Justin Grant Earns Driven2SaveLives BC39 Victory

Grant kisses bricks at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway - Jack Reitz photo
Justin Grant celebrates victory in the Driven2SaveLives BC39 race – Roy Hague photo

71 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship racers converged on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s quarter-mile The Dirt Track this past weekend, all attempting to win of the fifth annual Driven2SaveLives BC39 race.

The field consisted of 19 past USAC feature winners, representing 20 states of this country. The four-night dirt-track extravaganza dedicated to the memory of USAC and INDYCAR standout Bryan Clauson paid $20,039 to win, but the prestige of securing this event’s victory extended to every one of the 71 vying for Saturday night’s payday.

Three states had been represented in the BC39 winner’s four editions held to date: Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon won the inaugural race in 2018, while Indiana’s Zeb Wise took the 2019 edition. There was no 2020 race, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Californians Kyle Larson and Buddy Kofoid, respectively, took the two most recent races at this track inside a track. Would there be a fourth state joining them?

USAC scheduled three full nights of racing for this year’s trophy and the ability to “kiss the bricks” at The Dirt Track’s start/finish line. Only one team was successful all three nights at that was RMS Racing, the Western Springs, IL-based squad with a two-car effort for Thomas Meseraull and Justin Grant. Winless throughout nine months of racing in the USAC National Midget ranks, they managed to sweep both preliminary nights of racing and the 25-car, 39-lap feature on Saturday night.

71 drivers competed in this fifth BC39 race Josh James Artwork photo

Meseraull won the first night’s prelims while Grant took the win in Friday night’s action. The two drivers ended up fighting for the big check and the prestigious win throughout the feature race, both leading numerous times during the latter half of the race. Meseraull started the BC39 on the front row while Grant started fourth in the 39-lap feature race, which was halted only once for caution, albeit for a long period as walls needed to be repaired when Daniel Whitley soared into the first turn’s catch fence.

The fencing needed extensive repairs, but that was the sole caution period, unusual for USAC midget contests. After the fifth-lap stoppage, there were no further delays as drivers tested their skills in the cushion, finding where they could pass and where they couldn’t. Both Meseraull and Grant had several turns at the front midway through the event, both slinking rearward when they discovered they couldn’t sustain a lead. Racing with this duo was Emerson Axsom, celebrating his 19th birthday on Saturday night and leading the first two laps. Meseraull, Grant and Axsom were the sole leaders of this BC39 contest.

One very important thing to remember about USAC’s national midget series – no lead is ever safe. Axsom, Meseraull and Grant fought tooth-and-nail to gain position with, at one point Maseraull taking the lead from Axsom with a patented “slide or die” moment on the 15th lap. As Axsom attempted to answer his foe’s actions, they both slid up the track, opening the door for Grant to drive underneath both and take the point.

Nearing the halfway point, Grant took control of the proceedings. “I was kind of riding around early,” he said. “We weren’t the best car and we weren’t the fastest, but I knew that as soon as it got slick, curbed up and technical, I could go to work.”

Track conditions pushed the racing line closer to the track’s fence line, forcing Grant, Meseraull and Axsom to find their sweet spots somewhere between disaster and heroism, battling to earn victory. As the race drew to a close, points leader Logan Seavey joined this grouping and with eight to go, Meseraull went into the outside wall between the third and fourth turn – yet was able to continue. The cost was victory, as he handed the lead to his teammate, Grant, falling back to fifth.

Grant kisses bricks at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Jack Reitz photo

There were no challengers in the final laps as Grant earned his first NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series win of the 2023 campaign. He led the final eight laps to score a 2.094-second victory over Emerson Axsom, Logan Seavey, Tanner Thorson and Thomas Meseraull. “I was hustling as hard as I could there and I know T-Mez was hustling hard, too,” Grant said post-race. “It was really, really tricky down there – the third and fourth turns – and it felt like we got to pushing each other harder and harder and harder. That’s how you force a mistake out of somebody!”

With five different winners in five compelling Driven2SaveLives BC39 races at The Dirt Track inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway, this four-day event has turned out to be a winner for the racers, for the fans and to the memory of Bryan Clauson. The next USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship race takes place at Bakersfield Speedway in California, a 1/3-mile dirt track. The November Classic is scheduled for November 14th.

By Anne Proffit

FEATURE: (39 laps, starting positions in parentheses) 1. Justin Grant (#2 RMS) (4), 2. Emerson Axsom (#68 Kunz/Curb-Agajanian) (1), 3. Logan Seavey (12), 4. Tanner Thorson (8), 5. Thomas Meseraull (#7x RMS) (2), 6. Karter Sarff (11), 7. Chase McDermand (#40 Mounce-Stout) (5), 8. Taylor Reimer (#25K Kunz/Curb-Agajanian) (3), 9. Jacob Denney (7), 10. Ryan Timms (9), 11. Ethan Mitchell (10), 12. Jerry Coons Jr. (15), 13. Zach Daum (14), 14. Daison Pursley (13), 15. Hayden Reinbold (17), 16. Cannon McIntosh (#86 CBI) (6), 17. Jade Avedisian (22), 18. Kevin Thomas Jr. (24-P), 19. Mitchel Moles (16), 20. Gavin Miller (20), 21. Jake Andreotti (21), 22. Bryant Wiedeman (23-U), 23. Clinton Boyles (25-P), 24. Kaylee Bryson (19), 25. Daniel Whitley (18). NT

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-2 Emerson Axsom, Laps 3-8 Thomas Meseraull, Laps 9-14 Emerson Axsom, Lap 15 Thomas Meseraull, Laps 16-25 Justin Grant, Laps 26-31 Thomas Meseraull, Laps 32-39 Justin Grant.

About Anne Proffit 1246 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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