Larson Uses Traffic to his Advantage to Win Tuesday’s Chili Bowl Preliminary Feature

Kyle Larson with his son Owen in victory lane Tuesday during the Chili Bowl Nationals. (Serena Dalhamer photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

TULSA, OK (January 14, 2020) — With chaos taking place behind him Kyle Larson drove a clean race in route to winning the Warren CAT Qualifying Night preliminary night main event Tuesday during the 34th annual Chili Bowl Nationals. After waiting through multiple caution flags during the first 20 laps of the feature, Larson from Elk Grove, California had pressure late in the race from Jonathan Beason, but used slower traffic to his advantage to pull away over the final five laps for the victory.

For Larson the win came after what he considered an unfavorable draw before the night began.

“I was a little nervous after drawing such an early pill and starting on the pole of a heat race,” said Larson in victory lane. “We were able to not have as much passing in the qualifiers and it lined me up on the front row. We were able to get the jump at the start. I felt like I mostly made good decisions. I got kind of sloppy on one restart, but for the most part I felt like my car was good and we ran some fast laps.”

When the green flag came out Larson pulled away from Beason during a short-lived period of green flag racing when Jeremy Webb, who was running sixth, bounced to a stop. In a separate incident Frankie Guerrini, Kyle Jones, former Chili Bowl winner Damion Gardner got tangled up in an incident. Gardner was unable to make the restart. During the caution period Roger Crockett went to the work area to change a tire before joining the tail of the field.

Larson pulls away as Hess looks under Beason in turn one but could not make the pass. Behind Larson T.J. Smith slides Hess in three and four to take third, but Hess countered on the other end of the track to take the position back. Smith dropped back to a pack of cars racing for fifth on lap five on back when the caution appeared for Hunter Schuerenberg spinning between turns three and four and collecting Webb. Both drivers were able to restart.

Larson, Beason, and Hess puled away while the race for fourth on back heated up while Smith was starting to get pressure from Wight and Faccinto. Just as Wight setup a pass the caution appeared again on lap nine for a tangle with Schuerenberg and 2019 Oswego Classic winner Tyler Thompson between turns one and two.

Another short green flag run saw Larson, Beason, and Hess pull away before the caution appeared with 11 laps in for Thompson and Gurini stopped in turn four.

Larson pulls away as Hess tried to slide Beason but could not make the pass. Further back in the field Ze Wise starting making his presence felt at the front of the field moving by Larry Wight to take away fifth spot. Just as Wise made the pass his left rear tire went down and eventually came to a stop in turn four to bring out the caution.

Two more cautions appeared for Schurenberg and Thompson stopping on track before action continued. Under caution Hess came top a stop in turn four and retired to the infield.

Just past halfway Beason started to put pressure on Larson for the lead. Behind the lead duo Smith and Wight were racing for third. Wight was able to move past Smith on lap 16, but Larson and Beason had built up a 1.5 second lead. Behind Wight, Jake Bubak rallied from having to run the B-Main to move into fourth around Smith.

On lap 20 Larson started to encounter heavy traffic with Beason on his back bumper. Larson was able to clear the traffic quickly as Beason was mired in the slower cars to open his advantage as the caution flag came out for Bubak getting upside down while making a pass on Wight with Nick Drake piling in.

Larson pulled away as Weight and Beason exchanged the second spot back and forth before Wight dropped back into a race with Michael Faccinto, Dillon Welch, and Smith for fourth.

Up front it was all Larson picking up the feature win and locking himself into Saturday’s main event along with Beason. Faccinto, Welch, and Wight rounded out the top five.

Christopher Bell won the VIROC Race of Champions quickly charging up from seventh starting spot. Rico Abreu, Sam Hafertepe Jr, Larson, and C.J. Leary rounded out the top five.

34th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals
Warren CAT Qualifying Night
River Spirit Expo Center
Tulsa, OK
Tuesday January 14, 2020

Heat Race #1 (8 Laps)
1. 08-Michael Faccinto[1]
2. 5R-Roger Crockett[6]
3. 07W-Mitchel Moles[2]
4. 45H-Anthony Pope[4]
5. 2B-Tyler Hewitt[3]
6. 51-Curtis Jones[9]
7. 0G-Gunner Ramey[7]
8. 5B-Bobby Brewer[5]
9. 11T-Larry Petersen[8]

Heat Race #2 (8 Laps)
1. 01-Kyle Larson[1]
2. Q32-Peter Paulson[2]
3. 84M-Alex DeCamp[8]
4. 21M-Michelle Parson[7]
5. 11C-Michael Woodruf[3]
6. 71X-Presley Truedson[9]
7. 2A-Matt Linder[5]
8. 8X-Austin Shores[6]

Heat Race #3 (8 Laps)
1. 8J-Jonathan Beason[3]
2. 15W-Jeff Wimmenauer[2]
3. 55D-Nick Drake[9]
4. 14F-Cameron Hagin[7]
5. 31K-Kyle Beilman[6]
6. 74M-Adam Pierson[8]
7. 28Q-Sean Quinn[1]
8. 46-Kenney Johnson[5]
9. 22L-Lucas Scherb[4]

Heat Race #4 (8 Laps)
1. 42-Hank Davis[4]
2. 71-Zeb Wise[6]
3. 99P-Brandon Long[2]
4. 91A-Chris Andrews[5]
5. 87X-Nick O’Dell[3]
6. 118-Scott Evans[7]
7. 21H-Ty Hulsey[8]
8. 20H-Noah Harris[9]
9. 23P-Brad Wyatt[1]

Heat Race #5 (8 Laps)
1. 19A-Hunter Schuerenberg[3]
2. 71G-Damion Gardner[5]
3. 55X-Alex Bowman[4]
4. 71T-Zac Taylor[2]
5. 9U-Doug McCune[7]
6. 7W-Brendon Wiseley[8]
7. 17L-Rocky Silva[1]
8. 23X-Travis Scott[6]
DNS: 98-Ryan Padgett

Heat Race #6 (8 Laps)
1. 99-Larry Wight[1]
2. 47-Alex Bright[2]
3. 27B-Jake Bubak[8]
4. 21F-Austin Langenstein[6]
5. 5J-Jeff Crook[3]
6. 45K-Kyle Hammer[5]
7. 7K-Kaylee Bryson[4]
8. 1J-James Reed[7]

Heat Race #7 (8 Laps)
1. 51H-Mike Hess[1]
2. 35C-Tanner Carrick[3]
3. 17C-Jeremy Webb[8]
4. 47M-Frankie Guerrini[7]
5. 2BX-Brett Becker[5]
6. 26-George Willard Jr[2]
7. 00-Rob Yetman[4]
8. 17A-Austin Brown[6]

Heat Race #8 (8 Laps)
1. 29-Tyler Thompson[6]
2. 73B-Tyler Edwards[8]
3. 9JR-Derek Hagar[5]
4. 1K-Brayton Lynch[1]
5. 2W-Wyatt Burks[3]
6. 14R-Jake Nail[4]
7. 73G-Avery Goodman[2]
8. 75-Bryan Stanfill[7]

Heat Race #9 (8 Laps)
1. 11S-TJ Smith[1]
2. 11K-Gage Rucker[3]
3. 97W-Kaidon Brown[2]
4. 81X-Dillon Welch[7]
5. 7U-Kyle Jones[5]
6. F5-Ray Allen Kulhanek[8]
7. 17F-Devin Camfield[6]
8. 44S-Brandon Akau[4]

D-Main #1 (10 Laps)
1. 46-Kenney Johnson[6]
2. 23X-Travis Scott[4]
3. 00-Rob Yetman[1]
4. 22L-Lucas Scherb[8]
5. 11T-Larry Petersen[7]
6. 1J-James Reed[2]
7. 28Q-Sean Quinn[3]
8. 5B-Bobby Brewer[5]
9. DNS: 98-Ryan Padgett

D-Main #2 (10 Laps)
1. 17A-Austin Brown[2]
2. 8X-Austin Shores[6]
3. 17L-Rocky Silva[3]
4. 2A-Matt Linder[5]
5. 44S-Brandon Akau[4]
6. 73G-Avery Goodman[1]
7. DNS: 75-Bryan Stanfill
8. DNS: 23P-Brad Wyatt

C-Main #1 (12 Laps)
1. 45K-Kyle Hammer[6]
2. 118-Scott Evans[1]
3. 2BX-Brett Becker[2]
4. 11C-Michael Woodruf[4]
5. 22L-Lucas Scherb[13]
6. 23X-Travis Scott[12]
7. 26-George Willard Jr[8]
8. 17J-Jeremy Dockery[10]
9. 17F-Devin Camfield[7]
10. 46-Kenney Johnson[9]
11. 5J-Jeff Crook[3]
12. 00-Rob Yetman[11]
13. 14R-Jake Nail[5]
14. DNS: 1K-Brayton Lynch

C-Main #2 (12 Laps)
1. 2W-Wyatt Burks[5]
2. 7U-Kyle Jones[2]
3. 2B-Tyler Hewitt[3]
4. 51-Curtis Jones[7]
5. 20H-Noah Harris[9]
6. 7K-Kaylee Bryson[10]
7. 17A-Austin Brown[11]
8. 0G-Gunner Ramey[8]
9. 21H-Ty Hulsey[6]
10. 17L-Rocky Silva[13]
11. 87X-Nick O’Dell[4]
12. 9U-Doug McCune[1]
13. 8X-Austin Shores[12]
14. 2A-Matt Linder[14]

Qualifier 1 (10 Laps)
1. 11S-TJ Smith[2]
2. 08-Michael Faccinto[3]
3. 17C-Jeremy Webb[4]
4. 5R-Roger Crockett[5]
5. 21M-Michelle Parson[1]
6. 29-Tyler Thompson[6]
7. 71T-Zac Taylor[10]
8. 21F-Austin Langenstein[8]
9. 91A-Chris Andrews[9]
10. Q32-Peter Paulson[7]

Qualifier 2 (10 Laps)
1. 01-Kyle Larson[3]
2. 8J-Jonathan Beason[4]
3. 35C-Tanner Carrick[2]
4. 71-Zeb Wise[5]
5. 07W-Mitchel Moles[8]
6. 73B-Tyler Edwards[6]
7. 14F-Cameron Hagin[1]
8. 71X-Presley Truedson[9]
9. 15W-Jeff Wimmenauer[7]
10. 74M-Adam Pierson[10]

Qualifier 3 (10 Laps)
1. 99-Larry Wight[3]
2. 47M-Frankie Guerrini[1]
3. 19A-Hunter Schuerenberg[4]
4. 47-Alex Bright[7]
5. 55D-Nick Drake[6]
6. 84M-Alex DeCamp[5]
7. 99P-Brandon Long[8]
8. 7W-Brendon Wiseley[10]
9. 11K-Gage Rucker[2]
10. 45H-Anthony Pope[9]

Qualifier 4 (10 Laps)
1. 51H-Mike Hess[3]
2. 81X-Dillon Welch[1]
3. 9JR-Derek Hagar[2]
4. 97W-Kaidon Brown[8]
5. 27B-Jake Bubak[5]
6. 71G-Damion Gardner[4]
7. 42-Hank Davis[6]
8. 55X-Alex Bowman[7]
9. 31K-Kyle Beilman[9]
10. F5-Ray Allen Kulhanek[10]

B-Main #1 (15 Laps)
1. 27B-Jake Bubak[1]
2. 55X-Alex Bowman[7]
3. 9JR-Derek Hagar[2]
4. 97W-Kaidon Brown[3]
5. 74M-Adam Pierson[10]
6. 91A-Chris Andrews[8]
7. 21M-Michelle Parson[5]
8. 45K-Kyle Hammer[13]
9. 15W-Jeff Wimmenauer[9]
10. 2BX-Brett Becker[15]
11. 99P-Brandon Long[4]
12. 118-Scott Evans[12]
13. 31K-Kyle Beilman[11]
14. 71X-Presley Truedson[6]
15. 11C-Michael Woodruf[14]
16. DNS: 42-Hank Davis

B-Main #2 (15 Laps)
1. 07W-Mitchel Moles[3]
2. 71G-Damion Gardner[4]
3. 2W-Wyatt Burks[13]
4. 84M-Alex DeCamp[2]
5. 14F-Cameron Hagin[6]
6. 7U-Kyle Jones[12]
7. 2B-Tyler Hewitt[15]
8. Q32-Peter Paulson[10]
9. 51-Curtis Jones[14]
10. 45H-Anthony Pope[11]
11. 71T-Zac Taylor[5]
12. 21F-Austin Langenstein[7]
13. 7W-Brendon Wiseley[8]
14. 11K-Gage Rucker[9]
15. 35C-Tanner Carrick[1]
DNS: F5-Ray Allen Kulhanek

A-Main (30 Laps)
1. 01-Kyle Larson[2]
2. 8J-Jonathan Beason[1]
3. 08-Michael Faccinto[8]
4. 81X-Dillon Welch[16]
5. 99-Larry Wight[3]
6. 11S-TJ Smith[5]
7. 07W-Mitchel Moles[18]
8. 9JR-Derek Hagar[21]
9. 97W-Kaidon Brown[23]
10. 55X-Alex Bowman[19]
11. 5R-Roger Crockett[9]
12. 47M-Frankie Guerrini[15]
13. 73B-Tyler Edwards[13]
14. 47-Alex Bright[14]
15. 17C-Jeremy Webb[6]
16. 19A-Hunter Schuerenberg[7]
17. 2W-Wyatt Burks[22]
18. 84M-Alex DeCamp[24]
19. 27B-Jake Bubak[17]
20. 55D-Nick Drake[11]
21. 51H-Mike Hess[4]
22. 29-Tyler Thompson[12]
23. 71-Zeb Wise[10]
24. 71G-Damion Gardner[20]

VIROC (20 Laps)
1. 84X-Christopher Bell[7]
2. 97-Rico Abreu[14]
3. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[1]
4. 01-Kyle Larson[8]
5. 55V-CJ Leary[3]
6. 7C-Tyler Courtney[5]
7. 4A-Justin Grant[2]
8. 19-Tanner Thorson[9]
9. 21-Daryn Pittman[10]
10. 5D-Zach Daum[11]
11. 19B-Spencer Bayston[16]
12. 39-Logan Seavey[12]
13. 87-Aaron Reutzel[13]
14. 1R-Brad Sweet[6]
15. 1-Sammy Swindell[15]
16. 14-Jesse Colwell[17]
17. 71G-Damion Gardner[4]