to pick up his first win of the season.
Leary got the jump from the pole over Grant, and those two set off on a one-on-one duel through traffic for the entire green-to-checker distance. Behind them, Tracy Hines quickly moved to third as Robert Ballou came from seventh to assault rookie Aaron Farney for the fourth spot.
Chase Stockon, who set ProSource “Fast Time” for the second-straight night, was the man on the move early, coming from tenth into the top-five on lap nine with huge slide-jobs. Stockon got past Ballou and Farney in successive laps to take fourth on lap ten and set sail for Hines in the third spot.
Just past halfway, Stockon began to noticeably lose speed. He was fading back out of the top-five while up front, Leary and Grant stayed close as they drew away from Hines when the race hit its final ten laps. It appeared Grant may have lost his chance at the win when we he was held up in traffic with eight laps to go, but he rebounded and then turned his fastest lap of the race on lap 26.
As the duo hit two to go, Grant entered turn-one right on Leary’s tailtank. He followed him into turn-three on the cushion but turned down the track on exit with a run to the flagstand. As they encountered two cars just ahead, Grant dove to the bottom and slid up with the lead, bringing home the Mark Hery Motorsports – Dick’s Paint & Body #40 DRC/Claxton .511-seconds ahead. The race was completed in under eight and a half minutes.
“It’s huge to win here and put my name on the list of guys who have won USAC sprint car races here. Eldora Speedway is such a special place, and it’s awesome to be in that list of drivers. This car has always been fast here, with a lot of podiums and top-fives, but we finally pulled one off! We were basically flat-out all the way around tonight with the track being so smooth and fast on entry, which makes it tough to make a pass. I waited for him to bobble, and it just never came, but luckily we caught a car right at the white to give me that chance at the win,” Grant said.
Leary again just missed out on his first series win, but finished an impressive weekend that saw him on the podium both nights in the Leary Construction Company – Green Tech Lubricants #30 DRC/Claxton Mopar.
“I’m pretty heartbroken. To lead 29 and a quarter laps and lose it like that is tough to take. We just caught a car at the very worst spot, and Justin was back there and able to see it coming. Hat’s off to him for a great, clean move to beat us, but I just really hate to miss out on that first one for me and my team. The place was fast tonight, and it made it tough to get through traffic at times. We’ll try not to be too down – running top-three both nights surely exceeded our expectations coming over here,” Leary said.
Hines held onto third, nearly six seconds ahead of his closest challenger in his The Carolina Nut Company – MPHG Promotions #4 DRC/Stanton Chevy.
“We could stay right with them, but lapped traffic made a huge difference tonight and let them get away a little late in the race. Our package has been really consistently fast lately with so much grip, so I’m just trying to keep it free enough. It was tough to do much with guys as fast as it was, so you kinda had to hold your ground a lot. I was watching to see those guys have an issue with the cushion at some point, and give myself some room to avoid them and move past. We’ll just keep our mind straight and keep digging,” Hines said.
Farney notched his best career finish in the DCT Racing – Brettnacher Farms #15F Maxim/Ott, holding off Robert Ballou, who took over the point lead in the Blakesley Auto – MPHG Promotions #12 Maxim/Ott. He now sits two points ahead of Stockon, who wound up ninth.
AMSOIL USAC SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP RACE RESULTS: May 9, 2015 – Rossburg, Ohio – Eldora Speedway
QUALIFYING: 1. Chase Stockon, 32, 32 TBI-16.432; 2. Aaron Farney, 15F, Farney-16.544; 3. Tracy Hines, 4, THR-16.834; 4. Jon Stanbrough, 81, Stanbrough-17.051; 5. Brandon Whited, 15, Whited-17.063; 6. Chris Windom, 21x, Pollock-17.206; 7. Justin Grant, 40, Hery-17.224; 8. C.J. Leary, 30, Leary-17.375; 9. Robert Ballou, 12, Ballou-17.408; 10. Dallas Hewitt, 16, Hewitt-17.451; 11. Dave Darland, 71p, Phillips/Curb-Agajanian-17.498; 12. Brady Bacon, 69, Dynamics-17.511; 13. Kody Swanson, 63, DePalma-17.600; 14. Kevin Thomas Jr., 17RW, Dutcher-17.684; 15. Matt Goodnight, 39, Goodnight-17.737; 16. Landon Simon, 24, LSR-17.741; 17. Adam Cruea, 83, Cruea-17.802; 18. Daron Clayton, 66, Amati-17.835; 19. Tyler Hewitt, 24p, Paul-17.916; 20. Robert Bell, 71, Bell-18.020; 21. Jerry Coons Jr., 10E, Edison-NT.
FIRST HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Simon, 2. Grant, 3. Stockon, 4. D.Hewitt, 5. Stanbrough, 6. Swanson, 7. T.Hewitt. 2:10.42
SECOND HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Thomas, 2. Leary, 3. Darland, 4. Farney, 5. Cruea, 6. Whited, 7. Bell. 2:08.77
THIRD HEAT: (8 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Clayton, 3. Windom, 4. Hines, 5. Bacon, 6. Goodnight. 2:11.73
FEATURE: (30 laps) 1. Justin Grant, 2. C.J. Leary, 3. Tracy Hines, 4. Aaron Farney, 5. Robert Ballou, 6. Dave Darland, 7. Jon Stanbrough, 8. Brady Bacon, 9. Chase Stockon, 10. Kevin Thomas Jr., 11. Chris Windom, 12. Dallas Hewitt, 13. Landon Simon, 14. Kody Swanson, 15. Adam Cruea, 16. Brandon Whited, 17. Tyler Hewitt, 18. Robert Bell, 19. Matt Goodnight, 20. Daron Clayton, 21. Jerry Coons, Jr. 8:26.25
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-29 Leary, Lap 30 Grant.
NEW AMSOIL USAC NATIONAL SPRINT POINTS: 1-Ballou-688, 2-Stockon-686, 3-Darland-664, 4-Bacon-626, 5-Stanbrough-588, 6-Thomas-578, 7-Hines-569, 8-Leary-557, 9-Windom-419, 10-Grant-405.
NEXT AMSOIL NATIONAL SPRINT RACE: May 15 – Gas City, Indiana – Gas City I-69 Speedway
-USAC Press Release. Photo Credit: USAC