Grant Returns to Form, Underdog Shines Friday at Chili Bowl

Friday night’s qualifying night at the Chili Bowl Nationals had the biggest share of storylines all week.  Two drivers ran the alphabet soup and posted top-five finishes, and an underdog nearly pulled off an upset after a last-second deal highlighted the final preliminary night in Tulsa, OK.


After coming up short one year ago, USAC Silver Crown champion Justin Grant took the Friday night preliminary A-Main win for the fourth time in five years.  By virtue of his win, all five RMS Racing drivers finished in the top-five in their respective prelim features this week, with he and Thomas Meseraull locking themselves into Saturday night’s main event.


“It’s just a testament to how good our race car is this year.  The RMS guys brought me an awesome Midget and it’s been a blast to drive,” Grant said on the FloRacing broadcast.  “It goes A to B so fast, it jumps off the corner and it allows me to make a mistake here and there and the car carries me.  That’s about as good as I’ve felt around the cushion as I’ve felt and that’s normally what it takes to win Saturday.”


Grant’s A-Main run was a dominant one – until it wasn’t.  The Ione, CA driver led all 30 laps from the front row, but lapped traffic suddenly made it a race in the final two laps after Kyle Cummins made up two and a half seconds in the final five laps.


“Them lapped cars got thick and I could see Kyle on the board coming.  Kyle’s tough, he’s a smart and savvy racer.  You don’t see him a lot at Chili Bowl but he’s a darn good racer.  I won when I had kids and barely made it down here.”


Cummins was back home in Princeton, IN until early Friday morning on baby watch as he and his wife are expecting their first child at any time.  The multi-time Midwest Sprint Car Series champion made it to Tulsa just in time for Friday night’s prelim after receiving the blessing from his wife, and he will be repaid with his first Chili Bowl A-Main start Saturday night.


“I’ve just got to say hey to my wife, she’s watching at home.  Hopefully Carson’s in her belly, staying in there a couple more days,” said Cummins.  “She made the decision for me, I didn’t really want to leave and she told me I think we’re going to be alright, you need to go ahead and go.  I got on a 4:30 flight this morning and got here a little bit before we started and went over the car.”


He has already made an extra $1,500 for their first child by setting fast time in hot laps to start off the evening.  His strong night continued from there, setting high points out of the field and starting on the pole for the feature and qualifying for the main event.


“I knew we were going to have a good piece.  Glen Styres gives me the best equipment there is.  I’ve ran maybe 13 Midget races now in my career, every night we go we get faster.  I didn’t really know what to do getting ready for the feature there.  I went one way and in the beginning the car wasn’t handling.  Once the track cleaned off there at the end it just all the sudden took off.”


With Cummins’s run at the end to nearly steal the win, Grant was left wondering where he came from.  He joked about his competitor and the situation he was facing at home, having been caught in a similar deal back in 2017.


“Poor girl, he left her at home and she hasn’t had her kid yet?” he chuckled.  “He should go home.”


Both NASCAR Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and last year’s Friday night prelim winner Tanner Thorson came from the C-Main to finish third and fourth, respectively.  Former World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Daryn Pittman rounded out the top-five.


All preliminary action from the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals has been completed, and a champion will be crowned Saturday night.  The first green flag will wave at 10:00 a.m. CT with O-Mains.  Live MAVTV coverage will begin at 8:30 p.m. ET with C-Mains, with the event available for free on MAVTV, MAVTV Plus/Lucas Oil Racing TV and the MAVTV Facebook page.


-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Jacob Seelman


Chili Bowl Nationals – Driven2SaveLives Qualifying Night Results:


Fatheadz Heat Races: Top 40 in passing points advance to Qualifiers.


Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 19S-Hunter Schuerenberg[2]; 2. 18-Travis Welpott[1]; 3. 37X-Bill Balog[5]; 4. 4CM-Cody Jessop[8]; 5. 101-Chuck McGillivray[3]; 6. 19R-Gage Rucker[4]; 7. (DNF) 08-Tanner Thorson[7]; 8. (DNF) 44D-Evan Turner[6]


Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 97K-Jesse Love[1]; 2. 21-Daryn Pittman[5]; 3. 7JR-JD Black[2]; 4. 88N-Tim Estenson[7]; 5. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[4]; 6. (DNF) 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[3]; 7. (DNF) 35T-Casey Schmitz[8]; 8. (DNF) 99-Anthony Macri[6]


Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 2J-Justin Grant[4]; 2. 56I-Luke Icke[6]; 3. 68-Ronnie Gardner[3]; 4. 61-Kenny Koelsch[2]; 5. 2G-JJ Yeley[5]; 6. 88W-Dustin Weland[1]; 7. (DNS) 715-Robert Bell; 8. (DNS) 11Y-Travis Young


Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 9J-Anthony Nicholson[1]; 2. 73B-Tyler Edwards[2]; 3. 72J-Sam Johnson[3]; 4. 11H-Harli White[4]; 5. 80-Josh Hawkins[7]; 6. 44W-Eric Wilkins[5]; 7. 15L-Luke Howard[8]; 8. 11W-Aaron Werner[6]


Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 57W-Kasey Kahne[1]; 2. 14-Jesse Colwell[3]; 3. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[5]; 4. 32W-Casey Shuman[8]; 5. 96-Cody Brewer[7]; 6. 14R-Jake Nail[2]; 7. 1K-Brayton Lynch[4]; 8. 36-Kevin Reed[6] Brewer docked two positions at the end of the race for advancing before the cone on the single-file restart.


Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 3G-Kyle Cummins[6]; 2. 15F-Kinzer Edwards[3]; 3. 44X-Wesley Smith[2]; 4. 81G-Chase Jones[1]; 5. 10J-Lane Goodman[4]; 6. 27S-Austin Wood[5]; 7. 0-Johnny Murdock[7]; 8. (DNS) 19U-Pierce Urbanosky


Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 2X-Brent Beauchamp[4]; 2. 28-Ace McCarthy[6]; 3. 71G-Damion Gardner[7]; 4. 87-Aaron Reutzel[8]; 5. 22L-Lucas Scherb[1]; 6. 72X-Chris Tarrant[5]; 7. 60-Earl McDoulett Jr[3]; 8. 20Y-Austin Yarbrough[2]


Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 1A-Justin Allgaier[4]; 2. 7G-Jimmy Glenn[3]; 3. 14B-Jonathan Halford[1]; 4. 27B-AJ Burns[6]; 5. (DNF) 1X-Anthony Esberg[2]; 6. (DNF) 7-Michelle Decker[5]; 7. (DNF) 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[7]; 8. (DNF) 0T-Alex Schriever[8]



C-Features: Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature.


C Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 72X-Chris Tarrant[2]; 2. 44W-Eric Wilkins[1]; 3. 19R-Gage Rucker[4]; 4. 35T-Casey Schmitz[3]; 5. 14R-Jake Nail[5]; 6. 60-Earl McDoulett Jr[8]; 7. 88W-Dustin Weland[7]; 8. 20Y-Austin Yarbrough[11]; 9. 0-Johnny Murdock[6]; 10. 44D-Evan Turner[9]; 11. 11W-Aaron Werner[10]; 12. (DNS) 19U-Pierce Urbanosky


C Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 7-Michelle Decker[2]; 2. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[4]; 3. 08-Tanner Thorson[5]; 4. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[6]; 5. 1K-Brayton Lynch[7]; 6. 15L-Luke Howard[3]; 7. 0T-Alex Schriever[8]; 8. 36-Kevin Reed[10]; 9. 715-Robert Bell[11]; 10. 99-Anthony Macri[9]; 11. 27S-Austin Wood[1]; 12. (DNF) 11Y-Travis Young[12]



Team Toyota Qualifiers: Top 16 in combined passing points advance to the A-Feature.


Qualifier 1 (10 Laps): 1. 68-Ronnie Gardner[7]; 2. 3G-Kyle Cummins[6]; 3. 4CM-Cody Jessop[3]; 4. 56I-Luke Icke[5]; 5. 10J-Lane Goodman[10]; 6. 19S-Hunter Schuerenberg[4]; 7. 14B-Jonathan Halford[8]; 8. 88N-Tim Estenson[1]; 9. 61-Kenny Koelsch[9]; 10. (DNF) 15F-Kinzer Edwards[2]


Qualifier 2 (10 Laps): 1. 97K-Jesse Love[4]; 2. 2J-Justin Grant[6]; 3. 73B-Tyler Edwards[1]; 4. 32W-Casey Shuman[3]; 5. 28-Ace McCarthy[5]; 6. 7G-Jimmy Glenn[2]; 7. (DNF) 80-Josh Hawkins[8]; 8. (DNF) 72J-Sam Johnson[7]; 9. (DNF) 101-Chuck McGillivray[10]; 10. (DNF) 81G-Chase Jones[9]


Qualifier 3 (10 Laps): 1. 37X-Bill Balog[2]; 2. 21-Daryn Pittman[5]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel[3]; 4. 2G-JJ Yeley[9]; 5. 2X-Brent Beauchamp[6]; 6. 9J-Anthony Nicholson[4]; 7. 96-Cody Brewer[8]; 8. 7JR-JD Black[7]; 9. 18-Travis Welpott[1]; 10. 1X-Anthony Esberg[10]


Qualifier 4 (10 Laps): 1. 71G-Damion Gardner[5]; 2. 14-Jesse Colwell[3]; 3. 57W-Kasey Kahne[4]; 4. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[2]; 5. 44X-Wesley Smith[7]; 6. 11H-Harli White[8]; 7. 27B-AJ Burns[1]; 8. 22L-Lucas Scherb[10]; 9. (DNF) 1A-Justin Allgaier[6]; 10. (DNF) 14X-Jody Rosenboom[9] B-Features: Top 4 advance to the A-Feature.


B Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 2G-JJ Yeley[1]; 2. 10J-Lane Goodman[2]; 3. 15F-Kinzer Edwards[10]; 4. 44X-Wesley Smith[3]; 5. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[12]; 6. 80-Josh Hawkins[6]; 7. 35T-Casey Schmitz[16]; 8. 11H-Harli White[5]; 9. 88N-Tim Estenson[8]; 10. 101-Chuck McGillivray[11]; 11. 44W-Eric Wilkins[14]; 12. 27B-AJ Burns[7]; 13. (DNF) 19R-Gage Rucker[15]; 14. (DNF) 7G-Jimmy Glenn[4]; 15. (DNF) 72X-Chris Tarrant[13]; 16. (DNF) 22L-Lucas Scherb[9]


B Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[15]; 2. 08-Tanner Thorson[13]; 3. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[1]; 4. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[14]; 5. 9J-Anthony Nicholson[3]; 6. 72J-Sam Johnson[7]; 7. 7-Michelle Decker[11]; 8. 96-Cody Brewer[6]; 9. 14B-Jonathan Halford[5]; 10. 7JR-JD Black[8]; 11. 1X-Anthony Esberg[12]; 12. 19S-Hunter Schuerenberg[2]; 13. (DNF) 1A-Justin Allgaier[4]; 14. (DNF) 61-Kenny Koelsch[10]; 15. (DNF) 18-Travis Welpott[9]; 16. (DNS) 81G-Chase Jones



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


A Feature (30 Laps): 1. 2J-Justin Grant[2]; 2. 3G-Kyle Cummins[1]; 3. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[18]; 4. 08-Tanner Thorson[20]; 5. 21-Daryn Pittman[5]; 6. 71G-Damion Gardner[3]; 7. 97K-Jesse Love[6]; 8. 87-Aaron Reutzel[14]; 9. 2G-JJ Yeley[17]; 10. 68-Ronnie Gardner[4]; 11. 32W-Casey Shuman[15]; 12. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[22]; 13. 28-Ace McCarthy[13]; 14. 57W-Kasey Kahne[11]; 15. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[24]; 16. 4CM-Cody Jessop[12]; 17. 37X-Bill Balog[7]; 18. 44X-Wesley Smith[23]; 19. 73B-Tyler Edwards[16]; 20. 15F-Kinzer Edwards[21]; 21. 2X-Brent Beauchamp[10]; 22. 10J-Lane Goodman[19]; 23. (DNF) 56I-Luke Icke[8]; 24. (DNF) 14-Jesse Colwell[9]


Lap Leader(s): Justin Grant 1-30
Hard Charger: Tanner Thorson +16

Grant Returns to Form, Underdog Shines Friday at Chili Bowl