by Jacob Hord, @HordRaceWatcher
USAC Sprints: Thirty-five of the wingless warriors took to the big half-mile that is Eldora Speedway for the first night of the #LetsRaceTwo weekend. Kyle Cummins and CJ Leary led the field to the green flag of the 30 lap feature. Cummins took the early lead over third starting Matt Westfall as fifth starting Justin Grant made moves and found himself in second place on lap two. Grant then set his sights on Cummins.
Cummins had .483 seconds back to Grant, but it didn’t take long for Grant to reel him in. There was a slider-fest that started around lap eight or nine that eventually saw Grant slide Cummins in turns three and four, and Cummins hold. The top two traded sliders most every set of corners for the next couple of laps, but on lap 10, Grant made the slider stick and rocketed out to a .778 second lead. It’s safe to say that Grant’s car was good, because by lap 13, that lead was up to 2.412 seconds.
While Cummins and Grant swapped the lead, Kevin Thomas Jr., Brady Bacon and CJ Leary were all battling for the final podium spot. As Grant extended his lead to over three seconds, Bacon made his move on KTJ and Leary for third on lap 19. There was no stopping Justin Grant, though. With ten circuits remaining, Grant’s lead was was almost five and a half seconds over Cummins as he worked his way through lapped traffic on the top. Grant’s lead peaked at 6.329 seconds with six laps remaining, but the lone caution would come out with five laps left.
While the caution got Grant out of lapped traffic, it put Cummins back on his rear bumper. Grant nailed his restart, and Cummins bobbled and ended up bumping the wall on the back stretch which is exactly what Grant needed. Grant pulled out to a 1.044 second lead with three laps left as Cummins fell into Bacon’s grip. Grant did make it interesting, as he smacked the backstretch wall on the final lap, but he was able to recover and win by 2.347 seconds over Brady Bacon, Kyle Cummins, Emerson Axson, and Kevin Thomas Jr.
World of Outlaws: After finishing first and second in the Dash, Brad Sweet and Rico Abreu paced the field as the green flag flew. But it was third starting Logan Schuchart who took the lead coming out of turn one. Schuchart turned on the afterburners early on, railing the top of the track much like Justin Grant did in the USAC feature a few minutes prior.
The first battle came as Donny Schatz started reeling Rico Abreu in for second place after Schatz worked his way into third. Schatz and Abreu battled hard for that second spot. Schatz was making the bottom work as Abreu was working the middle and top. On lap twelve, Schatz made his move into second on the back stretch, but Abreu countered in turns three and four and held the second spot. Even while they were battling, they were catching leader Schuchart slowly but surely. At the halfway point, Abreu was solidly back in second as Schatz would soon have his hands full with Brad Sweet.
While Schatz and Sweet battled for the third spot, Abreu once again started to inch closer to Schuchart. With ten laps left, Abreu kept getting closer and closer as Schuchart worked through lapped traffic. Meanwhile, Schatz and Sweet were still deciding who would get the final podium spot. Schatz was working the absolute bottom, and it worked as he claimed the third spot with eight laps left.
You could tell Abreu wanted to slide Schuchart for the win as the laps were ticking down, but he just wasn’t close enough. Abreu stayed on course, though, and was able to get close enough as Schuchart got slowed by lapped traffic with two laps left. Coming to the white flag, Abreu threw a slider in turns three and four, and it stuck… momentarily. Schuchart countered in turns one and two on the white flag lap to get back ahead of Abreu down the backstretch. Schuchart then wisely shut the door as they got to turns three and four and that is all Schuchart needed to claim the first night of #LetsRaceTwo over Rico Abreu and Donny Schatz.