Justin Grant won the Hangtown 100 USAC National Midget race at Placerville (Calif.) Speedway in a race that also featured the last two NASCAR Cup champions, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott.
The $20,000 payday, the most lucrative of Grant’s time behind the wheel of a midget, was the third win of the season and eighth of his USAC Midget career – and it came after an up-and-down effort in Thursday and Friday night’s preliminaries.
Grant, who finished third in Night 1 of the three-day show and 11th in Night 2, had to overcome a seventh-place starting position and a challenge from Buddy Kofoid to take the checkers. Both drivers had to come from deeper in the pack than they would have liked after Kofoid drew the sixth starting position.
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With Grant’s win, he tied Kofoid for 80th on the all-time USAC Midget wins’ list, along with Tony Bettenhausen, Merle Bettenhausen, Brady Bacon, Kenny Irwin, Jr. and others.
“The track was really kind of momentum-based there,” Grant said in a series’ release. “You got on a long run, and it was harder and harder to capitalize the more a guy could get in his rhythm. Buddy was killing us on the starts there early but this car really came around late. I kind of figured out in (Turns) 1 and 2 I could enter outside his right rear a little bit and not lose any steam and have way better angle up off 2 and then stay in the moisture down the backstretch.”
Grant assumed the lead with 14 laps remaining after passing Kofoid, who led a race-high 66 laps. Logan Seavey rounded out the podium.
Deeper in the pack, it was a disappointing night for NASCAR stars Larson and Elliott.
Suffering from a poor draw, Larson started deep in the field after his son Owen Larson drew the 12 pill. While navigating traffic, Larson’s first incident came on Lap 12 when he was swept into an accident triggered by Brenham Crouch and Tanner Carrick. After retreating to the work area, Larson restarted at the tail of the field and was charging to the front when disaster struck again.
Larson was up to sixth on Lap 67 with a shot at victory before he jumped the cushion and barrel-rolled over the banking. Remarkably, after another trip to the work area, he was able to rejoin the fray and finished 18th in the 28-car field.
Larson won the 30-lap Main on Night 2 of the Hangtown 100 weekend and finished sixth in Night 1.
The event was less exciting for Elliott, but he managed to gain a little more midget experience. Placed in the field via a promoter’s option, he started 28th and finished 20th.