Justin Grant Wishes Answered: Total USAC ISW Review

 

By Richie Murray – USAC Media
SPEEDWAY, iN-Thirteen years of trying. Thirteen years of frustration. Thirteen years of yearning to become a USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week champion.
All of it came to fruition in 2022 for Justin Grant, who had won from coast-to-coast in USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship competition but had this particular piece missing from his impressive racing resume.
A myriad of close calls has marked Grant’s ISW career, including in 2020 when he led the standings entering the finale, but saw it slip through his fingers.
Grant was adamant, and made it abundantly clear from the outset, that Indiana Sprint Week 2022 was going to be dictated on his terms and his alone.
“It feels incredible to finally get it done,” Grant exclaimed. “To add my name to all the huge names on that trophy, it feels like my name is a little out of place on there, but I’m happy to have it. Hats off to the guys. It’s a long week and it’s a lot of work. I can’t say enough good things about (crewman & right hand man) Dylan Cook. He works his tail off for me and 99 percent of the time, it’s just him and me on the car. He’s got a big, big workload and he handles it incredibly well.”
Only one driver finished inside the top-five of all six features. Only one driver finished inside the top-ten in all six features. For both categories, the answer was Grant as he tallied a succession of quality runs with a 2nd at Gas City, a 2nd at Circle City, a 1st at Kokomo, a 5th at Lincoln Park, a 3rd at Bloomington and another 3rd in the closer at Tri-State to become a first-time series champ.
It was a notable turn of the tables for the Ione, Calif. native who took a level-headed approach to all scenarios when finding himself on the mountaintop or dwelling in the valleys throughout the rigorous and grueling week.
“In the past, I’ve tended to fall apart in these deals when the going got tough,” Grant admitted. “I’ve worked really hard on that and tried to be more prepared this year than I’ve been in the past and I feel like it’s paid off.”
Meanwhile, longtime car owner Kevin Birchmeier of TOPP Motorsports has also been on the waiting list for several years, coming close to the Indiana Sprint Week brass ring with Tyler Courtney initially followed by Grant since 2018.
Like his driver, Birchmeier has weathered the storm and pounded up and down the road. As a result, the Rochester, Indiana car owner earned himself a seat in the coveted John Youngs-designed rocking chair, which has been a longtime tradition of the event and is presented annually to the Indiana Sprint Week entrant champion.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing initially for Grant, however. During a couple of nights throughout Indiana Sprint Week, the task required Grant to overcome being buried somewhat deep in the field. His Circle City charge to the 2nd position came from a starting spot of 12th. Likewise, his Lincoln Park run to 5th came from even deeper, back in 14th. The perseverance of those performances was substantial in Grant’s and TOPP’s pursuit of the crown.
“We had a good week, but it wasn’t without hiccups,” Grant acknowledged. “We buried ourselves a few times and had to come from deep a few nights, but our car was just so good all week, we were able to dig out of those holes when we did get in them. Dylan and I have been working really well together and we found a package that we really like and can work with.”
Six different winners emerged in the six feature events that were run: Shane Cottle (Gas City), C.J. Leary (Circle City), Justin Grant (Kokomo), Mitchel Moles (Lincoln Park), Kyle Cummins (Bloomington) and Robert Ballou (Tri-State). It marked the first time, since six years earlier in 2016, that each round featured a different winner.
Two race winners started in a double-digit number starting position. Both Cottle and Cummins began their charges to the front from outside of the fifth row (10th) during their respective triumphs.
On the wild statistic side, Cottle has now won two career Indiana Sprint Week features with both coming at Gas City (2019 & 2022) and each coming in a situation in which he led only one lap – the last one.
Grant also ended an unusual streak of four consecutive seasons in which the Indiana Sprint Week champion went winless throughout the week.
The 63-point margin of championship victory by Grant was the third largest in Indiana Sprint Week’s 35-year history. In 2000, Jay Drake prevailed by 76 points over Tony Elliott while, in 2003, J.J. Yeley stormed to the title by 75 points over Jay Drake.
Audiences were captivated by the performances of Indiana Sprint Week first-timer Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.), who not only scored his first career ISW win during the week, but also set Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifying time on five occasions in seven tries. The time trial prowess of Moles was the second best ISW performance of all-time, trailing only Richard Griffin’s six fast times in six appearances during the 1997 edition.
Eleven drivers started all six features throughout the week: Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.), Robert Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), Briggs Danner (Allentown, Pa.), Justin Grant, C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.), Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.), Mitchel Moles, Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.), Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) and Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio).
Several events were plagued by the wrath of Mother Nature. The first Saturday’s originally scheduled Kokomo round was a complete washout and rescheduled successfully to Tuesday. Sunday at Lawrenceburg witnessed unrelenting showers just as the feature was pushed to the track and was not reschedule. Wednesday’s go at the Terre Haute Action Track was the lone complete washout cancellation. Thursday at Lincoln Park saw 49 of 52 qualifiers complete their time trial run before rain hit the speedway, forcing a complete requalifying session and the continuation of the evening after a lengthy delay.
Ninety-nine drivers participated in Indiana Sprint Week with 13 United States represented: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas. California drivers won three features (Ballou, Grant & Moles), two for Indiana (Leary & Cummins) and one for Illinois (Cottle).
Three countries were represented with 96 from the United States, two from Australia (Troy Carey and Todd Hobson) and one from England (Tom Harris).
While each feature event throughout Indiana Sprint Week paid $6,000-to-win and $600-to-start, a $23,000 total purse was up for grabs for the top-eight in the final standings of the tour throughout the Hoosier state.
Grant, the new ISW champion, collected a top reward of $10,000 in addition to his weeklong earnings followed by Leary ($5,000), Bacon ($2,500), Stockon ($1,500), Moles ($1,250), Ballou ($1,100), Cummins ($900) and Axsom ($750).
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2022 USAC INDIANA SPRINT WEEK STAT LEADERS
Champion: Justin Grant
Most Wins: 1-Robert Ballou, Shane Cottle, Kyle Cummins, Justin Grant, C.J. Leary & Mitchel Moles
Most Laps Led: 58-Robert Ballou
Most Top-Fives: 6-Justin Grant
Most Top-Tens: 6-Justin Grant
Most Fast Qualifying Times: 5-Mitchel Moles
Most Heat Race Wins: Robert Ballou, C.J. Leary, Jadon Rogers & Chase Stockon
Most Feature Starts: 6-Emerson Axsom, Brady Bacon, Robert Ballou, Briggs Danner, Justin Grant, C.J. Leary, Jason McDougal, Mitchel Moles, Logan Seavey, Chase Stockon & Matt Westfall
Biggest Charge: 7/25: Circle City Raceway – Shane Cottle (22nd to 7th)
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2022 USAC INDIANA SPRINT WEEK POINT STANDINGS
POS.     PTS.      DRIVER, HOMETOWN
1            464       Justin Grant, Ione, Calif.
2            403       C.J. Leary, Greenfield, Ind.
3            399       Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, Okla.
4            393       Chase Stockon, Fort Branch, Ind.
5            374       Mitchel Moles, Raisin City, Calif.
6            367       Robert Ballou, Rocklin, Calif.
7            364       Kyle Cummins, Princeton, Ind.
8            328       Emerson Axsom, Franklin, Ind.
9            306       Jason McDougal, Broken Arrow, Okla.
10          305       Shane Cottle, Kansas, Ill.
11          293       Briggs Danner, Allentown, Pa.
12          286       Jadon Rogers, Worthington, Ind.
13          271       Matt Westfall, Pleasant Hill, Ohio
14          262       Logan Seavey, Sutter, Calif.
15          245       Kevin Thomas Jr., Cullman, Ala.
16          173       Brent Beauchamp, Fairland, Ind.
17          168       Scotty Weir, Marion, Ind.
18          164       Ryan Timms, Oklahoma City, Okla.
19          162       Tye Mihocko, Phoenix, Ariz.
20          155       Brody Roa, Garden Grove, Calif.
21          150       Jake Swanson, Anaheim, Calif.
22          137       Dave Darland, Lincoln, Ind.
23          127       Dalton Stevens, Scurry, Texas
24          112       Thomas Meseraull, San Jose, Calif.
25          104       Cole Bodine, Rossville, Ind.
26          102       Max Adams, Loomis, Calif.
27          99          Brandon Mattox, Terre Haute, Ind.
28          95          Xavier Doney, Odessa, Mo.
29          91          Carson Garrett, Littleton, Colo.
30          78          Sterling Cling, Tempe, Ariz.
31          70          Troy Carey, Tullamore, N.S.W.
32          62          Jack Hoyer, Frankfort, Ind.
33          61          Shane Cockrum, Benton, Ill.
34          60          Critter Malone, Pittsboro, Ind.
35          60          Kyle Shipley, Sun City, Ariz.
36          59          Brayden Fox, Avon, Ind.
37          50          Matt McDonald, Brownsburg, Ind.
38          50          Koby Barksdale, Norman, Okla.
39          50          Braydon Cromwell, Lone Jack, Mo.
40          48          Mario Clouser, Auburn, Ill.
41          40          Alex Banales, Lafayette, Ind.
40          Travis Berryhill, American Canyon, Calif.
40          Tom Harris, Banbury, Oxfordshire
40          Todd Hobson, Clyde, Vic.
40          Zack Pretorius, Yorktown, Ind.
46          31          Dustin Beck, Petersburg, Ind.
47          31          A.J. Hopkins, Brownsburg, Ind.
48          31          Nick Bilbee, Indianapolis, Ind.
49          30          Brandon Morin, Jasonville, Ind.
50          30          Saban Bibent, Cincinnati, Ohio
51          30          Ryan Barr, Piqua, Ohio
30          Harley Burns, Brazil, Ind.
30          Rylan Gray, Greenfield, Ind.
30          Allen Howard Jr., Terre Haute, Ind.
30          Jack James, Harlan, Ind.
30          Brady Short, Bedford, Ind.
57          26          J.J. Hughes, Jasper, Ind.
58          25          Joss Moffatt, Columbus, Ind.
59          24          Chad Boespflug, Hanford, Calif.
60          24          Kendall Ruble, Vincennes, Ind.
61          24          Jordan Kinser, Bloomington, Ind.
62          20          Stan Beadles, Owensville, Ind.
20          Colten Cottle, Kansas, Ill.
20          Geoff Ensign, Sebastopol, Calif.
20          Gabriel Gilbert, Greenwood, Ind.
20          Frankie Guerrini, San Rafael, Calif.
20          Dustin Ingle, Lima, Ohio
20          Ricky Lewis, Oxnard, Calif.
20          Hunter Maddox, Bedford, Ind.
20          Evan Mosley, Lapel, Ind.
20          Corey Smith, Russiaville, Ind.
20          Travis Thompson, Brazil, Ind.
73          10          Garrett Aitken, Paris, Ill.
10          Ryan Bond, Haubstadt, Ind.
10          Donny Brackett, Fort Branch, Ind.
10          Cindy Chambers, Bloomington, Ind.
10          Brayden Clark, Tipton, Ind.
10          Michael Clark, Brazil, Ind.
10          Andrew Cockman, Elkhart, Ind.
10          Michael Fischesser, Cincinnati, Ohio
10          Parker Frederickson, Kokomo, Ind.
10          Dickie Gaines, Mitchell, Ind.
10          Aric Gentry, Robards, Ky.
10          Ivan Glotzbach, Fillmore, Ind.
10          Matt Goodnight, Winchester, Ind.
10          Austin Graby, Lebanon, Pa.
10          Dustin Griffitts, Bloomington, Ind.
10          Brian Hayden, Fillmore, Ind.
10          Anton Hernandez, Arlington, Texas
10          Dylan Moan, Bridgeport, Ill.
10          Jerry Petty, Litchfield Park, Ariz.
10          Davey Ray, Davenport, Iowa
10          Chris Robling, Petersburg, Ind.
10          John Sluss, Indianapolis, Ind.
10          Sam Scott, Patoka, Ind.
10          Eddie Vancil, Olney, Ill.
10          Dustin Webber, Bethel, Ohio
10          Cooper Welch, Sheridan, Ind.
10          Tayte Williamson, Rushylvania, Ohio
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2022 USAC INDIANA SPRINT WEEK SCHEDULE & RESULTS
July 22: Gas City I-69 Speedway | Gas City, IN
WINNER: Shane Cottle (Hodges Motorsports #74x)
July 23: Kokomo Speedway | Kokomo, IN
WINNER: Rained Out
July 24: Lawrenceburg Speedway | Lawrenceburg, IN
WINNER: Rained Out
July 25: Circle City Raceway | Indianapolis, IN
WINNER: C.J. Leary (Michael Motorsports #77m)
July 26: Kokomo Speedway | Kokomo, IN
WINNER: Justin Grant (TOPP Motorsports #4)
July 27: Terre Haute Action Track | Terre Haute, IN
WINNER: Rained Out
July 28: Lincoln Park Speedway | Putnamville, IN
WINNER: Mitchel Moles (Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports #19AZ)
July 29: Bloomington Speedway | Bloomington, IN
WINNER: Kyle Cummins (Rock Steady Racing #3R)
July 30: Tri-State Speedway | Haubstadt, IN
WINNER: Robert Ballou (Ballou Motorsports #12)
2022 INDIANA SPRINT WEEK FEATURE WINS
1-Robert Ballou (July 30 at Tri-State Speedway)
1-Shane Cottle (July 22 at Gas City I-69 Speedway)
1-Kyle Cummins (July 29 at Bloomington Speedway)
1-Justin Grant (July 26 at Kokomo Speedway)
1-C.J. Leary (July 25 at Circle City Raceway)
1-Mitchel Moles (July 28 at Lincoln Park Speedway)
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RACE RECAPS: FRIDAY, JULY 22 – GAS CITY I-69 SPEEDWAY – GAS CITY, INDIANA:
Shane Cottle certainly possesses a flair for the dramatics at Gas City I-69 Speedway.
Three years after winning his first career USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week feature with a last lap pass at the 1/4-mile dirt oval, the Kansas, Ill. veteran did the deed once again in Friday night’s ISW opener.
Three years earlier, Cottle charged from the 18th starting position en route to victory. On this night, he got a bit of a head start, but not by much, rolling off from the 10th position, and started picking his way through the field one-by-one all the way down to the last drop.
Running second to leader Justin Grant on the green-white-checkered restart, Cottle utilized his patented maneuver on the low line to race past Grant for good, leading only a single lap in the process, but it just so happened to be the money lap.
In the end, Cottle churned out his second career Indiana Sprint Week feature victory, and the first during Indiana Sprint Week for the Hodges Motorsports/Hodges Automotive – JB Henderson – Ortega’s Appliance/DRC/J & D Chevy team.
Just how much is Cottle part of the racing fabric at Gas City? Of his nine career USAC national feature victories, six of them have come at Gas City – four sprint and two midget. And just like those instances, Cottle’s display on Friday night was quite reminiscent of his past five wins there, running a line that seems as if it was tailor-made just for him.
“I love running the bottom here,” exclaimed Cottle, the 2004 and 2009 Gas City sprint car track champion. “I’ve won a lot of races around here just like that.”
Furthermore, the 50-year-old Cottle joined an exclusive club with his triumph. He became the seventh driver over the age of 50 to win a USAC National Sprint Car main event, putting him in the same company as Bob Kinser (54), Terry Pletch (52), Dean Shirley (51), Hank Lower (51), Dave Darland (51) and Jack Hewitt (50).
FEATURE RESULTS: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Shane Cottle (10), 2. Justin Grant (2), 3. Mitchel Moles (6), 4. Robert Ballou (1), 5. Chase Stockon (5), 6. Kyle Cummins (17), 7. Scotty Weir (12), 8. Tye Mihocko (16), 9. Jake Swanson (20), 10. Emerson Axsom (7), 11. Briggs Danner (8), 12. Brent Beauchamp (11), 13. Logan Seavey (15), 14. Jadon Rogers (9), 15. Thomas Meseraull (13), 16. Jason McDougal (14), 17. Jack Hoyer (22), 18. Cole Bodine (18), 19. Matt Westfall (21), 20. Chad Boespflug (19), 21. C.J. Leary (3), 22. Brady Bacon (4). NT
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Kevin Thomas Jr. (11.673)
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Mitchel Moles (11.927)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Emerson Axsom
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: C.J. Leary
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Jadon Rogers
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat: Briggs Danner
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Brady Bacon
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Tye Mihocko
Hard Work Award: Jack Hoyer
Bryan Clauson’s Racers For Autism Bonus Bucks: Shane Cottle
Feature Hard Charger: Kyle Cummins (17th to 6th)
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RACE RECAPS: SATURDAY, JULY 23 – KOKOMO SPEEDWAY – KOKOMO, INDIANA:
Saturday night’s scheduled round of USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week at Kokomo Speedway has been postponed to Tuesday night, July 26, after continuous heavy thunderstorms hit the area Saturday morning and afternoon and are expected to continue throughout the evening.
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RACE RECAPS: SUNDAY, JULY 24 – LAWRENCEBURG SPEEDWAY – LAWRENCEBURG, INDIANA:
Mother Nature captured victory in the second round of USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week on Sunday night at Lawrenceburg Speedway.
Rain hit the 3/8-mile speedway just after 8pm Eastern time when the 23-car field was being pushed away for the start of the 30-lap feature event.
Unfortunately, despite waiting out the weather front for well over an hour, the rain and the lightning never relented once it started, forcing cancellation of the feature event just before 9:30pm.
The event is considered a complete show. The feature payout and points were shared among the main event starters. Competitors earned standard qualifying and preliminary race points. With the rain out, slated feature starters were issued 23 points while non-feature starters received 10 points toward the Indiana Sprint Week and USAC National Sprint Car standings.
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Logan Seavey (14.190)
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Mitchel Moles (13.910)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Mitchel Moles
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Nick Bilbee
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Robert Ballou
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat: Justin Grant
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Thomas Meseraull
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Logan Seavey
Hard Work Award: Cole Bodine
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RACE RECAPS: MONDAY, JULY 25 – CIRCLE CITY RACEWAY – INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA:
C.J. Leary spent the majority of Monday night’s USAC NOS Energy Indiana Sprint Week debut at Circle City Raceway tooling around the bottom in pursuit of Brady Bacon.
With five laps remaining, the Greenfield, Ind. native stood at a crossroads, whether to be a follower or whether to step out of line and forge a new path forward.
Leary chose the latter once he heard the engine of surging Justin Grant just within earshot to his outside. It took a good three laps for Leary to wind it up on the top before finally surging past the bottom-rolling Bacon with three laps to go to bring home his sixth career Indiana Sprint Week feature victory, tied with Jay Drake, Danny Smith and Kevin Thomas Jr. for sixth all-time.
“That’s the way to win a race right there,” Leary exclaimed. “I followed Brady on the bottom, and I felt like I was a bit better than him down there. I heard Justin ripping the top there late, and I went up to the top and banged the boards.”
The third win of Leary’s USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season in his Michael Motorsports/Kodiak Products – Gray Auto – Highsmith Guns – DMI/DRC/Chevy was the 19th overall of his career, moving him to within two of 1967 series champion Greg Weld for 32nd all-time.
Victory couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the 2019 USAC Indiana Sprint Week champion. After Friday night’s much ballyhooed kerfuffle – a commotion that began with Leary getting upside down on his way to the white flag at Gas City – Leary and the Michael Motorsports team spent several manhours piecing together their wrecked racecar, which was still sans a number on the right side of the tail tank on Monday night.
It was a bit of a difference in approach for Leary and Michael, which ultimately resulted in just what Leary was striving for all along, to win and to put himself back into contention for another Indiana Sprint Week title.
“After Friday night, I felt like all we could do is to come out here and try to win races,” Leary stated. “I felt like our Sprint Week title chances might have been over, but if we just keep knocking off some wins, maybe we’ll crawl back into this thing.”
FEATURE RESULTS: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. C.J. Leary (8), 2. Justin Grant (12), 3. Brady Bacon (4), 4. Chase Stockon (7), 5. Jason McDougal (3), 6. Matt Westfall (16), 7. Shane Cottle (22), 8. Jake Swanson (5), 9. Robert Ballou (10), 10. Ryan Timms (6), 11. Dave Darland (18), 12. Matt McDonald (20), 13. Brandon Mattox (P-23), 14. Briggs Danner (2), 15. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1), 16. Emerson Axsom (9), 17. Brent Beauchamp (14), 18. Logan Seavey (19), 19. Brody Roa (21), 20. Dalton Stevens (17), 21. Mitchel Moles (11), 22. Kyle Cummins (13), 23. Scotty Weir (15). NT
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Chase Stockon (12.322)
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Mitchel Moles (12.005)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: C.J. Leary
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Chase Stockon
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Robert Ballou
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat: Emerson Axsom
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Shane Cottle
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Mitchel Moles
Hard Work Award: Shane Cottle
Bryan Clauson’s Racers For Autism Bonus Bucks: C.J. Leary
Feature Hard Charger: Shane Cottle (22nd to 7th)
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RACE RECAPS: TUESDAY, JULY 26 – KOKOMO SPEEDWAY – KOKOMO, INDIANA:
Beginning with the midway point of Tuesday night’s 30-lap USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week feature at Kokomo Speedway, Justin Grant saw the race lead slip from his grip three different times.
However, the Ione, Calif. driver belied that fact with three answers of his own amid his resurgence to the lead to prevail in a near racelong tug-of-war with Robert Ballou, then fended off a late burst from Kyle Cummins in the final laps to earn his first victory of Indiana Sprint Week 2022 following runner-up results in each of the first two features run to date.
The lap-after-lap barrage of lead changes resulted in seven swaps of the number one spot between Grant and Ballou in a riveting 12-lap span during the middle portion of the event.
The exchanging of the lead that many times within a 30-lap feature tied an all-time Indiana Sprint Week record for the most lead changes in a single feature event, equaling the mark of seven set during the rounds at Lincoln Park in 2001 and Bloomington in 2016.
The last hurrah of the evening’s continuous changing of the guard went Grant’s way on this night, leading the final nine laps to score an Indiana Sprint Week feature victory for the second consecutive season at Kokomo, the third driver to accomplish the feat following Jon Stanbrough in 2006-07 and Thomas Meseraull in 2017-18.
Grant’s sixth career Indiana Sprint Week feature triumph moved him into a tie for sixth all-time alongside Jay Drake, C.J. Leary, Danny Smith and Kevin Thomas Jr. Furthermore, Grant’s 32nd career USAC National Sprint Car feature win moved him past Tyler Courtney and into 15th all-time beside 1973 champ Rollie Beale.
“Champ” is the title Grant has first and foremost on his mind as he extended his Indiana Sprint Week lead to 43 with four races remaining and his overall USAC National Sprint Car lead to a season-high 109.
This victory is also held in high regard by Grant as he became the first-two-time feature winner of the inaugural 10-race Bubby Jones Master of Going Faster series in his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – MPV Express – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy, a series which honors the memory of his late father-in-law whose family was well-represented at Kokomo afterward, standing in unison with Grant in victory lane at a place that Grant has achieved several of his most spectacular moments.
“I love winning any race at Kokomo, let alone a Sprint Week show,” Grant exclaimed. “Everybody brings the intensity; Sprint Week at Kokomo is as cool as it gets. It’s a Bubby Jones Master of Going Faster race and those feel really good to win. All the Jones family is here, and all my in-laws are here running around. It feels good to win for them.”
Additionally, no driver has mastered Kokomo Speedway since its reconfiguration in 2005 more often than Grant who picked up his 25th career win on the 1/4-mile dirt oval, surpassing both Dave Darland and Jon Stanbrough for first all-time.
“That’s really, really special. Now I’m going to try to not cry up here and look like Kody Swanson,” Grant stated with a hearty laugh. “When I first moved to Indiana, I worked for (car owner) Jeff Walker and Kokomo was where we came every Sunday. I’d come up here and watch Dave Darland and Jon Stanbrough just wax guys night-in and night-out. To win one race at a track those guys have won at is really special, but to be the all-time winner, I don’t know if I have words for that.”
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Justin Grant (4), 2. Kyle Cummins (3), 3. Robert Ballou (2), 4. C.J. Leary (6), 5. Brady Bacon (13), 6. Emerson Axsom (5), 7. Ryan Timms (9), 8. Jadon Rogers (8), 9. Chase Stockon (7), 10. Briggs Danner (16), 11. Kevin Thomas Jr. (17), 12. Logan Seavey (11), 13. Cole Bodine (22), 14. Matt Westfall (20), 15. Shane Cottle (18), 16. Brent Beauchamp (19), 17. Tye Mihocko (21), 18. Jack Hoyer (12), 19. Jason McDougal (15), 20. Mitchel Moles (1), 21. Scotty Weir (10), 22. Dave Darland (14), 23. Brandon Mattox (23-P). NT
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: C.J. Leary (12.465)
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: C.J. Leary (12.284)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Ryan Timms
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Jadon Rogers
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Chase Stockon
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat: Kyle Cummins
Chalk Racing Products Heat Race Bonus: Ryan Timms, Jadon Rogers, Chase Stockon & Kyle Cummins
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Kyle Cummins
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Scotty Weir
Bryan Clauson’s Racers For Autism Bonus Bucks: Justin Grant
Hard Work Award: Cole Bodine
Feature Hard Charger: Cole Bodine (22nd to 13th)
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RACE RECAPS: WEDNESDAY, JULY 27: TERRE HAUTE ACTION TRACK – TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA:
Wednesday night’s scheduled round of USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week at the Terre Haute Action Track has been canceled and will not be rescheduled.
Saturated grounds from Tuesday’s showers coupled with more rain on Wednesday morning have made the 1/2-mile dirt oval track unsuitable for racing competition in time for tonight’s program.
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RACE RECAPS: THURSDAY, JULY 28 – LINCOLN PARK SPEEDWAY – PUTNAMVILLE, INDIANA:
Just minutes before the clock struck midnight, Mitchel Moles put the finishing touches on a magical evening during Thursday night’s round five of USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week at Putnamville’s Lincoln Park Speedway.
However, this was no Cinderella story as the Raisin City, Calif. native moved to the front of the pack on lap two and led the final 29 laps to score his first career Indiana Sprint Week victory, and his second win thus far during an impressive USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship Rookie season.
Following a lengthy rain delay that plagued the early portion of the night, Moles slipped by Jadon Rogers on the bottom, then switched his method of operation from the low line to the high groove and back to the bottom in search of a path to victory.
Despite briefly losing the lead to a surging Brady Bacon two laps from the finish, a yellow flag reprieve positioned Moles back up front where he went unheeded for the final two trips around the 5/16-mile dirt oval following a green-white-checkered scenario.
Known for a wide-open, pound the cushion style, Moles utilized nuance and balance on this night, doing so in somewhat unfamiliar territory throughout the 30-lap distance. In the end, though, he wound up in what has become a familiar destination in the month of July – victory lane – as he’s collected his first three USAC national series triumphs in the past 20 nights (2 sprint and 1 midget).
“That’s probably the first race I’ve ever won on the bottom to be honest with you,” Moles admitted. “I’ve never been a bottom feeder guy. Jadon was bumping me on the rear bumper telling me to get going. I’m glad I could at least pick up the pace a little. He didn’t hit me on the last restart, so maybe I was doing it wrong the whole time.”
For the second-straight season, it was the same team celebrating victory following the Indiana Sprint Week round at Lincoln Park. Last year, it was Tanner Thorson scoring his first Indiana Sprint Week win and, this year, it came to be Moles driving the Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports/AME Electrical – Mesilla Valley Transportation/Spike/Stanton Chevy to glory.
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Mitchel Moles (2), 2. Jadon Rogers (1), 3. Brady Bacon (6), 4. Shane Cottle (3), 5. Justin Grant (14), 6. C.J. Leary (5), 7. Briggs Danner (12), 8. Brent Beauchamp (15), 9. Ryan Timms (13), 10. Dave Darland (7), 11. Chase Stockon (21), 12. Emerson Axsom (16), 13. Tye Mihocko (10), 14. Matt Westfall (11), 15. Mario Clouser (20), 16. Brayden Fox (8), 17. Kyle Shipley (22), 18. Logan Seavey (18), 19. Robert Ballou (17), 20. Kevin Thomas Jr. (4), 21. Jason McDougal (19), 22. A.J. Hopkins (9). NT
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Chase Stockon (12.708) & Mitchel Moles (12.797)
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Brady Bacon (12.848)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Dave Darland
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Tye Mihocko
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Brayden Fox
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat: A.J. Hopkins
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Chase Stockon
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Matt Westfall
Bryan Clauson’s Racers For Autism Bonus Bucks: Mitchel Moles
Hard Work Award: Kyle Shipley
Feature Hard Charger: Chase Stockon (21st to 11th)
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RACE RECAPS: FRIDAY, JULY 29 – BLOOMINGTON SPEEDWAY – BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA:
Following one of the most disenchanting outings of his career the night before, Kyle Cummins flipped the script on his journey to victory Friday night during round six of USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week at Bloomington Speedway.
On Thursday, the Princeton, Ind. native set fast qualifying time during an aborted rain-interrupted qualifying session, then discovered an engine issue that prematurely ended his night before the requalifying session. Forced to find another ride to finish out the night, Cummins came up short of a transfer spot to the feature and missed the show, thus abruptly ending his Indiana Sprint Week title aspirations.
One night later, the storyline was written differently despite a rocky start which saw Cummins get wiped out in his heat, forcing him to race his way into the main event through the semi-feature. Starting 10th in A-Main, Cummins streaked to fourth by lap five and held steady for the majority of the 30-lap distance in the Sheldon Kinser Memorial / Bubby Jones Master of Going Faster series race number six.
However, on a late-race restart with 13 laps to go, Cummins tried a different approach, cutting a path through the middle of the 1/4-mile red clay oval from fourth to third to second to first in a five-lap successive span that thrusted him into the lead and, ultimately, victory for the first time during this USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship season aboard his Rock Steady Racing/Ultimate Predator Boats – Mid-America Safety Solutions/Mach-1/Cummins Chevy.
Cummins became the third driver over the past five nights to hit six career Indiana Sprint Week feature victories after Justin Grant and C.J. Leary recently elevated themselves to sixth on the all-time list earlier in the week. Furthermore, Cummins’ 11th career USAC National Sprint Car triumph moved him to 48th all-time alongside Daron Clayton, Elmer George, Tommy Hinnershitz and Greg Leffler.
But this one, with the deck seemingly stacked against them following a crash that hurt their car on Monday at Circle City and engine difficulties at Lincoln Park, Cummins and the Rock Steady crew wholly and truly earned this one, even though it may have come the hard way.
“The crew has been sleeping three or four hours a night, so this is pretty special,” Cummins revealed. “We’ve driven back to North Vernon (Indiana) four nights in a row after destroying a car and switching motors. Carl Thomas gave us this motor last week just in case we needed it. I really didn’t want to have to use it. I called him yesterday and he didn’t hesitate to let us run it. We owe everything to him because we wouldn’t be here. This is his motor and it’s the only one we have left.”
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Kyle Cummins (10), 2. Brady Bacon (1), 3. Justin Grant (4), 4. C.J. Leary (2), 5. Jason McDougal (16), 6. Kevin Thomas Jr. (8), 7. Chase Stockon (9), 8. Mitchel Moles (6), 9. Jadon Rogers (7), 10. Emerson Axsom (15), 11. Dalton Stevens (3), 12. Shane Cottle (18), 13. Brandon Mattox (12), 14. Matt Westfall (22), 15. Briggs Danner (11), 16. Brody Roa (21), 17. Robert Ballou (14), 18. Logan Seavey (23-P), 19. Brandon Morin (17), 20. Carson Garrett (5), 21. Max Adams (20), 22. Koby Barksdale (19), 23. Jordan Kinser (13). NT
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: C.J. Leary (11.200)
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Mitchel Moles (11.039)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: C.J. Leary
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Jadon Rogers
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Kevin Thomas Jr.
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat: Dalton Stevens
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Dalton Stevens
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Chase Stockon
Bryan Clauson’s Racers For Autism Bonus Bucks: Kyle Cummins
Hard Work Award: Matt Westfall
Feature Hard Charger: Jason McDougal (16th to 5th)
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RACE RECAP: SATURDAY, JULY 30 – TRI-STATE SPEEDWAY – HAUBSTADT, INDIANA:
Robert Ballou and Justin Grant spent the majority of Saturday night’s 35th annual USAC NOS Energy Drink Indiana Sprint Week finale at Tri-State Speedway dueling for a feature victory.
In many cases, one driver prevails while the other walks away with empty handed disappointment that is absent the fanfare and glory.
However, in this particular instance, both exited the stage at the conclusion of the night sharing the limelight of a performance well worth the accolades.
Rocklin, California’s Ballou fended off the competition to become the sixth different feature winner of Indiana Sprint Week during its six event run.
After 13 years of trying, Ione, California’s Grant was rewarded as the Indiana Sprint Week champion for the first time in his career, rounding out his efforts with six consecutive top-five results in the series and capping the week with a third at Tri-State.
Ballou led all 30 laps from start to finish after beginning his race from the outside of the front row, then kept Grant at bay for the first 20 laps before successfully withstanding the pressure applied to him from six-time Tri-State USAC National Sprint Car victor Kyle Cummins.
For Ballou, the Indiana Sprint Week triumph was his first since taking the finale at Lincoln Park Speedway five years earlier in 2017. It was also a homecoming of sorts for Ballou who, in 2014, won his initial ISW feature in which he utilized his own No. 12. On this night, he rode the 12 to the pinnacle once again in his Ballou Motorsports/Suburban Subaru – Dragonfly Aviation – Berks Western Telecom/Triple X/Ott Chevy.
“Hard work and perseverance pay off,” Ballou noted of the collective effort from the driver, crew and sponsors that makes winning big races like this a possibility for him. “I kind of fine-tuned my racecar and threw an audible yesterday by going back to what we used to do all the time. We just finally got our groove going tonight. I wish I would’ve thrown an audible about six nights ago and things may have been a little better, but hindsight is 20/20.”
On the other hand, Grant ran second just a short distance behind Ballou for the first 21 laps of the main event before Cummins ran past with the baton to become Ballou’s new challenger for the final nine laps.
Making his Indiana Sprint Week debut in 2010, Grant had finished inside the top-five of the ISW standings three consecutive years in 2019-20-21 before finally knocking down the barrier in convincing fashion behind the wheel of his TOPP Motorsports/NOS Energy Drink – MPV Express – TOPP Industries/Maxim/Kistler Chevy with a 61-point cushion over runner-up C.J. Leary, which is the most lopsided title race in the series since Bryan Clauson’s 70-point interval eight years earlier in 2014.
“It feels incredible to finally get it done,” Grant exclaimed. “To add my name to all the huge names on that trophy, it feels like my name is a little out of place on there, but I’m happy to have it. Hats off to the guys. It’s a long week and it’s a lot of work. I can’t say enough good things about (right hand crewman) Dylan Cook. He works his tail off for me and, 99 percent of the time, it’s just him and me on the car. He’s got a big, big workload and he handles it incredibly well.”
TOPP Motorsports car owner Kevin Birchmeier (Rochester, Ind.) has also been on the waiting list for the ultimate Indiana Sprint Week glory as a champion for several years following a bevy of close calls and valiant efforts. He, like his driver Grant, weathered the storm and the forks in the road over the years to prevail with a first ISW title. By virtue of being the car entrant champ for the week, he earned the traditional rocking chair presented and constructed by master craftsman John Youngs.
FEATURE: (30 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Robert Ballou (2), 2. Kyle Cummins (5), 3. Justin Grant (1), 4. Chase Stockon (8), 5. Logan Seavey (4), 6. C.J. Leary (10), 7. Brady Bacon (15), 8. Mitchel Moles (6), 9. Jason McDougal (12), 10. Critter Malone (20), 11. Emerson Axsom (11), 12. Kevin Thomas Jr. (7), 13. Jadon Rogers (16), 14. Shane Cockrum (18), 15. Briggs Danner (9), 16. Brody Roa (17), 17. Matt Westfall (22), 18. Xavier Doney (21), 19. Dustin Beck (19), 20. J.J. Hughes (13), 21. Thomas Meseraull (3), 22. Kendall Ruble (14). NT
CONTINGENCY AWARD WINNERS:
Dirt Draft Hot Laps Fastest Driver: Thomas Meseraull (13.474)
Fatheadz Eyewear Fast Qualifier: Mitchel Moles (13.442)
Simpson Race Products First Heat Winner: Robert Ballou
Competition Suspension, Inc. Second Heat Winner: Chase Stockon
Pit Stop USA Third Heat Winner: Kevin Thomas Jr.
Rod End Supply Fourth Heat:  Thomas Meseraull
GSP Quality Driving Performance: Matt Westfall
Elliott’s Custom Trailers & Carts Semi Winner: Briggs Danner
Bryan Clauson’s Racers For Autism Bonus Bucks: Robert Ballou
Hard Work Award: Matt Westfall
Feature Hard Charger: Critter Malone (20th to 10th)
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2022 INDIANA SPRINT WEEK STATISTICS
FEATURE LAPS LED
58-Robert Ballou
41-Brady Bacon
32-Justin Grant
29-Mitchel Moles
9-Kyle Cummins
7-Briggs Danner
3-C.J. Leary
1-Shane Cottle
1-Jadon Rogers
=================
TOP-FIVE FEATURE FINISHES
6-Justin Grant
4-Brady Bacon
3-Robert Ballou
3-Kyle Cummins
3-C.J. Leary
3-Chase Stockon
2-Shane Cottle
2-Jason McDougal
2-Mitchel Moles
1-Jadon Rogers
1-Logan Seavey
=================
TOP-TEN FEATURE FINISHES
6-Justin Grant
5-Brady Bacon
5-C.J. Leary
5-Chase Stockon
4-Robert Ballou
4-Kyle Cummins
4-Mitchel Moles
3-Emerson Axsom
3-Shane Cottle
3-Jason McDougal
3-Jadon Rogers
3-Ryan Timms
2-Briggs Danner
2-Jake Swanson
1-Brent Beauchamp
1-Dave Darland
1-Critter Malone
1-Tye Mihocko
1-Logan Seavey
1-Kevin Thomas Jr.
1-Scotty Weir
1-Matt Westfall