The first big race of the season brings the biggest excitement! As the team traveled to Ocala, Florida to Bubba Raceway Park for the WInter Dirt Games X, they had winning on their mind. The first time the Nos Energy Drink #4 hit the dirt was on Wednesday night for practice. With JG logging the fastest track time that evening, the team felt pretty good about the first race of the season. A minor collision at the end of practice on Wednesday caused some extra work that was unplanned for. However, the extra work paid off in the end.
Night #1 of Winter Dirt Games started with JG qualifying 12th. He went on to win his heat race and transfer directly to the Feature. JG started 12th and knew he had some work to do to get the Nos Energy Drink #4 up front. Slider after slider, JG worked his way up to the 3rd place position. On the final lap of the race, JG took a shot at the lead in turn 4. While that didn't pan out, JG still had a podium finish for the first race of the season, finishing in 3rd.
Night #2 of Winter Dirt Games saw a better qualifying run with JG finishing 5th on the field. He, again, went on to win his heat race and transferred to the Feature. With JG starting in the front row for the race, the team felt very confident with their odds of coming out on top. With a tough field of competition, JG fell back a few spots. A few caution re-starts helped get him back up to the front, and soon enough he was in P2 gunning for the lead. With 2 laps to go, the leader headed off the track and into the pits, leaving JG in the lead. On the re-start, JG lead the final 2 laps and sailed into Victory Lane with the #4!
In his post race interview with USAC, JG stated: “Every win in the No. 4 car is the most rewarding win,” Grant admitted. “It just feels like every time I’ve pulled into victory lane, it’s the most rewarding win I’ve ever had."
With that excitement, the team went into the final night of Winter Dirt Games feeling confident. The qualifying run put the team 16th fast on the field. JG went on to be 3 for 3 in his heat races for the Winter Dirt Games series, winning his heat race on the final night. He started 16th in the Feature, knowing there was plenty of work ahead, but we had the car to do it. On lap 20 of the Feature while running 11th, JG clipped an infield tire and spun out in turn 4. The contact bent the front axle and sheared the Pittman arm, ending the evening for the #4. The team ended up with a 21st place finish at the end of the Feature.
After 3 races, JG sits 4th in USAC AMSOIL National points. The team is looking forward to the next USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car race on March 30 at Lawrenceburg Speedway.
**Photo Credits to Rich Forman Photos**