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Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe to compete in USAC’s Turkey Night Grand Prix

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Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell and Chase Briscoe are not done with their racing calendar.

The NASCAR drivers will in California tomorrow night to compete in the 77th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix, a 98-lap USAC Midget race at Ventura Raceway.

Larson, who won four Cup races this season and finished third in the season finale, is the defending “Turkey Night” winner and won it for the first time in 2012. This is his third USAC Midget appearance of the year.

Bell, days removed from clinching the Camping World Truck Series championship, will attempt to win the race after claiming victory in 2014.

Briscoe, who will drive for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series next year, is coming off his first Truck Series win at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Rookie of the Year honors.

Other past “Turkey Night” winners include Billy Boat (1995-96) and Jason Leffler (2005).

Cars will be on track beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

The 98-lap race can be watched live here and on demand the day after the race here.

Bootie Barker to finish season, but Germain Racing will have new crew chief in 2018

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Germain Racing announced Tuesday that veteran NASCAR Cup crew chief Robert “Bootie” Barker will finish the season with the team in that position, “but will not be with Germain Racing in 2018.”

Barker, 46, has been crew chief at Germain Racing, primarily for the No. 13 car, since 2010. Ty Dillon replaced Casey Mears as driver of the No. 13 Chevrolet this season. Dillon has struggled; his best finish in his first full Cup season has been 11th at Talladega four weeks ago.

The team did not state who would replace Barker.

Barker has served as a crew chief primarily in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series since 2001. Drivers he has worked with include Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss, Ward Burton, Jason Leffler, Jeff Green, Johnny Sauter, Jeremy Mayfield, Scott Wimmer, Blake Feese, Scott Riggs, Patrick Carpentier, Max Papis, Michael Waltrip, Casey Mears and Dillon.

In 479 Cup races as a crew chief, Barker has no wins, three top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. In 94 Xfinity Series races, he has four wins, 20 top fives and 39 top 10s. He also served as a crew chief in the Truck series for three races.

UPDATE: The team announced Wednesday that, like Barker, technical director Chris Andrews and engineer Scott Whitehead will complete the current season but will not return in 2018.

Cole Whitt joins TriStar Motorsports for full-time Cup ride

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cole-whittCole Whitt will drive full-time for TriStar Motorsports in the NASCAR Cup Series this season in the No. 72. TriStar returns to the Cup level after a three-year absence.

It will be Whitt’s third full-time Cup season in four years. He ran 26 races in 2016 for Premium Motorsports and in two Xfinity Series races for TriStar.

Whitt, 25, will be sponsored by the Florida Lottery for the Daytona 500 and by RTIC Coolers, Rinnai and Carolina Skiff throughout the season. Frank Kerr will be the crew chief.

TriStar and Whitt are guaranteed a starting spot in the 40-car field after leasing a charter from Front Row Motorsports that it acquired BK Racing.

“I’m looking forward to being back in the seat at TriStar Motorsports for the Monster Energy Cup Series for 2017,” Whitt said in a press release. “We are glad to have Florida Lottery back with us for the season opener at Daytona and are fortunate to continue and expand our relationship with Rinnai, RTIC Coolers and Carolina Skiff throughout the year.”

Whitt has 112 starts in the Cup Series since 2011, but has yet to record any top five or top-10 finishes.

Owned by Mark Smith, TriStar Motorsports has fielded cars in 197 Cup Series races since 1989. In 2013, it competed in 15 races with Mike Bliss, Alex Kennedy and Jason Leffler, who was killed three days after his lone start at Pocono Raceway in a sprint car race at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey.

“We are taking a different approach and expanding our competitive platform for 2017,” Smith said in a press release. “It is an opportunity we feel is the best direction for this season and we are pleased to have Cole and his partners involved in those efforts.”

Whitt will attempt to make the Daytona 500 in one of the Feb. 23 qualifying duels.

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Rico Abreu, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Larson part of Chili Bowl’s NASCAR list

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Last year Rico Abreu stood on top of his right rear tire and stared into the future after winning the 29th annual Chili Bowl.

That victory contributed to an invitation to join HScott Motorsports in the K&N East series and propelled him into the NASCAR ranks where he won his first race in Columbus, Ohio in July.

Last Friday, Abreu became the latest of six current NASCAR drivers to toss his name into contention to defend his title in the 30th running of the Chili Bowl, according to a press release from the track.

Abreu will join fellow NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson as they head back from the Winter Heat series held at Cocopah Speedway in Somerton, Arizona. This year’s Chili Bowl will begin on January 12th, three days after the five-day Winter Heat series wraps up.

Located near Yuma, Arizona, Cocopah is a natural place to race during the winter, but the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma takes a little more preparation. This 1/4th-mile oval is constructed inside the Tulsa Expo Center and last year had one of the most expensive tractor operators of all time contributing to its creation.

Long-time Chili Bowl participant Tony Stewart essentially traded in his sprint car and instead spent the weekend aboard an earth-moving machine.

Stewart was the winner of the 2007 edition of the Chili Bowl and is part of an 11-year streak of NASCAR-related winners of this race. Former developmental drivers Tracy Hines, Tim McCreadie, Kevin Swindell, Sammy Swindell, and Bryan Clauson have won recent editions of the Chili Bowl. Hines started the streak in 2005. Damion Gardner won in 2008 and while he does not have any NASCAR starts, his car was owned by Jason Leffler that year.

Stewart also won in 2002.

The odds are good that a NASCAR connection will find its way into the A-Main again this year. Joining Abreu, Kahne, and Larson will be current NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier, and Alex Bowman.

Even with that stout lineup of stock car stars, it will not be an easy path to the finale: More than 200 drivers are currently entered to take a bite out of the Chili Bowl.

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