Justin Johnson has once again expanded his burgeoning Late Model Stock Car program with the addition of 14-year-old Grant Thompson for select CARS Tour races.
Thompson was motivated to join Johnson’s team after his close friend Kaden Honeycutt became a part of the program during the offseason and hopes to put together plenty of solid performances over his part-time schedule.
“It’s really a blessing that I have the opportunity to run with [Justin] this year,” Thompson said. “I know the CARS Tour is a very competitive series and coming into it, I’m a little bit nervous. I have a little bit of Late Model experience under my belt, so I feel that if we work together as a team we’ll be fine.”
Thompson began his career at the age of six by racing go-karts in states like Florida and Alabama. He transitioned over to Bandolero competition in 2016 and immediately found success with an INEX Alabama Bandolero State Championship.
In 2017, Thompson defended his state title while placing second in the INEX International Bandolero Bandit Championship, which convinced him to move up into the Southern Pro Am Truck Series the following year.
After earning Rookie of the Year honors in the series, Thompson continued his development in Pro Trucks by winning championships at Mobile International Speedway, Crisp Motorsports Park and Five Flags Speedway, where he also took home a Snowball Derby Pro Truck checkered flag in 2020.
Thompson’s consistency in Pro Trucks enabled him to form a partnership with two-time Snowball Derby winner Augie Grill for a handful of races that included two starts in the Show Me The Money Pro Late Model Series at Montgomery Motor Speedway, both of which resulted in Top 10s.
Thompson credits Grill for helping him get acclimated quickly to the Pro Late Model and believes that the knowledge obtained from last season will be useful ahead of his CARS Tour debut.
“Things have been a little crazier since we went from a truck to a Pro Late Model,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot more horsepower and grip on the tires with the Pro Late Model and I was in shock when I took my first few laps in one. It was a little bit of a transition but a lot of fun to learn more about these cars.”
With Johnson recently coming off his first career CARS LMSC Tour victory at Dillon Motor Speedway, Thompson knows that expectations will be high for him to finish strong while simultaneously taking care of his equipment.
Thompson will only have five races to showcase his talents against the rookies and veterans of the CARS LMSC Tour but his goal is to learn from Johnson and gain experience before what he hopes is a full-time campaign in 2022.
“We’re mainly focusing on seat time this year and getting a feel for the car,” Thompson said. “We also want to gain the trust and respect of our competitors. If we can gain a couple of Top 10 finishes, I would be really happy with that. We want to be fast but we’re not trying to win races this early.”
No date has been set for Thompson’s debut but he wants to make a strong first impression in Johnson’s cars by racing at difficult tracks like Hickory Motor Speedway and Ace Speedway.