A look at NASCAR drivers competing in 2021 Chili Bowl


UPDATE (1-8-2021): Garrett Smithley will replace Cody Ware in the No. 17D entry for Koontz Racing in next week’s Chili Bowl Nationals. According to Jacob Seelman of SprintCarAndMidget.com, Ware had to back out of the event due to other obligations.

Smithley ran 26 races last season in the NASCAR Cup Series for several teams, including Rick Ware Racing, Spire Motorsports, B.J. McLeod Motorsports, and Tommy Baldwin Racing.


Over 300 drivers will compete at the 2021 Chili Bowl Nationals next week in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

One of the country’s top dirt-track events, the Chili Bowl has again drawn big names from other disciplines of motorsport, including NASCAR.

That group is headlined by Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, who makes his Chili Bowl debut.

Also in the group are reigning Chili Bowl champion Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell, whose three-year hold on the Golden Driller trophy was broken by Larson in 2020.

Here’s a look at the full-time NASCAR drivers who are set to take part.

00C – Ryan Newman, Clauson-Marshall Racing

Ryan Newman, the 1999 USAC Silver Crown champion, is back with Clauson-Marshall Racing after he made his Chili Bowl debut with the team last year.

Newman won an E-Main race before his run ended with a seventh-place finish in his D-Main race.

01 – Kyle Larson, Kyle Larson Open-Wheel

After a tumultuous 2020, Kyle Larson will go for another Chili Bowl win before making his full-time return to NASCAR with Hendrick Motorsports.

He competed in last month’s Carolina Midget Showdown at Millbridge Speedway in North Carolina, where he split feature wins with incoming Cup rookie Chase Briscoe and claimed the overall event victory.

1A – Justin Allgaier, Team Ripper

Fresh off another strong season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Allgaier leads a four-car Chili Bowl program for the Team Ripper outfit.

Last year, Allgaier made his fourth career start in the Saturday A-Main, but a flat tire and steering problems relegated him to a 21st-place finish.

2G – J.J. Yeley, Glenn Styres/Jack Yeley Racing

One of seven USAC Triple Crown champions in history (Silver Crown, Sprint Car, Midgets), J.J. Yeley is attempting his 26th career Chili Bowl.

Yeley has not made the Saturday A-Main since 2015. Last year, his run ended with a 10th-place finish in his Saturday B-Main race.

His best career Chili Bowl finish came in 2007, when he was runner-up to winner Tony Stewart.

5 – Chase Briscoe, Chase Briscoe Racing

Incoming Cup rookie Chase Briscoe made his Chili Bowl debut in 2015. His lone Saturday A-Main appearance came in 2017, where he was one of six drivers to suffer a DNF.

In each of the past two years, Briscoe’s run in the Chili Bowl has ended with eighth-place finishes in the Saturday B-Main – one spot short of advancing to the A-Main.

9E – Chase Elliott, Paul May – Diaedge Racing

The aforementioned Carolina Midget Showdown was also Chase Elliott’s midget racing debut, but he impressed with third- and fourth-place finishes in the event’s twin features.

Afterwards, Elliott noted the extra aggression on dirt as something he’s had to adjust to.

“You just have to go,” he told SprintCarandMidget.com. “There is no waiting around … The intensity level is up from the get-go and not in just the last 100 miles or so of one of our normal (Cup) events. That’s really cool, though, honestly. If you have an opportunity, you have to take it. I think that’s what makes this type of racing entertaining sometimes, for sure.”

17S – Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clauson-Marshall Racing

On Christmas Day, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was confirmed as the fifth and final driver for Clauson-Marshall Racing’s Chili Bowl program in 2021.

Stenhouse has made the Saturday A-Main in three of the past five years. Last year, his run ended with a 17th-place finish in his Saturday C-Main.

45M – Brett Moffitt, Bundy Built Motorsports

Brett Moffitt, who is set to run full-time in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, will make his Chili Bowl debut for Bundy Built Motorsports.

Moffitt’s team in the Truck Series, Niece Motorsports, will also support his entry.

84X – Christopher Bell, CB Industries

Christopher Bell has already raced in Tulsa this winter. He competed across four classes in last week’s Tulsa Shootout, a major micro-sprint event that runs in the same venue as the Chili Bowl.

Bell made the A-Feature in three of his four classes. His best finish was second in the Stock Non-Wing class behind winner Brian Carber. He also finished sixth in both Non-Wing Outlaw and A-Class.

Owner – Alex Bowman

Alex Bowman is fielding a two-car program for C.J. Leary (No. 55V) and Jake Swanson (No. 55X).

Leary won the 2019 USAC National Sprint Car championship. He has made the Chili Bowl A-Feature in the last two years, finishing 17th in 2020 and eighth in 2019.

Swanson last made the Chili Bowl A-Feature in 2017, finishing fifth.

Other drivers with NASCAR ties at the Chili Bowl include:

  • Kasey Kahne – 15-year Cup Series veteran (2004-18)
  • Brad Sweet – Former part-time driver in Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series (2009-13)
  • David Gravel – Made two Camping World Truck Series starts in 2020 (best finish: 10th at Michigan)
  • Jesse Love – 2020 ARCA Menards Series West champion
  • Rico Abreu – Competed full-time in Camping World Truck Series in 2016
  • Ryan Ellis – 79 career national series starts (2012-19)
  • Tanner Berryhill – 42 career national series starts (2012-14, 2018)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole


TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole


TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.


Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?


Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.