The 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals will have a bit of a NASCAR flavor this week.
Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Rico Abreu are among the NASCAR drivers who will compete in the weeklong event, which concludes Saturday night. More than 370 drivers are entered in one of the nation’s premier midget car events.
The Chili Bowl Nationals, which begin today with practice, has racing Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Drivers are scheduled for particular nights and seek to earn advance to Saturday night’s 55-lap feature on the quarter-mile oval at the Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Abreu, who competes in the Camping World Truck Series, is the two-time defending champion of the event. He races Wednesday night.
Larson, who finished fifth in last year’s feature, is back to compete. He races Tuesday night.
Camping World Truck driver Christopher Bell, who finished 12th in last year’s feature, also returns and will race Thursday night. Xfinity driver Justin Allgaier also races Thursday.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished 16th in last year’s feature, races Friday night. Also racing Friday is J.J. Yeley.
For more information on the Chili Bowl, go to the event’s site. It features entry lists for each night, past performances, and more about the event.
A memorial service for Furniture Row Racing crew member Jim Watson will be held Friday in Lincolnton, North Carolina, his family announced Monday.
Watson, who served in a number of roles for both the No. 78 of Martin Truex Jr. and No. 77 of Erik Jones, passed away Saturday night after suffering a heart attack in Kansas City, Kansas, where the teams were preparing for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race.
The memorial will be from 4-6 p.m. ET Friday at the Warlick Funeral Home, 125 Dave Warlick Drive, in Lincolnton.
Watson’s obituary was included in the announcement of the memorial service:
Watson was born Sept. 27, 1962, in Kenosha, Wis., to Betty Paulus Watson and the late David Harrison Watson. He is survived by his wife, Laurie Ann Watson; a daughter, Brittany May Watson; his mother, Betty L. Watson; brother, Mike Watson; stepchildren, Eric James Conover and fiancé Claudia Rodriguez, and Matthew Sean Conover; Michael Patrick Conover, and wife Michele, and Nicholas Ian Conover; three grandchildren, Patrick Michael Conover, Michael Winston Conover, and Coleton Daniel Conover; nieces, Jennifer Watson and Katie J. Ballou; and many other uncles, aunts, cousins, and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be made to hatsalive.org.
NASCAR America at 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Round of 12 review, Round of 8 preview
Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and wraps up Sunday’s Round of 12 elimination round at Kansas Speedway.
Carolyn Manno hosts with Nate Ryan from Stamford, Connecticut. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and Kyle Petty will join us from NBC Charlotte.
On today’s show:
* The Round of 12 has been whittled down to eight drivers after a lot of drama and action in Kansas yesterday. We will rehash all of the excitement from Martin Truex Jr.’s emotional win and the adversity that only some of drivers were able to overcome.
* 7-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson made it on to the Round of 8 but not before dealing with his own challenges, including two spinouts. Now, Johnson heads to a trio of tracks that have been more than kind to the 48 team over the years.
* Elimination Sunday provided a big surprise with an engine failure for Kyle Larson, one of the favorites to take the championship this season. Despite his heartbreaking departure from the postseason, he did provide a positive outlook for the future.
If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.
Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.
Two rounds down, eight drivers eliminated, two more rounds to go with eight other drivers remaining.
That pretty much sums up the status of the NASCAR Cup playoffs.
Following Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, which cut the number of drivers still eligible for the Cup championship to eight, the Round of 8 semifinals begin with Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway.
Kansas winner Martin Truex Jr. continues to maintain his strangehold on the points going into the second-from-last playoff round.
Truex has a 52 point edge above the cut-off line, while Kyle Busch is 25 points to the good and Brad Keselowski is 9 points ahead.
Martinsville Speedway’s little .526-mile paper clip shaped short track will host two very big NASCAR races this weekend.
First, the NASCAR Cup Series begins the Round of 8 semifinal round with Sunday’s First Data 500.
The original 16-driver field that began the playoffs at Chicago six races ago has been pared to just eight drivers remaining and with four races left.
Also, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicks off the Round of 6 semifinal round with the Texas Roadhouse 200.
Lastly, the NASCAR Xfinity Series enjoys this weekend off. It returns to action next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, when all three of NASCAR’s premier series will be in action.
NASCAR Cup Series – First Data 500
There are 40 cars entered in Sunday’s race. While the preliminary NASCAR entry list indicates two driver positions being open, a press release was sent out this morning that one of those vacant seats has been filled.
The No. 51 Chevrolet of Rick Ware Racing is listed as having no driver, but the team announced today that 20-year-old Kyle Weatherman will make his NASCAR Cup debut and drive the car in Sunday’s race.
Weatherman will also drive for RWR at Phoenix in the penultimate NASCAR Cup playoff race.
That leaves just one driver’s seat that needs to be filled for Sunday’s race: the No. 83 Toyota of BK Racing.
Jimmie Johnson won this race last year, one big step on his way to winning a seventh NASCAR Cup championship, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt for most championships won by a driver.
Johnson has won nine times at Martinsville. If there’s any place for him to begin his push for a record eighth championship, the tiny southern Virginia track is just the place to do so. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski won at Martinsville this spring.