When 17-year-old Grant Quinlan takes the green flag on Sunday afternoon in the 44th Annual Winchester 400, he’ll have his first ARCA/CRA Super Series championship all but wrapped up. That’s something that still hasn’t been completely grasped by Quinlan. Even though it’s so close, he’s still having a hard time believing it.
That goal has been partially achieved. Quinlan has won a race this season, but just one. That win came at Baer Field Speedway (IN) earlier this season. But that’s okay by Quinlan, because he still has one more race left to try to win this season, and it’s the biggest race of the season for Midwest Super Late Model racers.
“The biggest challenge is going and getting a win,” Quinlan said. “It’s one of the biggest tracks we go to and it’s our biggest race. It’s definitely going to be tough, but winning the Winchester 400 would be huge. It would definitely be the highlight of my career for sure.”
Quinlan said he knows that winning the Winchester 400 won’t be an easy feat. Winchester Speedway (IN) is a fast, bumpy, slick half-mile with daunting 37-degree banked corners. Quinlan lasted just 37 laps in the 100-lap race on Labor Day one month ago. A blown right front tire did him in that day.
But that doesn’t have Quinlan worried. He’s just hoping for a little extra outside help, though.
“If we can get some luck on our side we’ll be good,” he said. “We blew a right front last time. Hopefully we can qualify well too.”
The path to victory for Quinlan will be tough on Sunday. He’ll have to fight with some of short track racing’s best drivers from around the country. Last year’s NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and former Winchester 400 winner Chase Elliott, NASCAR XFINITY Series winner Erik Jones, Bubba Pollard, Daniel Hemric and more will be in Quinlan’s way.
“It’s always tough to beat those guys from down south that always run strong,” said Quinlan. “But it’s huge just to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of those guys. I look up to a lot of them like Chase Elliott and guys of that nature.”
To beat “those guys” Quinlan said he is going to be aggressive when he has to be, but cautious throughout much of the race. The Winchester 400 is normally a race of attrition, and Quinlan said that he’s aware of that.
“I think we have to be cautiously aggressive for the first 300 laps and get good track position,” he said. “Hopefully can qualify up front and not have to worry about that. I think the closer to the front you are the better chance you have of staying out of the wrecks.
“It’s definitely an endurance race. You have to survive the first 300 to be there at the end.”
Race fans can watch Grant Quinlan chase after his first ARCA/CRA Super Series championship in Sunday’s Winchester 400 live on pay-per-view on 51TV. Follow this link to purchase: http://speed51.com/51livetv-events/
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com