CORDELE, Ga. – Despite an early-race incident, Grant Thompson rallied through the field for a top-10 finish for Emma Britt Racing in Saturday’s JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour pro late model event at Crisp Motorsports Park.
In a qualifying session where the top eight for the redraw were separated by less than a tenth of a second, the 17-year-old native of Mobile, Ala., timed in seventh-fastest and then redrew the seventh starting position for the 100-lap pro late model main event.
Thompson settled into a comfortable position early inside the top 10, but nearly saw his race come to an early end. A slip off the backstretch of the three-eighths-mile oval on a lap-30 restart sent Thompson free-falling toward the rear of the field and scrambling to rebound.
Though he saved the racecar and escaped any damage, Thompson found himself outside the top 20 at that point and had to spend the rest of the race fighting back toward the front.
To his credit, Thompson stayed patient over the middle stages of the race and found himself back inside the top 10 just past the halfway point, making the pass for 10th on lap 57.
He worked his way as high as eighth in the latter stages of the event before ending up 10th in the end.
While Thompson knew the car had more potential than the finish showed, he was also grateful to have made it through all 100 laps after things almost fell apart early on.
“It’s not what we came here for, but we’ll take a top-10 and a clean racecar,” Thompson said. “I think the biggest thing is that I know I made a few mistakes that I can learn from to be better next time. The car is in one piece, and that’s always an important goal.
“A solid top-10 finish gives us something to build on and we’ll move onto the next race with our heads up.”
Thompson tipped that, as he made his way back through the field, his biggest focus was staying calm under pressure and taking care of his equipment knowing that he had a car capable of a strong finish.
“I had to be a bit cautious at times, but also make sure I wasn’t letting my emotions get the best of me,” Thompson explained. “My goal was to make every pass clean as we tried to salvage the day, and I felt like we did that for the most part. We were fighting loose for a lot of the race, but things ended up solid.”
Stephen Nasse won Saturday’s Protect Your Melon 100, ahead of NASCAR Cup Series star Ross Chastain, George Phillips, Seth Christensen, and Mike Hopkins.
The 10th-place finish achieved by Thompson was his first top-10 in JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour competition.
Thompson’s next pro late model race with Curt Britt Racing will be the Baby Rattler 125 at South Alabama Speedway on March 16, held as part of the prestigious Rattler 250 weekend at the four-tenths-mile short track.
Thompson’s racing endeavors are backed by partners Rogers Dabbs Chevrolet Performance, Brian Cagle Grading, Nature Coast Electrical, Dakota’s Journey, and Emma Britt Racing.
For more information on Thompson, visit www.grantthompsonracing.com.
About Grant Thompson Racing
Grant Thompson is a 17-year-old racing driver from Mobile, Ala., competing in high-profile pro late model events in the Southern United States.
While Thompson cut his teeth in racing in the popular Bandolero division as a youngster, his motorsports career began to attract a mainstream spotlight in 2018, when he began racing in the Southern Pro-Am Truck Series and earned rookie-of-the-year honors at the end of that season.
Thompson earned the 2019 Pro Truck championship at Mobile Int’l Speedway as a 13-year-old. He was also chosen as the winner of the Jr. Late Model Challenge Camp at Madera (Calif.) Speedway that year.
After track titles at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., and Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Ga., in 2020, Thompson moved into the Tundra Super Late Model Series the next year, earning rookie-of-the-year honors on the strength of a sixth-place finish in Tundra points.
Thompson returned to his Pro Truck roots for the 2022 and 2023 seasons, also racing in various pro late model events as his schedule permitted. He’ll focus on the pro late model division this year under the guidance of longtime team owner Curt Britt, racing predominantly in the Southeast region.
Off the racetrack, Thompson is completing his senior year of high school at Cottage Hill Christian Academy and will graduate in May.