Joey Logano third in Modified debut; Chase Elliott 16th in USAC

Logano Elliott
@DirtCar_Racing, Twitter

Joey Logano finished third in a field of 19 UMP Modifieds at Volusia Raceway Park in Barberville, Fla. while just up the road Chase Elliott was 16th in his USAC Midget debut Friday at Bubba Raceway Park in Ocala, Fla.

Logano was on hand at the 50th DirtCar Nationals to gain some dirt track experience prior to NASCAR running their first race on that surface since 1970 when Richard Petty won a 200-lapper at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, NC.

In a race won by former NASCAR Cup driver David Reutimann, Logano started dead last after the race was set by points. The race was slowed by numerous cautions that reset the field and allowed both Reutimann, who started 15th, and Logano to move steadily through the field. Logano was able to sidestep most of the carnage, sustaining significant damage only in the closing laps when John Baker spun into the right side of Logano’s car during a battle for third with Jesse Rupe.

“I only got one gear, and it was to go,” Logano told DIRTVision after the race. “It was a good time, I finished third, that’s great, and learned a little bit. Got a little bit of damage to fix, and we’ll come back at it tomorrow night.”

Logano was racing a car prepared by Ryan Flores, one of the members of Team Penske.

Flores and Logano tested on the 4/10-mile Friendship Motor Speedway in Elkin, NC before the race. The track is D-shaped like Volusia, but a touch smaller than the half-mile track.

Logano was denied the opportunity to run Saturday night when the event fell to rain, but he will get another shot behind the wheel on Sunday.

Logano also has plans to race in the Bristol Dirt Nationals, which will be held before the NASCAR Cup weekend.

Friday night’s show at Volusia featured five Main events. Other drivers Friday night at Volusia with a NASCAR connection included Justin Allgaier who was second in his Main, David Stremme (12th), Kenny Wallace (15th), Ken Schrader (19th) and Justin Haley (20th).

USAC was also scheduled for two nights in Florida this weekend. Elliott has chosen Midgets for his dirt tutorial.

In the first of two races, rain interrupted the USAC show Friday night and forced it to finish on Saturday. The race was postponed 13 laps into the 30 Lap Main, so the final 17 laps were run during the day after race started under the lights.

With a time of 14.534 seconds, Elliott set the 16th-fastest time in his USAC debut, about a half second off the pace of the fastest qualifier, Kevin Thomas Jr.

The top four advanced from their heats into the Main. Elliott finished sixth and was forced to race the Last Chance Qualifier to make the show. Six drivers transferred from the LCQ; Elliott finished fifth in that race and was able to make the big show, but since he was there for experience, running the LCQ gave him 12 more laps on the track.

Elliott was 18th in the Main in a race won by Buddy Kofoid.

In December, Elliott finished third and fourth in two features at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, NC, in his first-ever race in a Midget.

Elliott also ran in the 2021 Chili Bowl Nationals and finished seventh in the F-Feature.

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night / DB3 Inc.

On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.

Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)