ARDC Makes an Impact at This Year's Chili Bowl Tulsa, OK - January 9 - The 19th Annual O'Reilly's Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is now history. After a pressure-packed four days, where 258 participants attempted to crack the 24-car starting...
ARDC Makes an Impact at This Year's Chili Bowl
Tulsa, OK - January 9 - The 19th Annual O'Reilly's Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is now history. After a pressure-packed four days, where 258 participants attempted to crack the 24-car starting lineup and then win the coveted Golden Driller trophy, only Tracy Hines can smile as he gazes at his championship prize. For the 13 members of the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) who made the trek, well, they can smile with pride, too.
Those 13 drivers definitely made an impact, with five-time and defending club champion Ray Bull making the biggest splash. Bull, from Bloomsburg, PA, charged from his 13th starting spot in the 50-lap finale to end up fifth as the checkered flag waved.
Following is a summary of how the entire ARDC group fared in Tulsa:
1. Ray Bull, Bloomsburg, PA: Piloting one of three Mega Motorsports entries, Bull qualified on Thursday night. He finished third in his heat race, then lined up on the outside of Tony Stewart in row three for the A-main. Bull ended that race in the fifth spot; perhaps an omen of things to come for the former micro sprint driver.
Ray was lucky enough to start on the pole (by virtue of that fifth-place finish on Thursday) in the first B-main on Saturday evening. He led from start to finish, meaning he would start the Chili Bowl's A-main in the 13th spot.
Methodically weaving his way into the top ten, Bull stayed down low on the tight quarter-mile oval. He slipped into fifth on lap 23, and that's where he stayed until the black and white fabric put an end to the 50-lap frolic.
2. Frank Polimeda, Fort Lee, NJ: Making his first attempt in the indoor classic, Polimeda drew the second starting position for his heat race on Wednesday night. He finished as the runner-up in heat #11, but his lack of passing points relegated the versatile chauffeur to the second B-main. He wound up finishing fourth in that one, making him the final driver to qualify for the evening's A-main. He advanced 11 positions in the feature, winding up 13th.
Polimeda's qualifying point total was good enough to put him in 13th starting spot for Saturday's first B-main. He finished seventh, missing the cut for the big race by one position.
A bit disappointed, Polimeda still found a few positives from his Chili Bowl adventure. He termed it a "learning experience, and a whole lot of fun".
3. Steve Buckwalter, Royersford, PA: In his third Chili Bowl, the Royersford Rocket blasted to a heat race victory on Wednesday. Rolling off the grid in third spot for the evening's A-main, Buckwalter immediately went to the high side of the banked clay oval. He fell back to seventh as the top groove went away, and that's where he finished the 25-lapper.
That was good enough for a fourth-place starting spot in the second B-main on Saturday. Unfortunately, Buckwalter spun on the opening lap in turn two. He eventually fell out of the race, ending up in 16th. After making the Chili Bowl finale in 2004, the former Lanco micro sprint champion had to watch this one from the grandstand.
4. Tracy Miller, Reading, PA: She and her sister, Michele, became the first female competitors ever to make an A-main at the Chili Bowl by qualifying for their preliminary features on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Tracy started fourth and finished second in her heat race on Wednesday night. Starting 16th in the A-main, she was involved in a tangle with two other cars on lap seven. A flat tire and a bent shock ended her evening. She was credited with the 24th finishing position.
Miller came back on Saturday, looking to advance from the first C-main. Taking the green in 15th, Tracy had to pit under yellow for another flat tire on lap four. She persevered to finish ninth, but only the top five drivers moved on to the B-mains.
5.Michele Miller, Reading, PA: Starting fourth in heat race #4 on Thursday, Michele spun in turn four, but came roaring back to finish second in the ten-lap event. She transferred directly to the evening's A-main, where she finished 20th.
Saturday's second C-main found Michele being pushed off in eighth spot. She got turned around in corner number one on the first lap, then made her way back to 12th as the race, and her week at the Chili Bowl, ended.
6. Donnie Trent, Honeybrook, PA: Wheeling one of the Starrett entries from Virginia, Trent finished an impressive third in his heat on Thursday. He took the checkered in the first B-main in sixth place, but only the top four went on to the A-main.
Saturday found Trent starting fourth in the first D-main. Once again, Donnie finished sixth, with the first three drivers moving on to the pair of C-mains.
7. Johnny Heydenreich, Indianapolis, IN: The 1990 Chili Bowl winner was competing in one of the Miller Racing Team midgets, a Beast chassis with a Don Ott motor. Heydenreich battled Mike Hess to the wire in his heat race on Friday, finishing as a close runner-up to Hess. A lack of passing points put him in the second B-main, where he was forced to drop out because two cars spun right in front of him, collecting his no. 00. The damage was too great to be repaired before the green reappeared.
Heydenreich, a native of Bloomsburg, PA, had to race out of the second F-main on Saturday. He transferred to one of the E-mains by finishing third, but that's where his Chili Bowl ended with an 11th place run.
8. Bryan Kobylarz, Birdsboro, PA: The two-time ARDC champion scored a third place finish in heat #12 on Friday, placing himself in 12th starting spot in the first B-main. He wound up 13th with a DNF in that one.
Saturday's first F-main found Kobylarz starting third, but finishing 13th once again, failing to move on to the E's.
9. Carey Becker, Reading, PA: Strapping in to one of the Mega Motorsports cars for his first Chili Bowl, Becker finished seventh in his heat race on Friday night. He led all the way in the first D-main, then wound up fifth in the first of two C-mains. Only the top two advanced from the C's to the B's.
On Saturday, Becker started ninth in G-main number two and finished 13th. Not a bad effort for his initial try.
10. Marc Dailey, Brownsburg, IN: Steering one of the six Miller Racing Team cars, Dailey finished eighth in heat #1 on Thursday. He won the D-main that night, then placed 12th in the first C-main.
Dailey added another win by claiming the first I-main on Saturday. He lost a wheel and finished 15th in H-main #1.
11. Dave Shirk, Mohnton, PA: The 2004 ARDC Rookie of the Year, like Polimeda, said he learned a lot from his first Chili Bowl experience. And, repeating Polimeda again, Shirk had a great time at this year's indoor spectacular.
The former 600cc micro sprint jockey finished seventh in heat #12 on Wednesday. He improved by one spot in the D-main, missing the transfer by just two positions.
Shirk started fourth in the Chili Bowl's first-ever J-main on Saturday. Again, he ended up sixth, and only the top four moved on to the I-mains.
12. Mike Miller, Birdsboro, PA: In his first Chil Bowl attempt as a driver, Miller took his retro-style midget from third to first in heat race #11 on Friday. Just as he took the lead, however, the magneto failed, forcing him to retire. With the engine spitting and backfiring as he lined up for the first C-main, Miller headed to the pits, through for the evening.
Miller decided not to run on Saturday, as he was "too deep in the alphabet for anything good to happen."
13. Chris Morway, Hebron, CT: Morway's Challenger midget, powered by a Scat V4, started on the pole of heat race #8 on Friday. He finished sixth in that one as mechanical problems plagued the team. Morway was unable to start the second C-main.
The mechanical gremlins stayed with Morway, as he had to scratch from the second J-main on Saturday.