Justin Grant celebrates after winning the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions. (Brendon Bauman Photo)
Justin Grant celebrates after winning the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions. (Brendon Bauman Photo)

Grant Denies Larson In Race Of Champions

TULSA, Okla. – Justin Grant held off a determined Kyle Larson to claim victory in Monday’s Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions inside the Tulsa Expo Center.

The starting lineup was set by qualifying, with groups of three drivers hitting the track together for five laps. Tanner Thorson set the fastest time at 11.328 seconds, which fell short of the Tulsa Expo Raceway track record set by Kasey Kahne (11.168 seconds) in 2001.

The top-eight qualifiers were then inverted, with Logan Seavey and Grant sharing the front row for the 25-lap feature.

Grant took the lead at the start of the event and drove away from Seavey, but the man on the move was Kyle Larson. Larson qualified second, but started seventh after the invert and quickly began slicing his way to the front.

The red flag waved on the 10th circuit when contact with five-time Chili Bowl winner Sammy Swindell sent reigning USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series champion Buddy Kofoid flipping. Kofoid was unhurt in the crash, but he was unable to continue.

During the restart Larson took second from Seavey and began hounding Grant for the race lead. Larson attempted multiple slide jobs, but was unable to muscle his way past the driver of the No. 2J NOS Energy Drink midget.

At the checkered flag Grant beat Larson by .280 seconds to earn his first victory in the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions.

Christopher Bell roared from 11th to finish third, with fast qualifier Thorson finishing fourth after starting eighth. Reigning Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series champion Blake Hahn completed the top-five.

The finish:

1. 2J-Justin Grant[2]; 2. 01-Kyle Larson[7]; 3. 71W-Christopher Bell[11]; 4. 19T-Tanner Thorson[8]; 5. 52-Blake Hahn[4]; 6. 97-Rico Abreu[9]; 7. 7C-Tyler Courtney[6]; 8. 1S-Spencer Bayston[15]; 9. 9E-Chase Elliott[10]; 10. 01K-Bryant Wiedeman[17]; 11. 1R-Brad Sweet[14]; 12. 9T-Tim McCreadie[18]; 13. 21-Daryn Pittman[12]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[13]; 15. 1-Sammy Swindell[16]; 16. (DNF) 39-Logan Seavey[1]; 17. (DNF) 08-Cannon McIntosh[5]; 18. (DNF) 67-Michael Kofoid[3]

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