From Lonnie Wheatley, David Cochran Photo
TULSA, Okla. (December 22, 2010) – Twenty-four previous years of epic Chili Bowl competition at the QuikTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway has produced an exclusive club of event champions and legends.
And, there’s only one time each year that the active members of that group will sling the clay at the same time in the Tulsa fairgrounds building that is under the eternal watch of the Golden Driller.
That occasion is the Vacuworx International Race of Champions, and the 16-car field has now been set for VIROC III, which takes place during the Tuesday night, January 11, Warren CAT Qualifier at the 25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
In addition to the $2,500-to-win, $300-to-start Race of Champions, approximately one-fourth of the approximately 260 Chili Bowl competitors will battle it out through a full card of heat races, qualifiers, “C” Mains, “B” Mains and “A” Main that will set their position in Saturday’s slate of championship feature events.
While no driver has ever posted back-to-back wins in the Chili Bowl Nationals, Brad Loyet of Sunset Hills, MO, vies for a second consecutive Vacuworx International Race of Champions triumph after besting last year’s 16-car VIROC field.
Loyet was awarded a spot in the second edition of the Race of Champions after a 21-win 2009 season, the first such season in Midget racing since Billy Boat knocked down 21 wins fourteen years earlier in 1995. Loyet made the most of it by taking the win after five-time Chili Bowl champion Sammy Swindell topped the inaugural VIROC in 2009.
The field for VIROC III is as follows:
1 Sammy Swindell (Germantown, TN) – The only driver in Chili Bowl history to take more than two Golden Drillers, the legendary Sprint Car shoe has claimed five event triumphs. Swindell topped the third Chili Bowl in 1989, added three more in the 90’s (1992, 1996 and 1998) and then snapped a ten-year dry spell with his fifth win in 2009.
1J J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ) – One of two VIROC wildcards, the past USAC triple crown champ has spent the bulk of the past several seasons among the NASCAR ranks. Yeley’s January heroics are the stuff of Chili Bowl lore, including back-to-back alphabet runs that netted 58 positions gained in ’03 (“H” to “D”) and 69 positions gained in ’04 (“F” Main to third in the “A” Main).
4x Dave Darland (Lincoln, IN) – After his Chili Bowl record run of ten consecutive championship feature starts was snapped last year, Darland takes the wheel of the Wilke-Pak entry in the Race of Champions. The Wilke-Pak team claimed the Golden Driller in 2005 with Tracy Hines.
05 Brad Loyet (Sunset Hills, MO) – Gearing up for a transition to the Lucas Oil ASCS ranks in 2011, the reigning VIROC champ bagged another 13 wins in 2010 along with the POWRi Midget title.
05g Damion Gardner (Concord, CA) – After snaring the Golden Driller in 2008, “The Demon” joins forces with the Loyet Motorsports camp for the 2011 Chili Bowl.
15h Scott Hatton (Roscoe, IL) – The four-time Badger Midget champ, most recently in 2009, bested a field of 48 competitors in the second edition of the Chili Bowl Nationals in 1988.
15m Jay Drake (Val Verde, CA) – The 2001 Chili Bowl champ hooks up with car owner Scooter Ellis for the 2011 Chili Bowl.
21k Cory Kruseman (Ventura, CA) – One of only four drivers to post multiple Chili Bowl wins, “The Kruser” captured the Golden Driller for the first time in 2000 and then again in 2004. Kruseman scored a qualifying night feature win last year.
24 Tracy Hines (Wilkinson, IN) – One of just ten drivers in event history to start ten or more Saturday championship features, Hines put the Wilke-Pak team in Chili Bowl victory lane in 2005.
35 Johnny Heydenreich (Indianapolis, IN) – The winner of the Fourth Annual Chili Bowl Nationals in 1990, Heydenreich is back for his 20th Chili Bowl in 2011. Only four drivers have reached the 20-year-mark (Donnie Lehmann, Rich Camfield, Steve Knepper and Sammy Swindell).
39 Kevin Swindell (Germantown, TN) – “The Bulldog” outdid his old man and 254 others to become the youngest winner in Chili Bowl history last January at just 20 years of age.
39c Bryan Clauson (Noblesville, IN) – Second consecutive National Midget Driver of the Year honors along with second consecutive wins in both the Belleville Midget Nationals and Turkey Night earned Clauson a VIROC wildcard bid.
39m Tim McCreadie (Watertown, NY) – The dirt Late Model and DIRT Modified ace still ranks as the only Chili Bowl winner without a primarily open-wheel background. The 2006 Chili Bowl king takes on Tulsa with a new team this time around.
47x Garrett Hansen (Manhattan Beach, CA) – Hansen handles the driving duties for Andy Bondio, a three-time car-owning Chili Bowl champion with Lealand McSpadden (1991) and Cory Kruseman (2000 and 2004).
71 Cole Whitt (Alpine, CA) – Last year’s Chili Bowl runner-up represents the Keith Kunz Motorsports team that took top Bowl honors on back-to-back occasions with Jay Drake (2001) and Tony Stewart (2002).
91x Jason Leffler (Long Beach, CA) – Wheeling a Kasey Kahne Racing entry, the ten-time Chili Bowl championship main event starter earned his Golden Driller as the owner of Damion Gardner’s 2008 winning mount.
The starting grid for the Third Annual Vacuworx International Race of Champions will be determined by the fans. Some lucky fans will be plucked from the massive Tuesday night crowd to select from some randomly marked Lucas Oil Products, in effect drawing for the starting position of the driver they’ve been paired with.
A limited number of tickets are available for the Tuesday night, January 11, Warren CAT Chili Bowl Qualifier and Vacuworx International Race of Champions for just $43 apiece. Tickets may be obtained by calling the ticket office at 918-838-3777.
Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Quick Facts:
What: 25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals
Where: Tulsa Expo Raceway – ¼-mile clay oval inside the QuikTrip Center at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds
January 11-15, 2011
Tuesday – Warren CAT Qualifying Night plus Vacuworx Int’l Chili Bowl Race of Champions
Wednesday – River Spirit Casino Qualifying Night
Thursday – Qualifying Night
Friday – Vacuworx International Qualifying Night
Saturday – Lucas Oil Championship Feature Events
Past Winners: Kevin Swindell (2010), Sammy Swindell (2009, 1998, 1996, 1992 and 1989), Damion Gardner (2008), Tony Stewart (2007 and 2002), Tim McCreadie (2006), Tracy Hines (2005), Cory Kruseman (2004 and 2000), Dan Boorse (2003 and 1999), Jay Drake (2001), Billy Boat (1997), Donnie Beechler (1995), Andy Hillenburg (1994), Dave Blaney (1993), Lealand McSpadden (1991), Jon Heydenreich (1990), Scott Hatton (1988), Rich Vogler (1987).
Trade Show: Always a popular attraction at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is the Trade Show, which is open to the public each day (Tuesday through Saturday) free of charge. All variety of racing products, apparel and more is available with well over 100 different vendors. The Trade Show covers approximately 20,000 square feet.
Tickets: A limited number of reserved seats for Tuesday night’s Warren CAT Qualifying Event and the Third Annual Vacuworx International Chili Bowl Race of Champions are available for $43 per person and may be obtained by calling 918-838-3777 or at the gate if still available. Pit passes for all five nights are available at the gate as well.
Chili Bowl on TV: Portions of the 25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals will be broadcast on SPEED TV on a tape-delayed basis.
Chili Bowl on the Net: All official news pertaining to the 25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, including official entry lists, race results and recaps, is available first at www.chilibowl.com. Also, all five nights of the Chili Bowl Nationals will be broadcast live (audio) on www.racinboys.com.
Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is available at http://www.chilibowl.com/ or by calling 918-838-3777.