TULSA, Okla. – Just as his Clauson-Marshall Racing teammate Tyler Courtney did Tuesday night at the Tulsa Expo Center, California’s Justin Grant led from start to finish and collected his first-career Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals preliminary night win on Friday during Vacuworx Qualifying Night.
Grant started from the pole after huge performances earlier in the evening, going from eighth to third in his heat race and winning his qualifier from fifth.
From there, he never looked back, leading all the way and running all 25 laps around the inside hub rail en route to arguably the biggest win of his career.
“Everybody’s pretty excited up here,” Grant smiled. “My car was amazing on the bottom, though. I don’t think I’ve ever run that many laps consecutive on the bottom in my career. Danica (Patrick) and I were having an argument early in the night … she said, ‘If you win on the bottom, it’s pretty cool.’ I told her it’s still not cool to win on the bottom, but I guess this is pretty cool right here.”
The win continued a whirlwind week for Grant, whose wife gave birth to twins just before Grant came down to Tulsa for the Chili Bowl.
Now, Grant looks ahead to Saturday night, when he will make his second-career championship A-Main start, hoping to improve on a 23rd-place finish from his debut last January.
“It’s just amazing to win, especially for this family tonight,” Grant said. “I really feel like I had an amazing week. I had twins. I was just kind of along for the ride on that. My wife did all of that. I got to piggyback the glory on that. But she told me that I had to do this. I had to come down here and run for these guys. And tonight, I was just along for the ride again.”
“I feel like I got all the glory this week and there’s so many other people really doing all the hard work.”
The only caution of the night flew with one lap complete, when fifth-starting J.J. Yeley blew the motor in his No. 1ST and dropped fluid on the racetrack that caused Ace McCarthy and Holly Shelton to spin in the aftermath.
Under the yellow, Tanner Thorson dropped into the work area with a flat left-rear tire, but following the resumption at the restart, the final 24 laps went uninterrupted and saw former World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion put on a spectacular show.
Pittman, who rolled off eighth on the grid, was running fifth at the halfway point but found some room to race on the outside groove and stormed towards the front.
The Owasso, Oklahoma veteran passed Michael Faccinto for fourth on lap 14, sliding high in turn one and forcing Faccinto to back off the throttle and settle in behind.
Pittman wasn’t done, however, dispatching NASCAR star Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for third on lap 16 and giving Ronnie Gardner the same treatment two laps later as time ran down on the main event.
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