After Keith Kunz Motorsports drivers dominated the opening three nights at the 32nd Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, the fourth and final preliminary night belonged to Clauson-Marshall Racing with Justin Grant pulling off the clean sweep. Grant dominated his events winning his heat, qualifier and the 25 lap A-Main.
Grant started the A-Main from the outside of the front row but dropped back to third for the first half of the 25-lap race. A restart at lap 14 gave the Lone, CA driver an opening to drive his car deep into turn one on the low side to pull into second before drifting up to the high-lane.
It was a high-side pass on lap 17 around Damion Gardner that gave him the lead on lap 17 and he would not relinquish the top spot from that point on.
“I’m always thinking about going high,” Grant stated. “I knew the bottom would be slowing down and it was getting pretty thin there so I figured I could bail off to the top and probably make some ground on them.”
Behind Grant, Spencer Bayston grabbed the runner-up spot after starting the feature sixth.
“[We] had a decent spot in the ‘A’ but I didn’t really have the start I needed and it took me too long to get going and realize what my car was actually capable of,” Bayston said post-race.
“The last few laps I was able to figure that out and by that time it was just too late. I felt bad for my guys but I’m happy to be locked in.”
The feel-good story of the night belonged to Missouri’s Andrew Felker, who drove from 11th to grab the final podium spot and lock himself into Saturday’s A-Main. It was quite a comeback from where the week started for Felker.
“I made about ¾ of a lap in practice and flipped,” Felker explained. “Took it to the chassis shop and they normally work on Micro’s so we were straightening it and it sprung out of the braces and actually flipped off the table for a second time so it’s been quite the week so far.”
Felker and his crew’s performance earned them Friday’s PitBoxes.com Pit Crew of the Day Award, which will earn them a $100 PitBoxes.com gift certificate.
Felker doesn’t seem to be putting too much pressure on himself heading into the final day, “Right now I kind of feel like I’m playing with house money so just being able to be in the show is exciting”
Meanwhile, Grant’s focus now shifts to Saturday with the relief of prelim night behind him.
“Things can go so wrong on your prelim night, you don’t wanna get buried deep so this is a huge relief and now I can go home and just focus on doing my job tomorrow.”
Race fans can follow updates from the Chili Bowl by following @speed51dotcom on Twitter.
-By Mark Keeler, Speed51.com Operations Manager
-Photo credit: Speed51.com