USAC: Justin Grant & Sam McGhee Continue Early Season Surge

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Justin Grant has piloted the Sam McGhee Motorsports No. 17 to the top of the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series standings. (Gene Crucean photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — Since Justin Grant and Sam McGhee Motorsports joined up in August of last season, the pair has seen their level of success soar to a new stratosphere.

When the two knocked down a non-sanctioned win in their first race together at Bloomington Speedway eight months ago, then followed it up with two-straight top-three finishes at the Badlands, everyone had the feeling that the duo was a dream pairing in the making.

And then, when their partnership resulted in a dominating performance at Eldora Speedway’s 4-Crown Nationals last September, it was clear that the dream was becoming a reality.

In 16 USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car starts, Grant and McGhee have an average finish of 3.7 together. This year alone, that average has peaked to 2.3 through six starts, which included their season-opening victory at the Winter Dirt Games in Ocala, Florida.

Without no finish worse than fourth so far and no signs of letting up, Grant and McGhee are on a roll that could turn out to be simply magical.

The magic continued Friday night at northern Indiana’s Plymouth Speedway, where the USAC National Sprint Cars made their first ever pilgrimage.

Early on in a downright chilly and wind-soaked evening, Grant’s run of success took on a bit of a turn for the worse, when he stumbled in turn four coming to the green on his qualifying lap. He took a mulligan, turning it around before giving lap number one a second shot.

In turn three, he proceeded to almost dump it before setting it down and going on to salvage a respectable eighth on his second go-around.

Two top-six qualifiers missed the invert by not transferring through their heat, providing Grant a seat on the outside of the front row, which he took full advantage of by racing to the lead up top as polesitter Thomas Meseraull slid up the track in turn two. That allowed Grant to breakaway to a substantial advantage right off the bat.

By lap three, Grant was ahead by a half-straight. By lap five, the lead was a full-straightaway and at the 10th round, Grant had packed his suitcase, bought an airline ticket and checked out to a staggering half-lap lead as he began to negotiate lapped traffic.

Though he possessed a suffocating stranglehold on all those who followed, Grant’s lead would begin to shrink mightily through the second half of the event as lappers ran high, low, top and bottom ahead of Grant.

And all the while, Boespflug chomped a significant chunk out of the interval between he and Grant.

With six laps remaining, Boespflug pulled even with Grant in turn one. The two Californians were separated by a single car length as they battled down the back straight, with the lapped car of Aaron Pierce just in front of them. Grant decided this was the time to get aggressive and took a chance, splitting Pierce and Jarett Andretti to separate himself for good.

The 26-year-old ultimately established the 30-lap mark in caution-free fashion at seven minutes and 36 seconds, in a race that saw all 22 starters finish.

Additionally, team owner McGhee revisited Plymouth Speedway victory lane for the first time in six seasons, but this time in a different role. The now 17-year-old raced to a USAC Ford Focus Young Guns Midget feature at Plymouth in 2011, when the track was still covered in pavement.

Grant remains at the top of the standings after winning his second series feature of the season, but only one point separates he and Boespflug.

Chris Windom remains third ahead of Chase Stockon and Andretti.

But the question remains: can anyone stop the magic of McGhee and Grant’s freight train?

The next shot for anyone else to get to victory lane will come when the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series visits Eldora Speedway for #LetsRaceTwo weekend at the Ohio half-mile.


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