INDIANAPOLIS — RAMS Racing owner Rick Young admitted Monday morning that he was as surprised as many fans were when it was revealed that Justin Grant would move to RMS Racing next season.
However, overriding much of that surprise — and disappointment, Young added — was a sense of pride and gratitude for the two years that Grant spent with his operation.
Without Grant’s impressive performances, Young told Sprint Car & Midget he doesn’t believe his team would be viewed the way it is in the current landscape: as a proven contender and with top-flight cars.
“What I want people to know is this: as tremendously disappointed as we are that Justin won’t be driving our cars next year, we’re so appreciative and owe him a debt of gratitude for all the work he put in to making our team relevant over the last two years,” Young said. “We put a great deal together for Justin; it was one that worked for me, worked for Jeff (Taylor, of team sponsor Rockwell Security), and it worked for Justin. Justin was his own crew chief and that’s what he wanted. When we put this deal together, he wanted to be a crew chief and wanted to have complete control over the midget operation to be able to do it how he wanted. And that’s what we gave him.
“There’s good and bad in that, right? The good is that Justin Grant made RAMS Racing relevant. The bad is, obviously, that he’s leaving for another opportunity,” Young continued. “He showed that we had great equipment and if you could wheel a race car, you could win in our equipment. With that said, mine and Jeff’s phones have rung off the hook over the last 72 hours as this news and what was happening began to creep out. A lot of talented people want to drive our race cars and that’s exciting for us.
“You’re never going to replace Justin Grant; he’s one of the best there is, and while we want whoever comes next to go out and beat him on the race track, he’ll always be a part of the RAMS Racing family.”
While Grant put Young on the map as a team owner with his preliminary-night victory during the 2019 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, Young was quick to point out his pedigree of success goes back further than that.
“I think people forget sometimes that RAMS Racing didn’t start with Justin Grant,” he noted. “Our first foray into national midgets was actually with Logan Seavey in POWRi competition in 2017, the year that Logan won the championship. That car was entered under Austin Brown Racing, but I owned the car and paid for it that season that Logan drove to the title in the No. 4a. Prior to that, we had the first Ecotec D2 midgets in the country, pretty much, and Dillon Silverman (now an engineer at Stewart-Haas Racing) was part of the launch of the ASCS midget division on the West Coast in one of our cars. We’ve been around and we’re not planning on going anywhere.
“The way we came out of the blocks at the Chili Bowl (in 2019), it kind of made everyone go, ‘Well, who the hell are these guys?’ But we’ve always had success in whatever we’ve decided to do and we plan to continue that tradition into the future.”
Young also noted Grant will still be involved with RAMS Racing in the lead up to the Chili Bowl Jan. 11-16, where Young plans to field “two or three entries” at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Okla.
“Our relationship with Justin Grant is not over,” he said. “Justin is going to get our cars ready for the Chili Bowl and I think some of that is out of him feeling like he owes that to us to get them ready, which I appreciate given the timing of how all this came about. And then I’m sure we’ll end up doing some stuff with him within the sprint car deal that he’s working on.
“But in reality, I think what truly happened was that Justin doesn’t make a living driving a midget. He makes his living driving sprint cars and champ cars,” Young pointed out. “And with that being said, there will be times in his career when one of those will be more difficult than it has been the last two years. Those times are when he needs to focus more on that than on the midget, and showing up with his helmet and hopping in somebody else’s race car is a hell of a lot easier than driving the hauler, working on the midget and then showing up at the track to race it as well.
“I want to see Justin win every time he’s in a race car, unless there is a RAMS Racing car starting right next to him. In that case, he can finish second (laughter). But we’re happy for him. We really are.”
Despite Grant’s sudden departure, will there be a RAMS Racing entry on the race track next year, at least for some of the marquee USAC national midget events on the 2021 calendar?
“Absolutely,” Young said. “There’s not even a question about that. We’re not going anywhere. We were all in with Justin, so everything we had in that deal was at his disposal, but going forward we look at Indiana Midget Week, the BC39, and events like those as places you’ll see RAMS Racing back out there.
“You haven’t seen the last of us and, going forward, we expect to continue contending for wins.”