Word travels fast from Eldora Speedway back to California in the sprint car world. It has to to keep up with Justin Grant.
The former Piqua resident scored his second straight victory at Eldora Speedway on Friday night – adding to his 4-Crown sprint car win last September – during the #LetsRaceTwo weekend at the famed high-bank, half-mile oval. Soon after his 4-Crown win his phone was blowing up with texts and calls.
“From the first time I ran there it’s been one of my favorite tracks. Back in California, that was kind of the place,” Grant said. “You didn’t know who won every weekend but you always knew who won Eldora. I wanted to win at Eldora. To be able to win a couple of times now is really special.”
On Friday, Grant, 26, led most of the 30-lap race but his lead was never safe as nine different drivers stayed in contention. He worked the track to block a few pass attempts and slammed the door on a few slide jobs, too, as he narrowly beat Troy’s Dallas Hewitt to the finish.
Hewitt was seeking his first career USAC national sprint win.
“That is probably the saddest second-place that I have ever had,” Hewitt said Friday. “It’s great to be on the podium here but I still really want that win.”
Hewitt’s night ended early on Saturday when his sprint car flipped violently during his heat race. He was transported to a local hospital and, according to reports, suffered a concussion and a hand injury.
Grant – the USAC national sprint car points leader – didn’t win on Saturday (he finished fourth) on the doubleheader weekend but still played a part in a victory. World of Outlaws three-time defending champ and current points leader Donny Schatz credited Grant with helping him pick up his eighth career win at Eldora.
“He did a masterful job leading that race (Friday),” said Schatz, who led all 30 laps Saturday. “You can learn from these young guys. He’s an awesome driver. I learned some things watching him in traffic and how he ran the track that helped me.”
California’s Robert Ballou, racing for the first time since breaking his neck in a sprint car accident last September in his home state, won Saturday’s USAC feature.
“I was pretty rusty (Friday) and it was like starting all over,” Ballou said. “In my mind this is the best place around. It’s not the same as it used to be. It’s not the house that Earl built, but it’s pretty close. There were two lanes to race on … so hats off to the track crew. This place suits my driving style. It seems like it comes natural.”
Pennsylvania’s Logan Schuchart won Friday’s World of Outlaws race.
The unique #LetsRaceTwo event is the only time the country’s top two national sprints car series – the non-wing USAC and winged Outlaws – race on the same track on the same night.
“It seems like they view our deal as a little bit scary. I feel the same way about their deal,” Grant said. “I view the Outlaws as moving pretty quick and a little bit edgy. I think they view us the same way from what I’ve heard drivers talk about. It’s being out of each others elements.”