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Dark Horse to Dream Come True For Berryhill Wednesday Night at the Chili Bowl

By T.J. Buffenbarger

TULSA (January 11, 2016) — Travis Berryhill picked up the biggest victory of his career Wednesday night at the Chili Bowl Nationals picking the feature win on Hard Rock Casino Qualifying night. Berryhill raced back and forth with Kevin Bayer before pulling away during several late race restarts in the Manic Racing Fontana powered Stealth Chassis.

Berryhill had a good feeling as soon as he stepped for into the River Spirit Expo Center.

“From the time we got here this morning, even when I went to bed last night, I had a good feeling,” said Berryhill. “I think it goes back to practice when we missed the first practice set with mechanical issue that was minor, so we only got that last set (of hot laps). We unloaded the car and it went right to the top of the leader board. It felt great, it felt comfortable, it felt fast. That gave me a little bit of confidence coming into our prelim night. Even from last night from the time I woke up this morning it gave me a good feeling about today. I never really expected to be here. That’s always the goal, but I told everyone I ran across all day that asked I feel good. It might have helped me relax tonight.”

Felker and Blake Hahn on the front row with Felker taking the lead with Kevin Bayer sliding into second by Hahn. Further back Travis Berryhill quickly moved up from fifth starting spot to challenge Bayer for the second spot, taking the position on lap three. One lap later Berryhill got a run off turn four to take the lead.

The first caution during the feature came on lap six when A.J. Fike and Trey Marcham tangled in turn two.

Berryhill and Bayer continued their battle for the lead after the restart with Berryhill on the bottom and Bayer on the top of the race track. Colby Copeland made a big move on the restart sliding up into third. By lap 13 the lead trio of Berryhill, Bayer, and Copeland pulled away from the rest of the field

Second caution on lap 17 when Blake Hahn flipped in turn two. Daniel Adler spun in turn three in front of the leaders.

Berryhill, Bayer, Copeland the top three with Felker and Robinson behind them.

The restart turned into heartbreak for Felker when his car quit running as the field came to take the green. The remainder of the field avoided Felker’s stalled car.

Berryhill pulled away during the restart as Bayer and Copeland raced for second. Further back Jake Swanson joined to make it a three-car race for second. On lap 18 Copeland moved past Bayer for the second spot. One lap later while trying to hold the final transfer spot Bayer jumped the cushion in turn two and stalled the car, bringing out another caution flag.

Berryhill pulled away again on the restart as Swanson put pressure on Copeland for second with Gary Taylor charging into fourth with Ryan Robinson with him.

Up front though it was all Berryhill as he motored away from the field to pick up the victory. Swanson took the second spot while Copeland edged Taylor for the final transfer spot for Saturday’s feature. All three drivers will make their first start in the Chili Bowl main event on Saturday.

Tyler Thomas rounded out the top five.

For the second place driver Swanson finishing in the top three was just as improbable after encountering mechanical issues in his qualifying race and having to come through the B-Main.

“All the guys at Esslinger started working their tails off. They put sensors on (the engine) and a coil and we fired the thing off and that was it” said Swanson. “After that we had to come through the B. I just didn’t want to get caught up in anything, anyone else’s mistakes, it happens so much. Rico and Sammy, you can watch it again and again. Just tried to keep our nose clean, and we did it. Rolled second in the B. Starting 18th at first I just hoping at first I could get to a top 10. All of a sudden I was running sixth or seventh and we had a yellow that bunched us all up there, and really never left the bottom. The thing was hooked up. I got to Travis and I was about four car lengths from him, and we were about equal with each other. I was hoping for a restart to see if we could get racy, but I’m stoked. Second is awesome. I’m happy to be locked in the show.”

For Copeland locking into the A-Main for the first time was just as special.

“In the feature I tried beat into my head there to be patient,” said Copeland after bumping into a car that caused him to spin in the qualifying event. “When I found myself in second I wasn’t sure if I should go to the top, the bottom, race for the win, or protect to be safe after last year when I started deep and got up to third and screwed up trying to run the top. So I kept it on the bottom and (the car) got super free at the end, but we hung onto third and we’re locked into the show for Saturday.”

While this trio of newcomers to being locked into Saturday’s feature had outstanding nights two of the most decorated drivers in the history of the event had tough nights. Two time and defending Chili Bowl champion Rico Abreu got tangled up in incidents in his heat race and in the C-Main, ending his night abruptly. Sammy Swindell had to go through the C and B Mains to earn a spot in Wednesday night’s feature. Swindell finished seventh after staring 24th.

31st Annual Chili Bowl Nationals
River Spirit Exposition Center
Hard Rock Casino Qualifying Night
Tulsa, OK
Wednesday January 11, 2017

Heat Race #1 (8 Laps): 1. 91K – Kevin Bayer [2]; 2. 5C – Colten Cottle [8]; 3. 14R – Jody Rosenboom [6]; 4. 5F – Danny Frye III [1]; 5. 14 – Sean Watts [3]; 6. 57D – Daniel Robinson [7]; 7. 44D – Philip Dietz [4]; 8. (DNF) 21M – Michelle Melton [5]

Heat Race #2 (8 Laps): 1. 2A – Brent Beauchamp [4]; 2. 32T – Trey Marcham [1]; 3. 29S – Timmy Buckwalter [5]; 4. 7J – Shawn Jackson [3]; 5. 37B – Terry Babb [7]; 6. 14E – David McIntosh [2]; 7. 21H – Harlan Hulsey [6]; 8. 13SR – Marcus Thomas [8]

Heat Race #3 (8 Laps): 1. 31 – Travis Berryhill [3]; 2. 12 – Chris Sheil [1]; 3. 22 – Chase Jones [5]; 4. 99K – Korey Weyant [8]; 5. 59 – Austin Shores [2]; 6. 91 – Jeff Stasa [4]; 7. (DNF) 4M – J.J. Ercse [6]; 8. (DNF) 23A – Hannah Adair [7]

Heat Race #4 (8 Laps): 1. 3E – Geoff Ensign [1]; 2. 11D – Danny Faria Jr [3]; 3. 45W – Brandon Waelti [4]; 4. 8 – Alex Sewell [6]; 5. 97 – Rico Abreu [2]; 6. 99 – Colton Heath [5]; 7. 4 – Austin Nemire [8]; 8. 7F – Roy Larkin [7]

Heat Race #5 (8 Laps): 1. 52 – Blake Hahn [4]; 2. 51S – Danny Sheridan [3]; 3. 69 – A.J. Fike [6]; 4. 05T – Gary Taylor [8]; 5. 17D – Alex DeCamp [1]; 6. 9C – Cory Turner [7]; 7. 7G – Justin Gonzales [5]; 8. (DNF) 6S – Michael (Mike) Snider [2]

Heat Race #6 (8 Laps): 1. 68W – Jake Swanson [1]; 2. 15 – Donny Schatz [3]; 3. 47W – Dylan Westbrook [4]; 4. 9P – Parker Price – Miller [5]; 5. 1 – Sammy Swindell [6]; 6. 50T – Tony DiMattia [8]; 7. 88T – Tyler Nelson [7]; 8. (DNF) 43H – Reece Shelton [2]

Heat Race #7 (8 Laps): 1. 4P – Paul McMahan [5]; 2. 85 – Matt Johnson [1]; 3. 4D – Robert Dalby [4]; 4. 7X – John Ivy [2]; 5. 50 – Daniel Adler [8]; 6. 2K – Kyle Jones [6]; 7. 47JR – Ron Bach [3]; 8. (DNF) 28 – Kory Schudy [7]

Heat Race #8 (8 Laps): 1. 51X – Colby Copeland [3]; 2. 2X – Logan Seavey [2]; 3. 11A – Andrew Felker [7]; 4. 11XS – Donovan Peterson [1]; 5. 55D – Nick Drake [4]; 6. 11 – Katlynn Leer [5]; 7. 10K – Billy Lawless [6]; (DNS) 98J – Bill Jackson

Heat Race #9 (8 Laps): 1. 91T – Tyler Thomas [2]; 2. 32 – Casey Shuman [3]; 3. 25 – Chase Stockon [7]; 4. 27B – A.J. Burns [1]; 5. 12K – Zac Taylor [5]; 6. 926 – Morgan Frewaldt [4]; 7. 5W – Chris Windom [6]; (DNS) 14H – Harley Hollan

Heat Race #10 (8 Laps): 1. 71 – Ryan Robinson [7]; 2. 75 – Johnny Herrera [1]; 3. 5E – David Gravel [3]; 4. 33C – Carson McCarl [2]; 5. 77J – John Klabunde [4]; 6. A23 – Barrie Valentino [5]; 7. 35T – Tyler Robbins [6]; (DNS) 17C – Devin Camfield

Heat Race #11 (8 Laps): 1. 92 – Brenden Bright [3]; 2. 1T – Tony Roney [1]; 3. 73 – Jason McDougal [8]; 4. 8M – Kade Morton [5]; 5. 16C – David Camfield III [2]; 6. 7M – Kevin Ramey [7]; 7. 17Z – Zac Moody [4]; 8. 3B – Austin Blair [6]

D Feature #1 (10 Laps, Taking Top 2): 1. 10K – Billy Lawless [2]; 2. 28 – Kory Schudy [6]; 3. 35T – Tyler Robbins [3]; 4. 21M – Michelle Melton [7]; 5. 23A – Hannah Adair [5]; 6. 21H – Harlan Hulsey [1]; 7. 44D – Philip Dietz [4]; 8. 43H – Reece Shelton [8]; (DNS) 47JR – Ron Bach; (DNS) 98J – Bill Jackson

D Feature #2 (10 Laps, Taking Top 2): 1. 5W – Chris Windom [2]; 2. 4M – J.J. Ercse [1]; 3. 17Z – Zac Moody [4]; 4. 7F – Roy Larkin [6]; 5. 3B – Austin Blair [7]; 6. 13SR – Marcus Thomas [5]; 7. (DNF) 7G – Justin Gonzales [3]; (DNS) 6S – Michael (Mike) Snider; (DNS) 17C – Devin Camfield; (DNS) 14H – Harley Hollan

C Feature #1 (12 Laps, Taking Top 4): 1. 97-Rico Abreu[9]; 2. 17D-Alex DeCamp[10]; 3. 11XS-Donovan Peterson[4]; 4. 9C-Cory Turner[7]; 5. 12K-Zac Taylor[5]; 6. 14E-David McIntosh[14]; 7. 91-Jeff Stasa[13]; 8. 77J-John Klabunde[6]; 9. 7X-John Ivy[2]; 10. 10K-Billy Lawless[15]; 11. (DNF) 7J-Shawn Jackson[1]; 12. (DNF) A23-Barrie Valentino[12]; 13. (DNF) 50T-Tony DiMattia[3]; 14. (DNF) 14-Sean Watts[8]; 15. (DNF) 28-Kory Schudy[16]; 16. (DNF) 99-Colton Heath[11]

C Feature #2 (12 Laps, Taking Top 4): 1. 1 – Sammy Swindell [1]; 2. 55D – Nick Drake [5]; 3. 7M – Kevin Ramey [7]; 4. 5F – Danny Frye III [3]; 5. 57D – Daniel Robinson [6]; 6. 16C – David Camfield III [9]; 7. 11 – Katlynn Leer [11]; 8. 4M – J.J. Ercse [16]; 9. 59 – Austin Shores [8]; 10. 4 – Austin Nemire [12]; 11. 926 – Morgan Frewaldt [13]; 12. 33C – Carson McCarl [2]; 13. 5W – Chris Windom [15]; 14. 88T – Tyler Nelson [14]; 15. (DNF) 27B – A.J. Burns [4]; 16. (DNF) 2K – Kyle Jones [10]

C Feature #2 (12 Laps, Taking Top 4): 1. 1 – Sammy Swindell [1]; 2. 55D – Nick Drake [5]; 3. 7M – Kevin Ramey [7]; 4. 5F – Danny Frye III [3]; 5. 57D – Daniel Robinson [6]; 6. 16C – David Camfield III [9]; 7. 11 – Katlynn Leer [11]; 8. 4M – J.J. Ercse [16]; 9. 59 – Austin Shores [8]; 10. 4 – Austin Nemire [12]; 11. 926 – Morgan Frewaldt [13]; 12. 33C – Carson McCarl [2]; 13. 5W – Chris Windom [15]; 14. 88T – Tyler Nelson [14]; 15. (DNF) 27B – A.J. Burns [4]; 16. (DNF) 2K – Kyle Jones [10]

Qualifying Race #1 (10 Laps): 1. 51S – Danny Sheridan [1]; 2. 91T – Tyler Thomas [3]; 3. 52 – Blake Hahn [5]; 4. 92 – Brenden Bright [4]; 5. 71 – Ryan Robinson [6]; 6. 5E – David Gravel [10]; 7. 47W – Dylan Westbrook [9]; 8. (DNF) 68W – Jake Swanson [2]; 9. (DNF) 22 – Chase Jones [7]; 10. (DNF) 85 – Matt Johnson [8]

Qualifying Race #2 (10 Laps): 1. 11A – Andrew Felker [4]; 2. 15 – Donny Schatz [1]; 3. 9P – Parker Price – Miller [9]; 4. 99K – Korey Weyant [2]; 5. 5C – Colten Cottle [6]; 6. 2X – Logan Seavey [5]; 7. 75 – Johnny Herrera [8]; 8. 4D – Robert Dalby [7]; 9. 14R – Jody Rosenboom [3]; 10. 73 – Jason McDougal [10]

Qualifying Race #3 (10 Laps): 1. 05T – Gary Taylor [2]; 2. 32 – Casey Shuman [1]; 3. 31 – Travis Berryhill [5]; 4. 32T – Trey Marcham [7]; 5. 4P – Paul McMahan [6]; 6. 8 – Alex Sewell [9]; 7. 69 – A.J. Fike [3]; 8. 1T – Tony Roney [8]; 9. 8M – Kade Morton [10]; 10. (DNF) 25 – Chase Stockon [4]

B Feature #1 (15 Laps, Taking Top 4): 1. 5E – David Gravel [3]; 2. 92 – Brenden Bright [1]; 3. 69 – A.J. Fike [6]; 4. 50 – Daniel Adler [2]; 5. 45W – Brandon Waelti [4]; 6. 12 – Chris Sheil [8]; 7. 2X – Logan Seavey [5]; 8. 17D – Alex DeCamp [14]; 9. 25 – Chase Stockon [11]; 10. 97 – Rico Abreu [13]; 11. 14R – Jody Rosenboom [10]; 12. 85 – Matt Johnson [12]; 13. (DNF) 9C – Cory Turner [16]; 14. (DNF) 11XS – Donovan Peterson [15]; 15. (DNF) 1T – Tony Roney [7]; (DNS) 73 – Jason McDougal
B Feature #2 (15 Laps, Taking Top 4): 1. 68W – Jake Swanson [7]; 2. 32T – Trey Marcham [1]; 3. 47W – Dylan Westbrook [4]; 4. 1 – Sammy Swindell [13]; 5. 29S – Timmy Buckwalter [6]; 6. 75 – Johnny Herrera [5]; 7. 3E – Geoff Ensign [10]; 8. 37B – Terry Babb [12]; 9. 7M – Kevin Ramey [15]; 10. 55D – Nick Drake [14]; 11. 4D – Robert Dalby [8]; 12. 8M – Kade Morton [11]; 13. 99K – Korey Weyant [2]; 14. 22 – Chase Jones [9]; 15. (DNF) 8 – Alex Sewell [3]; 16. (DNF) 5F – Danny Frye III [16]

A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 31 – Travis Berryhill [5]; 2. 68W – Jake Swanson [18]; 3. 51X – Colby Copeland [6]; 4. 05T – Gary Taylor [7]; 5. 91T – Tyler Thomas [9]; 6. 71 – Ryan Robinson [4]; 7. 1 – Sammy Swindell [24]; 8. 15 – Donny Schatz [15]; 9. 32 – Casey Shuman [16]; 10. 2A – Brent Beauchamp [8]; 11. 9P – Parker Price – Miller [11]; 12. 47W – Dylan Westbrook [22]; 13. 4P – Paul McMahan [14]; 14. 5E – David Gravel [17]; 15. 92 – Brenden Bright [19]; 16. 51S – Danny Sheridan [13]; 17. 32T – Trey Marcham [20]; 18. 5C – Colten Cottle [12]; 19. 11D – Danny Faria Jr [10]; 20. 69 – A.J. Fike [21]; 21. 50 – Daniel Adler [23]; 22. 91K – Kevin Bayer [3]; 23. 52 – Blake Hahn [2]; 24. (DNF) 11A – Andrew Felker [1]