From Lonnie Wheatley
TULSA, Okla. (January 10, 2011) – The bowl season is winding down. It will end on the highest of notes though, with this week’s 25th Anniversary of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the QuikTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway.
And, after two rounds of practice on Monday for the approximately 260 car international field, the first official green flag of the milestone 25th Annual event flies on Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m.
Currently, 67 of the 260-ish entries are set to tackle the ¼-mile indoor clay oval on Tuesday night’s Warren CAT Qualifier, with the 16-car VIROC III (Third Annual Vacuworx International Race of Champions) on the Tuesday night card as well.
Among those scheduled 67 Tuesday combatants and 16 VIROC hopefuls, one driver is pulling double duty. Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, IN, will try to lock himself into Saturday’s 50-lap championship finale with a top-three finish on Tuesday night, while also chasing VIROC honors.
“I’m looking forward to it, hopefully we can have a good night and then kind of relax and take it easy for a couple of days,” the two-time National Midget Driver of the Year commented. “Then it will be back to work on Saturday, and hopefully late on Saturday.”
Those with good finishes on Tuesday and the three following qualifying nights will have later work times on Saturday. Struggles on the qualifying night make for an earlier Saturday work time and an alphabet soup of features to potentially run through.
Clauson, with a career-best Chili Bowl finish of fourth in 2008, rides a Midget racing wave of momentum that includes two consecutive Belleville Midget Nationals triumphs and two straight Turkey Night Grand Prix wins.
While Clauson will pilot the Corey Tucker Racing/Mike Curb NOS Energy Drink No. 39c in the Warren CAT Qualifier, he will jump into one of the other team cars for VIROC III.
Clauson faces a rugged field of Tuesday competitors, including 20-year-old Broken Arrow, OK, shoe Brady Bacon that will try to keep the Golden Driller (that’s Silver this year) in the Sooner State for the first time since the Andy Hillenburg triumph of 1994. Bacon is part of a stout Keith Kunz Motorsports camp that also has 2010 runner-up Cole Whitt in VIROC III.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., takes the wheel of the RFMS No. 3 that Darren Hagen topped a Chili Bowl qualifier with last year, with other leading Tuesday night contenders including the likes of New Zealand’s Michael Pickens, Midget ace Brad Kuhn (Avon, IN), four-time King of Indiana Sprint Series champion Jon Stanbrough (Avon, IN), Badger Midget champ Mike Hess (Springfield, IL) King of California Sprint Car champion Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA) and Jac Haudenschild (Wooster, OH) among others.
Tuesday’s action will also include VIROC III, a special $2,500-to-win race featuring past Chili Bowl champions and standouts. Names in the VIROC field include a pair of Swindell’s, Yeley, Darland, Loyet, Gardner, Hatton, Drake, Kruseman, Hines, Heydenreich, Clauson, McCreadie, Hansen, Whitt and Leffler.
Tickets are available for Tuesday night’s action for $43 apiece. Tickets may be obtained by calling the Chili Bowl ticket office at 918-838-3777 or at the ticket window. Only pit passes remain for the balance of the week.
Tuesday’s hot laps begin at 5:00 p.m., with the first heat race going green at 6:00 p.m.
Monday’s practice ran off in smooth fashion with just a handful of incidents, the wildest of which was Late Model ace Jimmy Owens’ first Midget laps resulting in a wild ride down the backstretch. Owens will be in action during Wednesday night’s River Spirit Casino Qualifier.
Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifier Roster:
0s Ryan Smith (Kunkletown, PA)
0TN Bill Stines (Dover, TN)
O1 Orval Zane Burke, Jr. (Salinas, CA)
1T Tony Roney (Herculaneum, MO)
1tx Paul White (Waco, TX)
2 Mark Bush (Cumming, GA)
3 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Olive Branch, MS)
3a Dustin Arnall (Hartville, MO)
4F Chad Frewaldt (Kansas City, KS)
4h Mike Hess (Springfield, IL)
05p Michael Pickens (Auckland, NZ)
5F Ryan Cole (Porter, OK)
O6 Mario Clouser (Auburn, IL)
6e Evan Margeson (Tacoma, WA)
6r Jody Rosenboom (Rock Rapids, IA)
7bx Joe Boyles (Greenwood, MO)
7c Pat Schudy (Springfield, MO)
7ca Caleb Armstrong (New Castle, IN)
8 Randi Pankratz (Atascadero, CA)
8b Bud Kaeding (Campbell, CA)
9d Sean Dodenhoff (Bakersfield, CA)
9m Cory Mallo (Cheyenne, WY)
10F Nick Foster, Jr. (San Jose, CA)
11 Kody Swanson (Kingsburg, CA)
12 Chris Gurley (Crown Point, IN)
12k Rick Hendrix (Palmdale, CA)
14az Mike Daniels (West Valley, UT)
14jr Matt Streeter (Galt, CA)
15b Jackie Burke (Houston, TX)
17b Brad Kuhn (Avon, IN)
17w Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)
18 Floyd Alvis (San Carlos, CA)
19jr Chad Shields (Grain Valley, MO)
19n Nick O’Neal (Wagoner, OK)
20 Shon Deskins (Waddell, AZ)
21T Eric Todd (Falcon, MO)
27 Nick Chivello (Manteca, CA)
27s Andy Shouse (Oklahoma City, OK)
33h Cameron Hagin (Broken Arrow, OK)
36 Jonathan Beason (Broken Arrow, OK)
36dd J.T. Imperial (Mesa, AZ)
37F Tanner Berryhill (Bixby, OK)
38 Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA)
39c Bryan Clauson (Noblesville, IN)
40 Andy Huston (Roseville, IL)
43 Brent Beauchamp (Indianapolis, IN)
44x Dean Franklin (Tulsa, OK)
45 Chris Coker (New Braunfels, TX)
51J R.J. Johnson (Phoenix, AZ)
51x Jon Stanbrough (Avon, IN)
67 Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, OK)
67x Britton Bock (Angwin, CA)
71b Jac Haudenschild (Wooster, OH)
73s Aaron Pierce (Daleville, IN)
76 Kellen Conover (Sumner, IL)
77h Mike Goodman (Broken Arrow, OK)
85j Matt Johnson (Edmond, OK)
86r Bill Rose (Plainfield, IN)
91k Kevin Bayer (Bixby, OK)
91T Bob Ream, Jr. (Glendale, AZ)
93 Dustin Morgan (Tulsa, OK)
93x Ronnie Gardner (Whittier, CA)
96 Cody Brewer (Choctaw, OK)
98 Chad Boat (Phoenix, AZ)
99 Kyle Rayburn (Pueblo, CO)
VIROC III Competitors (Vacuworx International Race of Champions):
1 Sammy Swindell (Germantown, TN)
1J J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)
4x Dave Darland (Lincoln, IN)
05 Brad Loyet (Sunset Hills, MO)
05g Damion Gardner (Concord, CA)
15h Scott Hatton (Roscoe, IL)
15m Jay Drake (Val Verde, CA)
21k Cory Kruseman (Ventura, CA)
24 Tracy Hines (Wilkinson, IN)
35 Johnny Heydenreich (Indianapolis, IN)
39 Kevin Swindell (Germantown, TN)
39c Bryan Clauson (Noblesville, IN)
39m Tim McCreadie (Watertown, NY)
47x Garrett Hansen (Manhattan Beach, CA)
71 Cole Whitt (Alpine, CA)
91x Jason Leffler (Long Beach, CA)
Tuesday Warren CAT Qualifier Fast Stats:
Scheduled Competitors: 67
States Represented: 18 – California 14, Oklahoma 13, Indiana 8, Missouri 6, Arizona 5, Illinois 4, Texas 3, Colorado 1, Georgia 1, Iowa 1, Kansas 1, Mississippi 1, Ohio 1, Pennsylvania 1, Tennessee 1, Utah 1, Washington 1, Wyoming 1.
Foreign Countries Represented: 1 – New Zealand
Past Saturday Feature Starters: 19 – Brad Kuhn (5), Jon Stanbrough (5), Joe Boyles (3), Rick Hendrix (3), Mike Hess (3), Bud Kaeding (3), Michael Pickens (2), Josh Wise (2), Brady Bacon (1), Chad Boat (1), Bryan Clauson (1), Brent Beauchamp (1), Dean Franklin (1), Mike Goodman (1), Jac Haudenschild (1), Kyle Larson (1), Tony Roney (1), Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (1), Paul White (1).
2010 Chili Bowl Championship Feature Starters: 7 – Mike Hess (7th), Kyle Larson (10th), Michael Pickens (11th), Brad Kuhn (12th), Brent Beauchamp (13th), Tony Roney (14th), Chad Boat (25th).
2011 Chili Bowl Rookies: 11 – Bill Stines, Orval Zane Burke, Jr., Dustin Arnall, Mario Clouser, Evan Margeson, Cory Mallo, Chris Gurley, Mike Daniels, Chad Shields, Cameron Hagin, Britton Bock.
Atop the Chili Bowl Seniority Charts: Jackie Burke (13 years), Dean Franklin (13), Joe Boyles (12), Rick Hendrix (12), Mike Hess (12), Nick O’Neal (12), Bud Kaeding (10).
Total Chili Bowl Experience (Combined Years among the 67 competitors); 270
Chili Bowl Experience per Tuesday Night Entry: 4.03 years
2010 Chili Bowl Preliminary Feature Starters: 19
Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is available at http://www.chilibowl.com/ or by calling 918-838-3777.