Thorson Tickled Pink With Friday Victory at the Chili Bowl

Tanner Thorson being interviewed by Blake Anderson following his feature victory on Friday night at the Chili Bowl Nationals. (Serena Dalhamer photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

TULSA, OK (January 17, 2020) — Tanner Thorson won a thrilling preliminary featuring at the 34th annual Chili Bowl Nationals Friday during Vacuworx Global Qualifying/Turn the Bowl Pink Race for the Cause Night at the River Spirit Exposition Center. Thorson had to overcome a race for the lead that involved five or six cars at various times going back and forth until passing Ryan Bernal for the lead on lap 23. Thorson had to hold off challenges from Bernal and Chris Windom over the final five laps for the victory.

For Thorson the feature was a waiting game to see when the top of the racetrack would come in following a surface rework before the main event.

“I was kind of just poking around on the bottom just to not get drove by, and I ended up getting passed by Tucker (Klaasmeyer),” said Thorson of the early stages of the main event. “I just stayed in my rhythm there and the long run came in and Windom said he got up top too early. I knew the top was going to come in. I’m pretty speechless right now, we have a really fast hot rod.”

Thorson passed fellow west coast driver Ryan Bernal for the victory

“I passed (Bernal) up top, so the only way I really knew to go was to rip the top. I figured if he got in there, I could at least cross him over. The car was on rails.”

Windom led the opening circuit of the 30-lap main event with Ricky Stenhouse driving around Tucker Klaasmeyer for second. Following a caution for Josh Most slowing, Windom pulled away briefly until missing his line on lap six giving Stenhouse the lead.

Stenhouse continued to lead as Thorson drove up to second position and started putting pressure on Stenhouse for the top position after a caution for Steven Drevicki and Chris Andrews, but Stenhouse held on to the top spot.

The restart following a caution on lap 16 ended up being Stenhouse undoing bobbling on the cushion in turn four which opened the door for Thorson to take the lead.

Following a caution for Bill Balog slowing on the backstretch Stenhouse got into the wall on the restart and to bring out a second caution. Stenhouse ended up driving his car back to the pit area with too much damage to continue.

Windom moved up into second spot during the restart and immediately put pressure on Thorson for the lead. The top six cars ended up closing in on each other with Justin Allgaier, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Justin Grant, and Ryan Bermal joining the race for the lead with Windom and Thorson. After a wild exchange off turn four with this group of cars Bernal went from fifth to the lead. Just after Bernal crossed the finish line with the lead the caution appeared for Andrew Layser getting upside down.

Bernal continued to work the bottom of the track to hold the lead until Throson got a run through turns three and four, crossing lines with Bernal, and leading off turn two on lap 23.

This setup a three-car race for the lead between Thorson, Bernal, and Windom over the final five laps. Windom was able to get by Bernal for second momentarily, but a slower car erased Windom’s momentum and allowed Thorson and Bernal to pull away. Thorson ended up winning by a half a car length over Bernal and Windom. Klaasmeyer and Allgaier rounded out the top five.

After the main event Bernal was emotional knowing he had a guaranteed spot in the finale on Saturday.

“I really don’t know. I know it’s just a prelim, but it really means a lot. To race a couple of your best fields, there are three guys in this crew that are in my wedding next month,” said an emotional Bernal following his runner up finish. “It’s just a couple of buddies putting a team together. Matt Wood makes it possible for us. We were close, really close. We just came up a little short, but we locked into the big show. It feels really good.”

Thorson also praised Bernal on his exceptional run.

“I have mad respect for that kid,” Thorson said of Bernal. “I’ve raced a lot with him out of the west coast and we kind of grew up around the same people. We became pretty close, so it was pretty awesome to dice it out with him and Windom. You don’t get too many guys that will race you clean like that.”

Thorson from Minden, Nevada continued his remarkable story following a traffic accident that left him with serious injuries. After returning to victory lane in June Friday marked Thorson’s highest profile victory since the accident. Paired with Hayward Motorsports Thorson may have the best shot of his career to win a Golden Driller.

“This team is bad ass, I’m really excited to see what we can do”

34th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals
Vacuworx Global Qualifying Night
River Spirit Expo Center
Tulsa, OK
Friday January 17, 2020

Heat Race #1 (8 Laps)
1. 28-Ace McCarthy[2]
2. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[3]
3. 81-Colten Cottle[4]
4. 5O-Timmy Thrash[5]
5. 84Z-Johnny Murdock[1]
6. 19X-Don Droud Jr[6]
7. DNS: 17X-Kurt Stellhorn
8. DNS: 35-Ben Schmidt

Heat Race #2 (8 Laps)
1. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[3]
2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[4]
3. 8K-Josh Hawkins[1]
4. 72J-Sam Johnson[6]
5. 37X-Karter Sarff[7]
6. 10W-Marcus Thomas[8]
7. 42C-Chris Cochran[5]
8. 15L-Merril Lamb[2]

Heat Race #3 (8 Laps)
1. 7A-Justin Allgaier[3]
2. 95-Chris Andrews[1]
3. 19-Tanner Thorson[8]
4. 7-Shannon McQueen[4]
5. 29A-Tim Buckwalter[5]
6. 1NP-Terry Nichols[6]
7. 93Z-Zachary Patterson[2]
8. 21S-Russell Shoulders[7]

Heat Race #4 (8 Laps)
1. 14H-AJ Hopkins[2]
2. 21-Daryn Pittman[6]
3. 92-Josh Most[7]
4. 68W-Josh Lakatos[1]
5. 93-Dustin Morgan[5]
6. 88E-Tim Estenson[3]
7. 72C-Chris Tarrant[8]
8. 20-Tadd Holliman[4]

Heat Race #5 (8 Laps)
1. 89-Chris Windom[4]
2. 15J-David Prickett[1]
3. 37M-Matt Mitchell[3]
4. 88-Terry Babb[2]
5. 17R-Alex Schutte[5]
6. 11D-Colton Fisher[8]
7. 3F-Tim Barber[7]
8. 20G-Noah Gass[6]

Heat Race #6 (8 Laps)
1. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[7]
2. 87W-Ryan Bernal[8]
3. 10J-Jeffrey Newell[1]
4. 22B-Troy Betts[4]
5. 57-Maria Cofer[6]
6. 19U-Pierce Urbanosky[2]
7. 95T-Buddy Tubbs[5]
8. 911-Waylon Weaver[3]

Heat Race #7 (8 Laps)
1. 4A-Justin Grant[2]
2. 15-Donny Schatz[1]
3. 57A-Bill Balog[8]
4. 9K-Kevin Olson[3]
5. 78-Raven Culp[6]
6. 13A-Austin Yarbrough[5]
7. 20C-Conor Daly[7]
8. 27F-Jesse Frazier[4]

Heat Race #8 (8 Laps)
1. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[4]
2. 5K-Justin Peck[5]
3. 2R-Steven Drevicki[6]
4. 88W-Dustin Weland[2]
5. 08J-Jace McIntosh[1]
6. 52F-Logan Faucon[3]
7. 44D-Evan Turner[7]

Heat Race #9 (8 Laps)
1. 25P-Chad Boespflug[2]
2. 82-Andrew Layser[7]
3. 7M-Brody Roa[4]
4. 4C-Kyle Bellm[1]
5. 4R-Jared McIntyre[5]
6. C27-Clint Wilson[6]
7. 56X-Mark Chisholm[3]

C-Main #1 (12 Laps)
1. 93-Dustin Morgan[2]
2. 88E-Tim Estenson[7]
3. 35-Ben Schmidt[15]
4. 20C-Conor Daly[9]
5. 20-Tadd Holliman[13]
6. 13A-Austin Yarbrough[6]
7. 19U-Pierce Urbanosky[8]
8. 1NP-Terry Nichols[5]
9. 56X-Mark Chisholm[11]
10. 21S-Russell Shoulders[12]
11. 08J-Jace McIntosh[4]
12. 42C-Chris Cochran[10]
13. 4R-Jared McIntyre[3]
14. 911-Waylon Weaver[14]
15. 4C-Kyle Bellm[1]

C-Main #2 (12 Laps)
1. 17R-Alex Schutte[2]
2. 29A-Tim Buckwalter[1]
3. 19X-Don Droud Jr[3]
4. 52F-Logan Faucon[6]
5. 95T-Buddy Tubbs[9]
6. 72C-Chris Tarrant[5]
7. 27F-Jesse Frazier[11]
8. 93Z-Zachary Patterson[10]
9. 3F-Tim Barber[7]
10. 44D-Evan Turner[8]
11. C27-Clint Wilson[4]
12. 17X-Kurt Stellhorn[13]
13. 15L-Merril Lamb[12]
14. DNS: 84Z-Johnny Murdock
15. DNS: 20G-Noah Gass

Qualifier #1 (10 Laps)
1. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[2]
2. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[5]
3. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[6]
4. 28-Ace McCarthy[3]
5. 72J-Sam Johnson[7]
6. 15J-David Prickett[1]
7. 9K-Kevin Olson[9]
8. 88W-Dustin Weland[8]
9. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[4]
10. DNS: 10J-Jeffrey Newell

Qualifier #2 (10 Laps)
1. 15-Donny Schatz[1]
2. 21-Daryn Pittman[5]
3. 14H-AJ Hopkins[3]
4. 87W-Ryan Bernal[6]
5. 7A-Justin Allgaier[4]
6. 2R-Steven Drevicki[2]
7. 37X-Karter Sarff[8]
8. 57-Maria Cofer[9]
9. 37M-Matt Mitchell[7]
10. 10W-Marcus Thomas[10]

Qualifier #3 (10 Laps)
1. 4A-Justin Grant[3]
2. 19-Tanner Thorson[5]
3. 5K-Justin Peck[4]
4. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[2]
5. 82-Andrew Layser[6]
6. 7-Shannon McQueen[8]
7. 78-Raven Culp[9]
8. 11D-Colton Fisher[10]
9. 5O-Timmy Thrash[7]
10. 81-Colten Cottle[1]

Qualifier #4 (10 Laps)
1. 89-Chris Windom[6]
2. 7M-Brody Roa[1]
3. 57A-Bill Balog[5]
4. 95-Chris Andrews[2]
5. 92-Josh Most[4]
6. 25P-Chad Boespflug[3]
7. 8K-Josh Hawkins[7]
8. 88-Terry Babb[9]
9. 68W-Josh Lakatos[10]
10. 22B-Troy Betts[8]

B-Main #1 (15 Laps)
1. 72J-Sam Johnson[2]
2. 92-Josh Most[1]
3. 57-Maria Cofer[8]
4. 25P-Chad Boespflug[3]
5. 93-Dustin Morgan[13]
6. 37X-Karter Sarff[6]
7. 8K-Josh Hawkins[7]
8. 7-Shannon McQueen[4]
9. 88E-Tim Estenson[14]
10. 22B-Troy Betts[12]
11. 5O-Timmy Thrash[10]
12. 20C-Conor Daly[16]
13. (DNF) 88W-Dustin Weland[9]
14. (DNF) 35-Ben Schmidt[15]
15. DNS: 19M-Ethan Mitchell
16. DNS: 10J-Jeffrey Newell

B-Main #2 (15 Laps)
1. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[1]
2. 95-Chris Andrews[2]
3. 2R-Steven Drevicki[3]
4. 68W-Josh Lakatos[10]
5. 37M-Matt Mitchell[9]
6. 88-Terry Babb[8]
7. 17R-Alex Schutte[13]
8. 78-Raven Culp[6]
9. 15J-David Prickett[4]
10. 9K-Kevin Olson[5]
11. 52F-Logan Faucon[16]
12. 81-Colten Cottle[11]
13. 19X-Don Droud Jr[15]
14. 10W-Marcus Thomas[12]
15. 11D-Colton Fisher[7]
16. 29A-Tim Buckwalter[14]

A-Main (30 Laps)
1. 19-Tanner Thorson[5]
2. 87W-Ryan Bernal[7]
3. 89-Chris Windom[1]
4. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[2]
5. 7A-Justin Allgaier[16]
6. 4A-Justin Grant[6]
7. 21-Daryn Pittman[4]
8. 15-Donny Schatz[12]
9. 25P-Chad Boespflug[23]
10. 5K-Justin Peck[10]
11. 72J-Sam Johnson[17]
12. 95-Chris Andrews[20]
13. 28-Ace McCarthy[14]
14. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[8]
15. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[18]
16. 14H-AJ Hopkins[13]
17. 68W-Josh Lakatos[24]
18. 82-Andrew Layser[11]
19. 57-Maria Cofer[21]
20. 2R-Steven Drevicki[22]
21. 7M-Brody Roa[15]
22. 92-Josh Most[19]
23. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr[3]
24. 57A-Bill Balog[9]