Justin Grant’s second straight USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship isn’t the only impressive accolade he repeated during the 2023 campaign.
For the third consecutive season, and fourth time overall, the Ione, Calif. racer captured the $10,000 Mike Curb USAC National Drivers Championship, amassing more total points across the three USAC national divisions throughout the duration of the 2023 campaign.
Grant (2021-2022-2023) now becomes just the third driver to win the honor in three consecutive seasons, joining J.J. Yeley (2001-2002-2003) and Bryan Clauson (2010-2011-2012).
Furthermore, with his first such Mike Curb USAC National Drivers Championship arriving in 2017, Grant also added his name to the very short list of drivers who’ve earned the reward four times overall, a list which includes only himself and Tracy Hines (2000-2008-2013-2014).
“To have my name alongside the legends and heroes of the sport, it’s why I love the lists and I love seeing where my career stacks up against other guys careers,” Grant explained. “I jokingly say that I feel like my name is devaluing that list, but it’s starting to feel more and more like it belongs. I know how big of a deal those guys were to me, watching them as I grew up and then getting to race against them. They’re huge names and icons and I’m awfully, awfully proud to have my name along with them.”
In making 73 combined USAC national starts in 2023, the Ione, Calif. native totaled 4,394 points, just 184 markers more than second place finishing Logan Seavey.
Curb is accustomed to “records” as a hit making musician and the founder of Curb Records, but now racers like Grant are beginning to make records of their own in association with Curb, a record Grant is proud to have his name be a part of.
“It’s super special for me to not only win it once, but to win it four times now,” Grant exclaimed. “Our on-track performance is one thing, but being able to keep car owners and partners and crew people happy and wanting to go up and down the road with me year after year is another point of pride. It’s a little bit different when we go win a big race or a series championship, which is entirely performance based. But to me, the Mike Curb award speaks more about your ability to manage your role as a driver and multiple race teams. I struggled with that early in my career, so it’s a point of pride now that I’ve been able to be successful at that.”
Additionally, Grant once again finished inside the top-three of all three USAC national divisions’ point standings, also doing so in 2021. In 2023, he tallied a first with the AMSOIL National Sprint Cars for TOPP Motorsports, second with the NOS Energy Drink National Midgets for RMS Racing and third with the Silver Crown series for Hemelgarn Racing. He now stands behind only Rich Vogler in that category, the man who was the first to finish inside the top-three in all three in 1980 before repeating in 1981 and again in 1989.
“Being able to be in the points hunt in all three divisions for a few years now is really cool,” Grant reflected. “We want to win all three, and when you don’t, it always feels like a bit of a disappointment, but it gives you a little perspective on the accomplishment and it’s nice to take a breath and look at the fact that there aren’t many guys who’ve had the opportunity to race for all three, and there’s even less guys who’ve had the opportunity to race for all three in a single year.”
Grant is beyond thankful for the opportunity, and while soaking in the accomplishments at season’s end, he doesn’t take any of it for granted.
“To be one of those guys, and to do my job after having that opportunity, makes me feel very grateful and fortunate for the opportunities I have, the car owners I have, the partners I have, the crews that work on them, my family at home and my wife and kids that support me while I’m out on the road.”
This year marked the 25th year of the Mike Curb USAC National Drivers Championship. Curb has offered the reward annually since the 1999 USAC season to honor USAC’s top overall points champion. Once known as the USAC Super License, the title was rechristened as the National Drivers Championship to more properly represent the accomplishment of achieving the feat, which so few have done. Now Grant will once again accept the honor during USAC’s Night of Champions at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis on Friday night, December 8, 2023.
“The passion he has for motorsports, and especially our form of motorsports, is great, and the fact that he has an award to honor and pay a guy who beats up and down the road and lays it out on the line night-in and night-out is incredible,” Grant said of Curb. “These are dangerous racecars at the end of the day, and when you’re in one as many nights of the year as we are, your odds of getting hurt go up substantially. It feels good to be recognized for that, and it feels good to be appreciated and it means a lot knowing that Mike Curb is willing to do that. He’s done this for a long time now, and I’m honored to win it.”
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