Grant Thompson set high expectations for himself ahead of his CARS Tour debut at Dominion Raceway.
After watching his car owner Justin Johnson and teammate Kaden Honeycutt take the last two CARS Tour races, the 15 year-old rookie was optimistic that he could at least contest for a Top 5 on Saturday.
The night would be dominated by inconsistency for Thompson, who ultimately had to settle for a disappointing 12th place finish.
“It was rough night,” Thompson said. ” I thought our long run speed was going to be good. Justin Johnson put me in a heck of a race car tonight but the CARS Tour isn’t easy. We’ll learn from our mistakes and move on.”
Thompson started his first trip to Dominion on an exceptional note by qualifying in the fourth position with a time of 15.087, which put in front of both his teammates and former champions in Jared Fryar and Bobby McCarty.
Knowing that track position was going to be important, Thompson wanted to fall in line and conserve his tires so that he could have a competitive car for the second half of the Radley Chevrolet 125.
A bad start from Thompson caused the entire top lane to check up behind Thompson. Deac McCaskill, who was only one point out of the championship lead, severely damaged the front of his car after hitting McCarty’s rear end while Sam Butler ended up hitting McCaskill, ruining both of their nights before a lap had been completed.
Thompson said that the last thing he wanted was to disrupt the ongoing battle for the CARS Tour championship and took full responsibility for the poor start that knocked McCaskill out of contention.
“I’m not sure if I didn’t mash the clutch or hold it in gear all the way but that was my fault,” Thompson said. “I didn’t mean to stack the whole field up there. That wasn’t a good deal.”
The struggles for Thompson continued on the ensuing restart with another bad launch. He admitted to doing what he could to maintain track position but could not keep his car inside the Top 10.
Thompson is use to having high expectations placed upon him having driven for former Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill but said that Saturday was not indicative of who he is trying to be as a driver.
Despite this, Thompson fully expected evenings like Saturday to be a possibility in Late Model Stocks and is determined to keep working with Justin Johnson Racing so that he will be better prepared for his next appearance.
“I’ll be happy with Top 10 finishes,” Thompson said. “I want to keep the cars clean as well and we definitely need to work on that. Solid finishes are important but I also just want to know everyone [at Justin Johnson Racing] a little better as well.”
Thompson intends to not only meet expectations but exceed them as he continues to gain experience over his remaining CARS Tour starts in 2021.