TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — Sportsmanship isn’t something that is always readily acknowledged among racers, especially in a hard-nosed division such as non-winged 410 sprint car racing.
However, following Wednesday night’s 51st Tony Hulman Classic for the USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series, the quality was on full display for drivers and fans alike.
Veterans Justin Grant and Chris Windom came together on-track during the closing laps of the feature at the Terre Haute Action Track, with Windom attempting a slide job on Grant for the lead with four laps remaining.
Windom’s right-rear tire hit Grant’s left front as Windom slid up the track, resulting in contact that sent Grant’s car airborne momentarily before it came back to earth and — remarkably — continued on.
Windom won the race, while the handling quickly faded on Grant’s car and he finished fifth.
On the surface, one might think that a heated discussion — or worse, a pit-area tussle — may have ensued.
Not with Grant and Windom, however. In a showcase of mutual respect, the two quickly discussed their sides of the story, came to an understanding and went on about their business.
If that weren’t enough, the pair also discussed the incident on social media Thursday for fans to have a better understanding of their mindsets going forward.
“I’ve been on the other side of that [kind of deal] before and I’d leaned on Chris a few laps earlier,” Grant wrote, responding to a video replay of the incident. “I can’t be mad. [The contact] knocked the [Jacob’s] ladder off and I was hanging on after that. I wish we could’ve got back after him on that last restart, but he won and I ran fifth. That’s racing sometimes.”
“Justin and I have raced each other hard for a lot of years. I thought I could clear him, but I backed it up the track too slow,” Windom explained. “We have already talked and I know that, when the time comes, he will race me back hard as well. Respect to him and I wish the NOS Energy Drink cars would’ve run 1-2.”
Wednesday night’s battle between Windom, a USAC Triple Crown champion, and Grant, the reigning USAC Silver Crown Series titlist, is likely one fans will see plenty more of this season.
The pair both rank inside the top five in USAC national sprint car points (Grant is second, Windom sits fifth) and both have been multi-time feature winners annually in recent years.
Grant knows the competition isn’t going anywhere. In fact, he welcomes and relishes it.
“Banging wheels at full song and cheating death is what I signed up for,” the Ione, Calif., native tipped. “The other side of that move [that Windom pulled] is probably where you’ll find me next.”
Then, epitomizing what the discipline he loves is all about, Grant offered one final thought.
“Non-wing sprint cars aren’t for the faint of heart.”