T.J.’s Takeaways from Thursday at the Chili Bowl Nationals

Christopher Bell (Serena Dalhamer photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

(January 16, 2020) — After a very long day at my regular job and dashing home to catch the end of the Chili Bowl Nationals preliminary program on Thursday here are a handful of very quick takeaways:

• I shouldn’t be surprised anymore at how talented and smooth Christopher Bell is on the racetrack. Every time I see a performance like we witnessed on Thursday it still has a new feeling because Bell just continues to get better.

With two very special talents in Kyle Larson and Bell coming onto the scene within a couple of years of each other its interesting how talented and successful both drivers are, yet have very different driving styles.

Both drivers are carrying a lot of momentum going into Saturday with Bell going for his fourth straight golden driller and Larson riding a streak winning eight of his nine starts in his own midget car since last season.

Saturday could be a showdown for the ages between two generationally talented race car drivers.

• Buddy Kofoid had a strong showing in his first Chili Bowl Nationals outing with a strong third place finish. Kofoid did not let the big stage intimidate him as he was solid from hot laps to feature time. Bell remarked in victory lane that he knows Kofoid will not be as easy to pass next year. Tracking Kofoid’s progress will be one of the top storylines of the 2020 season.

• Being locked into Saturday’s finale can Thomas Meseraull possibly upset the Bell/Larson apple cart on Saturday? With 55-laps and the craziness of racing in traffic at the Tulsa Expo Center anything is possible. This would appear to be one of Meseraull’s best chances at a Golden Diller driving for a topflight team in RMS racing. Its good to see the Estep family with such a strong effort for a family that has been involved in midget racing for a long time and now fielding such top flight team the past several years.

• With all the crazy and questionable slide jobs Thursday night seems like an odd time to start penalizing rough driving. Spencer Bayston ended up with a rough driving penalty during preliminary action on Thursday for what appeared to be far less egregious than a lot of the other action seen during the week in Tulsa. I still believe a two-spin rule of some variety would cut down on some of the rough driving at times. Now as long as the car rolls there is little to no consequence to throwing a hay-maker slide job other than having to start at the tail of the field.