By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Gas City, Indiana (September 20, 2022)………Series point leader Justin Grant knows victory all too well at the James Dean Classic, experiencing it during the most recent edition of the event in late 2020 at Indiana’s Gas City I-69 Speedway.
Now, this Thursday night, September 22, he has even more on his plate as he carries a slimmed down 63-point lead as he pursues his first USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship crown, and another win would help cement his case while also placing him as the 26th driver to reach 50 career USAC National feature wins.
The 49-time winner across all three of USAC’s national divisions chimes in regularly as a frontrunner at the James Dean Classic. He’s also been 3rd in 2019 and 8th in 2018.
Grant is one of two past “James Dean” winners in the field along with Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) who scored the inaugural win in 2018 and was 4th in 2019. KTJ has won two of the past four USAC National Sprint Car features this season.
Shane Cottle (Kansas, Ill.) has won four career USAC National Sprint Car features at Gas City dating to 2006. He won for the second occasion in 2008, again in 2019 and once more this past July during Indiana Sprint Week. Cottle has also added two track championships along the way in 2004 and 2009. At the 2020 James Dean Classic, Cottle charged from 15th to finish 5th.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) has won two of the past four USAC National Sprint Car features at Gas City, but he finished 21st in his only James Dean appearance in 2020. The 2018 USAC National Midget champ captured Indiana Sprint Week feature wins at Gas City in both 2020 and 2021.
Four-time USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car champ Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) won with USAC at Gas City in 2015 and has been a top-10 finisher at the James Dean Classic two years running – 7th in 2019 and 2nd in 2020. The 10-lap track record holder set quick time during qualifying at the 2020 event.
Chase Stockon (Fort Branch, Ind.) can count himself as a winner at Gas City, taking the opening round of Indiana Sprint Week in 2015. Along with Chris Windom, he’s the only driver to finish inside the top-five of all three James Dean Classics with a 3rd in 2020 and a 5th in both 2018 and 2019.
C.J. Leary (Greenfield, Ind.) became a Gas City winner during Indiana Sprint Week in 2017. The 2019 series champion scored a best of 2nd at the first James Dean Classic in 2018, then was 6th in 2019, the same year in which he also recorded fast time during qualifying.
Gas City track champions Scotty Weir, Thomas Meseraull and Max Adams have all had their share of successes at Gas City. Marion, Indiana’s Weir, the 2013 and 2021 titlist, captured his only career USAC National Sprint Car win at the track in 2016. He was a best of 11th at the James Dean Classic in 2019.
One-lap track record holder Meseraull (San Jose, Calif.), the track champ in 2010 and 2019, took 21st at the 2019 “James Dean.” The Gas City king in 2020 was Max Adams (Loomis, Calif.), a 10th place James Dean Classic finisher in 2019.
USAC National Sprint Car winners Robert Ballou, Jason McDougal and Matt Westfall return to the fold at Gas City. The 2015 USAC champion, Ballou (Rocklin, Calif.), went 18th to 8th at the JDC in 2020. Jason McDougal (Broken Arrow, Okla.) tallied an 8th in the 2019 Dean Classic and was 5th during Indiana Sprint Week in July 2021. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) garnered 12th place results in back-to-back James Dean’s in 2018 and 2019.
Back in the James Dean Classic lineup this Thursday are Princeton, Indiana’s Kyle Cummins (7th in 2018) and a 6th place finisher this past July, plus Worthington, Indiana’s Jadon Rogers (7th in 2020), Terre Haute, Indiana’s Brandon Mattox (11th in 2020) and Arlington, Texas’ Anton Hernandez (22nd in 2020).
Notable James Dean Classic USAC Sprint Car debuts will be turned in by the leading Rookie in USAC National Sprint Car points, Emerson Axsom (Franklin, Ind.), who earned a 10th during July’s visit and was a 5th place finisher with the midgets during the JDC in 2020.
Fellow impressive USAC National Sprint Car Rookie Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) set quick time and finished 3rd during his debut sprint car run at Gas City this past July. Meanwhile, Jake Swanson (Anaheim, Calif.) finished 9th in July.
This year’s Bloomington Speedway sprint car champ Geoff Ensign (Sebastopol, Calif.) will get his first shot at the Baldwin-Fox number 5 this Thursday night. It’s the same team which won the Indiana Sprint Week round at Gas City in 2021 with driver Logan Seavey.
Thursday’s James Dean Classic at Gas City is a doubleheader with the USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship and USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship on September 22. The event honors the memory and life of the late film star, cultural icon and budding auto racing driver who was born just 11 miles away from Gas City I-69 Speedway in Fairmount, Ind.
Adult general admission tickets are $30. Kids 12 and under are free. Pit passes are $30 for members and $35 for non-members. Pit gates open at 3pm ET with the grandstands opening at 5pm, drivers meeting at 5:45pm and hot laps at 6:30pm with qualifying and racing immediately following.
Thursday’s event from Gas City can be watched LIVE on FloRacing at https://flosports.link/3OivVbj.
USAC AMSOIL SPRINT CAR NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS: 1-Justin Grant-1965, 2-Brady Bacon-1902, 3-C.J. Leary-1864, 4-Robert Ballou-1837, 5-Emerson Axsom-1761, 6-Logan Seavey-1652, 7-Chase Stockon-1479, 8-Matt Westfall-1422, 9-Jadon Rogers-1375, 10-Jake Swanson-1246.