Justin Grant charged through the field from the 13th starting position to win the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ 81st annual Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway, Saturday night. It marks the 13th time that a Toyota-powered driver has won the prestigious event.
The win is the sixth of the season for Grant and his 11th since joining the Toyota-powered RMS Racing team prior to the 2021 season.
Series champion Buddy Kofoid would lead the first 44 laps of the event before giving way to fellow Toyota driver Cannon McIntosh as those two would continue to run one-two until lap 66 when Carson Macedo would slip by Kofoid for second with Tanner Thorson moving into third. Kofoid was battling back for third, only to see his night end when Thorson got up and over the cushion, turning sideways on the back straight and collecting Kofoid, ending his night.
After the restart, McIntosh would continue to set the pace until he, too, saw his hopes for victory slip away after getting up on the cushion coming back to the flag stand on lap 71. He was able to save the car, but came to stop, bringing out the caution flag and handing the lead to Macedo, with Grant having climbed up to second.
The woes at the front field would continue, though, as Macedo biked it off the cushion coming off of turn one on lap 78, bringing out the caution with Macedo sent to the back of the field, while Grant assumed the top spot.
Grant would pace lap 78, but Thorson was able to slide him for the lead on lap 79 as the two waged a fierce battle as the race entered the final 20 laps. Grant was able to move to the top of the track coming out of turn four and narrowly pass Thorson for the point position on lap 84 just before another caution waved.
Grant was able to hold off another run by Thorson after the restart and then began to pull away from the field on the way to a 1.367-second victory over Kyle Larson, with Bryant Wiedeman finishing third.
Three more Toyota-powered cars finished in the top 10 with Kevin Thomas Jr. placing fifth, while Emerson Axsom was eighth and Macedo recovered to finish ninth.
The Toyota Midget car program will kick off its 2023 campaign with the 37th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the SageNet Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, January 9-14.
Justin Grant, RMS Racing NOS Energy Drink Toyota: “My dad used to take me to Turkey Night every year and this is one of the races I fell in love with watching USAC cars. I never thought I’d be in the show and certainly never thought I’d win one. I can’t thank everyone involved with this NOS Energy Drink car enough. I love racing with Tanner Thorson. We took the gloves off and went at it. We were pulling every trick in the book out there. It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix.”