It took Kyle Larson 13 tried before he finally won the Chili Bowl. Now, he has won the event two years in a row.
After one of the most historic seasons on dirt in 2020, Larson continued his dominance on Saturday night by earning his second Golden Driller trophy in the 55-lap A-Main race. Larson led every lap of the race after starting on the outside of the front row, but there were plenty of challengers that he had to fend off to secure the win. Pole sitter Justin Grant had several cracks at Larson, and fellow NASCAR Cup series driver Christopher Bell had a shot late in the race. Bell was trying to capture his 4th Chili Bowl victory but saw it slip away in the closing laps when he got to Larson’s rear. Bell slid up and the Turn 3 cushion sent him into a violent spin into the fence. Fortunately, Bell was not injured.
On the next restart, Grant made his move but he was not able to clear Larson, and the field suddenly got stacked up, sending Tyler Courtney into the air, ending his night. It was a green, white, checkered restart after that, in which Larson pulled away and won by 1.246 seconds over Grant. Tanner Thorson finished 3rd with Cannon McIntosh and Daryn Pittman rounding out the top five. Pittman earned the Hard Charger by gaining 15 positions from his 20th starting position in the A-Main.
Chris Windom finished 6th after starting in 14th position, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr coming home in 7th. Brad Sweet improved 11 spots to finish in 8th place as Spencer Bayston and Logan Seavey rounded out the top ten on Saturday. Cole Bodine, Alex Bright, Colby Copeland, Bell, and Courtney finished in positions 11-15. Rico Abreu, Blake Hahn, Kyle Cummins, Michael Kofoid, and Chase Johnson rounded out the top 20. Rounding out the main event were Thomas Meseraull, Brady Bacon, Jake Neuman, and Joe Miller.
Larson joins Bell (2017-2019) and Abreu (2015-2016) as the third driver in the last seven years that has won the Chili Bowl multiple times.
“To get two of these feels awesome,” Larson said after the race. “It was a different race than last year, but just thankful to get the chance to even come race here. I think a lot of us thought maybe we wouldn’t get to come run the Chili Bowl with the pandemic going on, so hats off to Emmett Hahn and everyone else with this event. It’s the greatest event in the world, and very lucky to be a part of it.”
Other notable names that didn’t advance to the main event included NASCAR Cup series champion Chase Elliott, who finished 7th in the F-main. Chase Briscoe finished 9th in his B-main. Ryan Newman finished 6th in the G-main and Justin Allgaier was 7th in his H-main after winning his I-main race. Both Kasey Kahne and Santino Ferrucci failed to finish their feature races.
35th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Preview
The unofficial green flag for the 2021 racing season will fly next week when things get underway for the 35th running of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. The biggest dirt midget event of the season will take place from January 11-16 at the Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Hundreds of drivers from various racing disciplines will descend upon the 1/4 mile dirt track with the hopes of being crowned champion. There are several drivers that will be making their Chili Bowl debuts, while former winners will also return for a shot at victory once again. That includes last year’s winner, Kyle Larson, who went on to have one of the most historic seasons on dirt.
The 2021 Chili Bowl entry list features 309 drivers. Last year there were 359 drivers entered.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott will be making his debut, as will Santino Ferrucci who is driving for Tanner Thorson Racing. Larson, who will be Elliott’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports next season, is the defending Chili Bowl champion. Another Hendrick driver, Alex Bowman, drove in the event each of the past two years. He won’t be driving this year but he is fielding two cars in the event for CJ Leary and Jake Swanson.
Christopher Bell won the event three consecutive years from 2017-2019. The dirt racing ace will be aiming for his fourth victory before he turns his attention to his new full-time job in Cup in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Another popular name in the field is Chase Briscoe, who will be making his Cup debut as a rookie driving Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Ford next season.
Other drivers from the NASCAR world include Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Justin Allgaier, Brett Moffitt, JJ Yeley, and Kasey Kahne. The stars of midget racing will all be on hand in the pursuit of victory. That includes the big-name drivers such as Tyler Courtney, Logan Seavey, Sammy Swindell, Brad Sweet, Justin Grant, Thomas Meseraull, Rico Abreu, Tanner Thorson, Brady Bacon, Zeb Wise, Shane Cottle, Kevin Thomas Jr, Leary, and Chris Windom.
Monday, January 11 – Cummins, Inc. Qualifying Night
Tuesday, January 12 – Warren CAT Qualifying Night plus the VIROC
Wednesday, January 13 – Circle City Raceway Qualifying Night
Thursday, January 14 – John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night
Friday, January 15 – Driven2SaveLives Qualifying Night
Saturday, January 16 – Lucas Oil Championship Feature Events
As for COVID guidelines, masks are to be worn at all times except when competitors put on a helmet. The other exception is while fans are eating or drinking. All employees, participants, and attendees will be tested for elevated body temperature. People will be given to option of a second test using a different thermometer. If the second test fails, they will not be allowed to enter the facility.
Matt Ward, Competition Director for the Nationals said, “If masks are not worn at the Shootout, the Tulsa Health Department said they will shut down the Chili Bowl.” Capacity has been limited to 6,900 allowing for 36 square feet per person inside the complex. The pit area and grandstands have both been limited to 25% each.
Fans can catch all of the Chili Bowl action live on FloRacing, which has acquired streaming rights for the event. FloSports will also exclusively broadcast the massive Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout, the largest event for micro sprint racing in the country, and will co-stream the 2021 Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by MAVTV Motorsports Network with the RacinBoys Broadcasting Network, which will remain involved in the streaming production for the series. The final features will be shown live on the MAVTV Motorsports Network.