Kyle Larson‘s quest for his first Chili Bowl Nationals championship resumes tonight.
Larson, Alex Bowman and NBC Sports broadcaster Dillon Welch are among those scheduled to compete Tuesday, day two of the six-day event that concludes Saturday night at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“There’s a handful of events throughout the year that get me excited, but the Chili Bowl is right up there at the top,” Larson said at a press conference Monday. “It’s hard to believe that this is my 13th year competing in this event. It’s pretty incredible. I look forward to it more and more each year.”
Larson finished second to Christopher Bell in last year’s Chili Bowl Nationals after being passed by Bell on the final lap.
“It took a few days, for sure, it took longer than any other race to get over that I’ve had in my career,” Larson said at Monday’s press conference of last year’s defeat. “I think when you go through defeats like that, it just makes you want it that much more and work harder to get better and probably, hopefully, someday when I do win, it’s going to make it feel that much more special. I would have obviously liked to (have won) but made a mistake and allowed Chris to get by and those are things you learn from. Hopefully, I don’t ever make that mistake again.”
On Monday night, 17-year-old Cannon McIntosh won his heat, qualifier and the feature to advance to Saturday’s main event. McIntosh drives for Keith Kunz Motorsports, which has won the last five Chili Bowl Nationals (Rico Abreu won in 2015-16 and Bell won from 2017-19).
Tyler Courtney finished second to also advance to Saturday night’s 55-lap A main.
NASCAR Xfinity driver Chase Briscoe finished ninth in Monday night’s feature race.
Kyle Larson became only the fourth driver in the 79 years of the Turkey Night Grand Prix to win the event at least three times, winning Friday night’s rain-delayed event at the 1/5-mile Ventura (California) Raceway.
Larson’s third win in the signature USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget race came after the event was delayed a day by rain. Larson joins Ron Shuman (eight wins), Billy Boat (three) and Christopher Bell (three) as the only drivers to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix at least three times. Larson also became the first driver to win thee consecutive USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget races in the state of California since Boat did so in 1995.
“I’ve always run well at the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Larson told USACracing.com. “To get another one feels great. I had to work hard for that one, everybody did, just to get to the checkered flag. It was extremely rough, but fun too because it was challenging, and the ruts changed all throughout the race.”
Larson passed Cannon McIntosh for the lead with 11 laps left in the 98-lap race to win. McIntosh led a race-high 67 laps before finishing second.
Larson also won the Turkey Night Grand Prix in 2012 and ’16.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a rough night. He flipped twice and finished 24th in the 30-car field. Tyler Courtney, the 2019 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion, also flipped. He finished 18th.
After being disqualified in an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car race Saturday night at the Dirt Oval at Route 66, Kyle Larson came back to win the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series “Summer Slash” feature.
In the All Star Circuit of Champions race, Larson started from the pole and led the first 13 laps. He was disqualified during a red flag break on Lap 14 for a work area violation when one of his crew members left the designated work area to speak with Larson under the caution. Aaron Reutzel went on to win the race.
In the USAC National Midget race, Larson set a track record in his first visit to the 3/8-mile dirt oval and started the feature sixth. He was contending for the lead by the first lap and took the lead on the third circuit. His lead grew until Lap 10 when JJ Yeley flipped down the frontstretch. He was uninjured.
Larson and Logan Seavey then dueled for the lead after the race resumed.
“I felt like I was running good laps,” Larson told usacracing.com. “Then, Logan threw a slider on me. I guess I was running 90 percent. I was like, ‘crap, I got to step it up,’ and that’s when I started making mistakes.”
Larson withstood the challenge and went on to win. Tyler Courtney was second. Tanner Carrick placed third.
The victory was the first this year for Larson and the 16th of his career in the National Midget Series.
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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Richard Childress Racing not only added Richard Petty Motorsports as a partner on Friday but added a grassroots sprint car team.
Dooling Hayward Motorsports will align with Richard Childress Racing beginning in 2018. Dooling Hayward Racing made the announcement Friday at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis. Brady Bacon is the team’s driver.
“It’s important for our race team to align with a grassroots racing organization like Dooling Hayward Motorsports and develop young drivers and crew members,” said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of RCR, in a statement. “This partnership will be a great opportunity to continue our developmental program and invest in a race team that are proven winners.”
“We are very grateful for the opportunity to compete in the 2018 Sprint Car and Midget season coupled with growing as a team,” said Joe Dooling Jr., President of Dooling Hayward Motorsports, in a statement. “Our relationship with Richard Childress Racing will travel well beyond our alliance. We have many of the same ideals that fit our vision to allow our continued success.”
The announcement comes a day after Clauson/Marshall Racing announced Thursday that Ryan Newman would partner with the team, which will field a sprint car for Tyler Courtney in 2018.
“Both Tim (Clauson) and Richard (Marshall) gave me the opportunity to be involved with something that I’ve thought about for a while,” Newman said. “I wanted to do this at the right place at the right time. It’s a no-brainer for me to be a part of something that I think will be great. This was a path in my career that made a difference. It was several rungs on the ladder that made a difference, being a part of USAC Midget, Sprint car and Silver Crown racing. It’s an honor to be a part of what they’re putting together.”
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