TULSA, Okla. (January 6, 2018) – With a top prize of $6,363.63 up for grabs, the 10th annual Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions (VIROC) will take place on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 as part of the opening night’s run of events at the 32nd Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire.
Comprised of drivers who have won the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, owner champions picks, reigning National Midget Driver of the Year, or past VIROC winners the list of drivers who made the cut for this year’s 20 lap showdown numbers 18.
Over the course of nine VIROC dashes, five drivers have topped the 20 lap event. Sammy Swindell has earned the most VIROC wins with five in 2009, 2011, 2012, and 2015. In 2017, Kyle Larson picked up his second triumph. Both will be on track in Tuesday’s showdown.
Making the VIROC a bit of a brotherly rivalry, Rusty and Keith Kunz will each be well represented with some of the event’s top talents behind the wheel. For Rusty, who earned his Golden Drillers as an owner in 2014, 1996, and 1994, the choice of driver goes to Thomas Meseraull who made his first VIROC appearance in 2017 with a fifth-place finish. For bother Keith, the total number of KKM drivers will number four. Including the aforementioned Kyle Larson, the rundown also includes 2016 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire winner, Rico Abreu as well as defending champion, Christopher Bell. With both drivers punching their ticket with their wins, the choice for Kunz as a six-time owner champion is Indiana’s Spencer Bayston, who will be making his first VIROC appearance.
Winning the VIROC in 2010, Brad Loyet will make his ninth appearance. Arizona’s Jerry Coons, Jr. will represent Wilke-Pak Motorsports. To date, Coons has been in five VIROC events with a best finish of fifth in 2013. With a pair of Golden Drillers in his collection, Cory Kruseman is in the mix along with Tracey Hines, who won in 2005 for Wilke-Pak.
Landing behind the wheel of the Kevin Swindell Motorsports No. 39, New Zealand’s Michal Pickens will make his first VIROC appearance.
Winning the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire in 2006, Late Model ace Tim McCreadie will again wheel for Andy Bondio with Andy’s owner champion status landing Danny Stratton in his third VIROC.
Using his 2016 VIROC win as his ticket to the show, Tanner Thorson also earned a seat at the table by winning the 2017 National Midget Driver of the Year. Driving for Dooling-Hayward Motorsports, the team will have their second car in action with Joe Dooling’s choice of Brad Sweet. Dooling, of course, was the co-owner during Bryan Clauson’s 2014 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire win.
Returning to Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire competition in 2018, Washington’s Kasey Kahne earns a spot with Zarounian credential. The driver known as “The Demon” will see his eighth VIROC appearance. Winning the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire in 2006, Damion’s best finish in the VIROC came in 2014 with a runner-up to Kyle Larson.
Rounding out the list is Chad Boat. The son of 1997 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, Billy Boat, the John Lawson name remains for the Boat family and will be cashed in for Chad’s admission to race.
The VIROC lineup will be set by draw following Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying Night Heat Races at the infield stage. The 10th edition of the VIROC will be run just prior to the evening’s B-Features. The complete list of drivers is as follows:
01 Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA)
1 Sammy Swindell (Germantown, TN)
1R Thomas Meseraull (San Jose, CA)
05 Brad Loyet (Sunset Hills, MO)
5 Jerry Coons, Jr. (Tucson, AZ)
21K Cory Kruseman (Ventura, CA)
24 Tracy Hines (Wilkinson, IN)
39 Michael Pickens (Auckland, NZ)
47 Danny Stratton (Riverside, CA)
47X Tim McCreadie (Watertown, NY)
63 Tanner Thorson (Minden, NV)
63D Brad Sweet (Grass Valley, CA)
67Z Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)
71G Damion Gardner (Concord, CA)
71W Christopher Bell (Norman, OK)
84X Chad Boat (Phoenix, AZ)
97 Rico Abreu (Rutherford, CA)
97K Spencer Bayston (Lebanon, IN)