Grant Leads Toyota 1-2-3 In Ocala; Avedisian Falls Just Short of Making History

Justin Grant took the lead from Jade Avedisian with 12 laps remaining and led Buddy Kofoid and Avedisian in a Toyota one-two-three finish on night two of the NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ Winter Dirt Games XIII at Bubba Raceway Park, Saturday night.

The win is the second in a row for Grant and the fourth in the last six USAC national midget feature events for the RMS Toyota driver. He also won both his preliminary feature night and the Race of Champions at the Chili Bowl Nationals in January.

For much of Saturday’s feature it appeared that the 15-year-old Avedisian was on the way to making history as the first woman to win a national midget feature event. Starting from the pole, the CB Industries driver went straight to the lead with Grant running second. 

The top two would pull away from the field with Avedisian stretching out a 1.748-second advantage over third-place Emerson Axsom in the first 10 laps. By lap 14, the Clovis, Calif., native had opened up a 1.118-second lead over Grant. The leaders then began to hit lapped traffic just past the midway point and it gave Grant just the opportunity he needed.

He began to close on Avedisian on lap 16 and by lap 18, he was just a tenth of a second behind.  Grant would then go to the lead when Avedisian got caught up in traffic, diving below her heading into turn one on lap 19. A fast-closing Kofoid also was able to capitalize, moving past Avedisian for second.

Kofoid was able to narrow Grant’s lead but wasn’t able to overtake him on a track that proved difficult to pass on after an early rain delay. Grant would take home the $5000 first prize with Kofoid finishing second and Avedisian earning her first USAC podium finish in addition to leading 18 of the 30 laps.

Overall, Toyota-powered drivers captured eight of the top-10 finishing positions as Mitchell Moles placed fifth, followed by Bryant Wiedeman in seventh, Taylor Reimer in eighth, Kevin Thomas Jr. in ninth and Jace Park was tenth.  

USAC returns to the track March 11-12 for the Shamrock Classic indoor special event at the Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill.  The championship resumes with a double-header at Kokomo (Ind.) Speedway, April 8-9.


Justin Grant, RMS Racing: “We’ve got a really good package and a great team all around. I was worried. Jade is a racer. She’s got speed and a lot of race craft. She worked me over on that initial start. She’s going to win one of these before too long. She’ll be the first girl to win a USAC national race. She was really good. When we got into lapped traffic, it kind of played into my hands. I’ve lost a lot of races the same way Jade lost this one tonight. I’ve really got to thank NOS Energy Drink, Toyota and Envirofab.”

Buddy Kofoid, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “I feel like we had really good car speed. Justin and RMS did a really good job all weekend. I felt like I had the fastest car at the end. It was tough to pass, but fifth to second isn’t too bad. I can’t thank Keith Kunz Motorsports enough for giving me the opportunity and of course I wouldn’t be here without Mobil 1 and Toyota.”

Jade Avedisian, CB Industries: “I wish I could have gotten through traffic better. We’ll take this third-place finish and, hopefully, there’s better to come this season. Just keep trying to work traffic better. I just paused and slowed down my speed.”