Justin Grant after his Chili Bowl preliminary win on Friday night. (Photo Frank Smith)
TULSA, Okla. –Justin Grant won his fifth preliminary feature Friday night at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl National Championships in the past six years, but his night was nearly turned upside down due to an electrical problem.
While waiting for his qualifying run to be pushed onto the track, Grant did something he always does, flip the ignition switch to make sure his gauges come on. This time, however, nothing happened.
“Usually I just do it when I get started, but I didn’t do it this time. We have digital gauges and I always flip the switch just to make sure we have power,” Grant explained. “I’m sitting there and I’m like, ‘Boys, we don’t have a light. Something is wrong.’
“So they ran and got another battery. We’re looking, they’ve got a voltmeter and they’re trying to chase it,” Grant continued. “Turns out he had pulled a wire from the ignition switch grommet so luckily we were able to find him. They had a box of electrical parts ready and we were able to put a carnation on it and get out.
How close was Grant to not being on track for qualification?
“Lacey (Doyle, crew member) was buttoning the armguard on it as we rolled down the ramp to exit,” Grant said. “It was pretty close.”
The fun wasn’t over for Grant once he set out for qualifying. Grant managed to take the 10-lap race lead halfway through, only for the RMS Racing driver to slow down a lap earlier and give the victory to defending POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League champion Bryant Wiedeman.
Grant later admitted that he just screwed up and thought he finished the race. He still finished second.
“In qualifying, maybe I miscounted the laps,” Grant said with a sheepish smile on his face. “I just missed the flag reading. I think the two go (signal) confused me. I thought it was the white one. At the drivers’ meeting they were pretty adamant about not not burn any extra laps. They’ve been pretty quick with the penalty button this year.
“I thought the ladies were out and I was like, ‘Okay, let’s not get in trouble here. “”
• When Daison Pursley suffered a spinal cord injury during a USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series race at Arizona Speedway in November, many wondered if he would ever walk again.
At the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Friday night, Pursley received a standing ovation as he entered the stands alongside his parents Klint and Shawna Pursley and Keith Kunz Motorsports owner Keith Kunz.
Pursley underwent several surgeries in the days and weeks following his crash at Arizona Speedway and is currently undergoing therapy in Atlanta to help complete his recovery.
No timetable has been set for a potential return to a racing car for 17-year-old Pursley, but it’s safe to say, based on the reaction on Friday night, that when it does happen it will be fine welcomed.
• NASCAR and NTT IndyCar Series contender Santino Ferrucci went on a wild ride during hot laps that resulted in a trip to the hospital.
The 23-year-old from Woodbury, Connecticut made contact with another car and flipped wildly on the third corner. His car rolled over several times, bounced off the guardrail and came to rest on all four wheels.
Ferrucci was taken to a local hospital shortly after, where he was diagnosed with a concussion. He will miss the rest of the Chili Bowl weekend.
• The Chili Bowl seems like a great place to buy all the parts needed to put together a dwarf.
A stroll through the pits early Friday afternoon saw a slew of parts for sale, including engines, chassis components and, in a few cases, complete race cars.
In fact, if enough attention was paid, a few items could have been picked up for free from the various bins around the pit area.
• A total of 381 drivers showed up to compete in the five preliminary evenings this week, a record for the event. The pre-race entry list showed 394 entries, so 13 drivers and teams chose not to compete after pre-registering.
• World Wide Technology Raceway Flip Count stands at 46 with one race day remaining in the 36th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl National Championships.