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Kyle Larson wins A main on opening night of Chili Bowl Nationals

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Kyle Larson continued his winning ways in a midget car, capturing the A main on the opening night of the Chili Bowl Nationals and qualifying for Saturday night’s feature race.

Larson recently returned from New Zealand where he won three of four midget races.

Tuesday night, Larson finished ahead of brother-in-law Brad Sweet and Tyler Courtney. All three advance to Saturday night’s A main on the quarter-mile clay oval inside the River Spirit Expo Center at Tulsa’s Expo Square.

Justin Allgaier finished 12th in Tuesday night’s race.

Racing continues Wednesday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Among those scheduled to compete are Rico Abreu, who has made 26 career Camping World Truck Series starts, and Donny Schatz, who competes in the World of Outlaws for Tony Stewart Racing.

Earlier in the night, Chad Boat won the Race of Champions exhibition race. Larson was second and Tanner Thorson was third. Sweet finished fifth. Also in the race, Abreu was 10th, reigning Chili Bowl champion Christopher Bell placed 11th, Kasey Kahne 14th and JJ Yeley was last in the 19-car field.

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Kyle Larson highlights NASCAR drivers entered into Chili Bowl Nationals

Chili Bowl Nationals
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The first major auto racing event of 2018 is the 32nd annual Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The midget car event will be held Jan. 9-13 at the River Spirit Expo Center and feature multiple NASCAR drivers, including Kyle Larson.

Larson will be joined by Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., defending Chili Bowl and Truck Series champion Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe and Justin Allgaier.

The entry list for the five-night event has been released and also the roster for all four nights of qualifying races.

The week culminates with the 55-lap championship event on Jan. 13.

Here’s when each NASCAR driver and other notable drivers will compete in a qualifying race.

Tuesday, Jan. 9

Kyle Larson

Chase Briscoe (former Brad Keselowski Racing driver)

Justin Allgaier (JR Motorsports driver in Xfinity Series)

Brad Sweet (competes for Kasey Kahne Racing)

Wednesday, Jan. 10

Rico Abreu (former Camping World Truck Series driver, two-time Chili Bowl winner)

Sammy Swindell (five-time Chili Bowl winner)

Donny Schatz (2017 World of Outlaws champion, competes for Tony Stewart Racing)

Thursday, Jan. 11

Christopher Bell

C.J. Leary (competing in entry owned by Alex Bowman)

Friday, Jan. 12

Kasey Kahne

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

J.J. Yeley

Daryn Pittman (competes for Kasey Kahne Racing)

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NASCAR stars spent off week getting in touch with racing roots

Photo: Kyle Larson
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Thanks to comments by Cup driver Kyle Larson and members of the media, there’s been a surge of talk about NASCAR needing to reach grassroots racing fans.

With all of NASCAR enjoying its first full off week, some drivers did their part for the cause last weekend as they fulfilled their need for speed.

Larson himself was one of them, as the Chip Ganassi Racing driver won a Sprint Car Challenge Tour event at Placerville Speedway in California. It was his second race at the 1/4-mile track in the last month. The Cup points leader took his No. 57 car to the lead halfway through the 40-lap race and beat out 15-year-old Giovanni Scelzi according to the Sacramento Bee.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch took his talents to Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina, for a Super Late Model race.

Busch piloted his No. 51b car in the Easter Bunny 150, but it was a short night for the 2015 Cup champion. Busch’s run ended 15 laps into the 150-lap event due to mechanical problems.

Elsewhere, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart and Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell competed in Texas.

On Thursday, Kahne started a three-day marathon by finishing 20th in the Gator Outlaw Bash at Gator Motoroplex in Willis, Texas.

The weekend continued with a two-day World of Outlaws event at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas as Kahne was joined by Stewart and Bell.

In Friday’s 25-lap feature, Kahne finished 11th, Stewart placed 14th and Bell finished 18th. Saturday night went about as well for Kahne and Stewart in the 30-lap feature. Kahne finished 16th and Stewart 22nd. Meanwhile, Bell finished fourth as Brad Sweet, a Kasey Kahne Racing driver, won the event.

Aside from Bell and Stewart, these NASCAR drivers will return to their full-time jobs this weekend. The Cup series is back in action at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 on Sunday. While Larson leads the points, Busch is seventh and still seeks his first win of the season.

Kahne is 17th in the standings and is trying to earn his first victory since 2014 (Atlanta).

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Kyle Larson finishes 14th in his prelim feature at Knoxville

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Kyle Larson finished 14th in Thursday night’s preliminary feature at Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway and will have to transfer from the B feature Saturday night to race in the 56th annual Knoxville Nationals feature race.

Thursday night’s prelim feature was won by Tim Kaeding.

Brad Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing, posted the fastest time in qualifying, won the prelim B feature and finished eighth in the main feature. Former NASCAR driver Dave Blaney finished 13th in the B feature and did not advance to the 24-car main feature.

Full results from Thursday’s racing here. 

The main feature began with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pacing the field in Bryan Clauson’s sprint car, honoring his close friend who died Sunday from injuries suffered in a midget car crash at last weekend’s Belleville Nationals.

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Knoxville Nationals begins Wednesday with NASCAR flavor

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NASCAR will have a presence at the 56th annual Knoxville Nationals, which begins tonight at Knoxville Raceway.

Donny Schatz is the defending champion of the sprint car event, winning the crown for Tony Stewart Racing last year. Schatz has won the event nine of the past 10 years. Seven of those victories have come while driving for Stewart.

The four-day event begins with qualifying nights Wednesday and Thursday. Drivers earn points for how they perform in qualifying, heat and feature races. The top 16 in points from the two nights are locked in Saturday’s program. Friday’s racing will qualify more cars for Saturday’s action, which features four races leading up to the Knoxville Nationals feature race. The Nationals winner will earn $150,000.

NASCAR will be represented during the week.

Wednesday night features Shane Stewart, who drives for Larson Marks Racing, the team co-owned by Kyle Larson and Justin Marks. Also racing Wednesday is Daryn Pittman, who drives for Kasey Kahne Racing, Schatz and Camping World Truck Series driver Rico Abreu.

Thursday’s racing includes Larson, Brad Sweet, who drives for Kasey Kahne’s team and former NASCAR driver Dave Blaney. Also, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will pace the field that night in Bryan Clauson’s car, honoring his close friend who died Sunday from injuries suffered in a midget race.