Justin Grant Embracing the Intensity of his Tulsa Opportunity

The 2020 USAC champion has steadily marched towards Tulsa greatness

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While nothing is guaranteed on Championship Saturday at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, everything is pointed in the right direction for Justin Grant.

The defending race runner-up enjoyed a mega run to end his 2021 season, winning the Hangtown 100 and Merced Madness Night One in Midgets and several podiums across every USAC division, and then won the Invitational Race of Champions of Monday night.

It was statement after statement for the RMS Racing ace, and then came Friday night’s final preliminary.

Grant, the 2020 USAC National Champion, took the lead from Sam Johnson on Lap 16 of the 30-lap feature and withstood a charge from Ricky Stenhouse to lock into the feature and the top seed in the pole shuffle. It was also his fifth Friday night win in the past six years.

It could be the culmination of a half-decade march towards the Golden Driller.

Since 2017, Grant has finished inside of the top-10 of every feature he has made, with finishes of third, seventh, third and second over his last four appearances. Defending winner Kyle Larson said Grant should have realistically won the race last year if not for the Cup Series champion using the video board to block.

Despite all the talk of Larson versus Bell over the past five years, Grant has very much been a major supporting player in deciding the outcome.

That’s to say Grant should be considered every bit the upper tier favorite the previous two winners over the past five years … and he feels the intensity.

"It's an intense building, right," Grant said. "It's high pressure, the big stage, but I love it. It gets me focused and gets me in the zone and I love being put in this situation, to be put in this position after winning the VIROC and our prelim, everything is going well this week."

Understatement.

The path to his first Golden Driller is pretty straightforward in that he will lead the final pole shuffle to the green flag alongside Bell. Larson will have to march his way to the front from the second row of the first shuffle.

Grant started on the front row back in 2017 and isn’t overthinking any possible advantages either.

"I don't think it's a game changer," Grant said. "There are pros and cons but I do ultimately think it's easier to keep these guys behind you than trying to find a way around."

B-Features: Top 4 advanced to the A-Feature.

B Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 97W-Zeb Wise[2]; 2. 32W-Casey Shuman[1]; 3. 11A-Andrew Felker[3]; 4. 19F-Frank Flud[5]; 5. 4T-Trey Gropp[4]; 6. 39-Logan Seavey[14]; 7. 08M-Jace McIntosh[7]; 8. 31M-David Budres[10]; 9. 75J-Jett Hays[9]; 10. 51R-Ricky Thornton Jr[13]; 11. 45H-Logan Calderwood[15]; 12. 23S-Kyle Simon[6]; 13. 31B-Kyle Beilman[11]; 14. 68C-Jimmy Gardner[12]; 15. 20-Tadd Holliman[16]; 16. 51Z-Zach Boden[8]

B Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 21-Daryn Pittman[3]; 2. 26E-Cory Eliason[1]; 3. 44X-Wesley Smith[7]; 4. 7R-AJ Hopkins[2]; 5. 14U-Austin Torgerson[5]; 6. 9C-Colten Cottle[9]; 7. 14J-Jody Rosenboom[6]; 8. 12M-Jeff Champagne[13]; 9. 14-Dylan Postier[8]; 10. 0Z-Landon Crawley[11]; 11. 87F-Johnny Kent[4]; 12. 2B-Brett Becker[10]; 13. (DNF) 11G-Mike Goodman[12]; 14. (DNF) 3G-Kyle Cummins[14]; 15. (DNF) 1P-Terry Nichols[15]; 16. (DNS) 95-Chris Andrews

A-Feature: Top 2 advanced to Saturday’s A-Feature.

A Feature (30 Laps): 1. 2J-Justin Grant[4]; 2. 47S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[1]; 3. 97W-Zeb Wise[17]; 4. 01K-Bryant Wiedeman[9]; 5. 72J-Sam Johnson[2]; 6. 84-Michael Faccinto[5]; 7. 11B-Clinton Boyles[11]; 8. 19S-Kasey Kahne[14]; 9. 40M-Chase McDermand[3]; 10. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[15]; 11. 68-Ronnie Gardner[6]; 12. 11A-Andrew Felker[21]; 13. 75B-Ryan Newman[13]; 14. 77X-Wayne Johnson[10]; 15. 28-Ace McCarthy[8]; 16. 21-Daryn Pittman[18]; 17. 26E-Cory Eliason[20]; 18. 19F-Frank Flud[23]; 19. 97K-Brenham Crouch[12]; 20. 11X-Donovan Peterson[16]; 21. 1UK-Tom Harris[7]; 22. 32W-Casey Shuman[19]; 23. (DNF) 44X-Wesley Smith[22]; 24. (DNF) 7R-AJ Hopkins[24]