Chili Bowl entry update 2007-12-23

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Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals Entry Count -- 274 and Counting! TULSA, Okla. (December 23, 2007) -- As the days click off, winding down to the kick off of the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals, the entries continue to mount with the latest...

Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals Entry Count -- 274 and Counting!

TULSA, Okla. (December 23, 2007) -- As the days click off, winding down to the kick off of the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals, the entries continue to mount with the latest count at 274.

Two-time and defending Chili Bowl champion Tony Stewart, along with Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley and four-time race winner Sammy Swindell, will take on at least 270 others when the Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals unfolds atop the Tulsa Expo Raceway clay oval on January 8-12, 2008.

With 274 entries already received and more expected before the event fires off, last year's record count of 267 competitors is in jeopardy of falling, as the racing world's attention shifts to Tulsa, OK, and the newly renamed QuikTrip Center, formerly known as the Tulsa Expo Center.

22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals Pre-Entry Notes:

Past Winners: 2006 Chili Bowl champion Tim McCreadie's entry was filed over the past week, bringing the number of past Chili Bowl winners entered to six. Others include Tony Stewart, Sammy Swindell, Cory Kruseman, Tracy Hines and Johnny Heydenreich.

McCreadie, who became the first Chili Bowl winner to come from a background other than Sprint Car or Midget racing, will once again be teamed with Australian car owner Steve Smith. This time though, the DIRT Modified and Late Model ace that is a Richard Childress Racing development driver will be piloting a Triple-X chassis. It's the only Triple-X among the current entries.

States and Countries: The field for the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals is not only national, but international as well with drivers from 27 different states as well as Australia and Canada represented among the current 274 entries.

It will be mass migration from the left coast, as California leads the way with 60 entries. States represented among the current entries are as follows: Arkansas (3), Arizona (12), California (60), Colorado (8), Georgia (1), Illinois (30), Indiana (32), Iowa (3), Kansas (7), Mississippi (1), Missouri (16), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (4), New Jersey (3), New York (3), North Carolina (2), North Dakota (1), Ohio (7), Oklahoma (28), Pennsylvania (8), Tennessee (2), Texas (12), Virginia (2), Washington (3), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (9), Wyoming (1).

Teamed with Tim McCreadie aboard a second Steve Smith entry, DIRT Modified star Stewart Friesen of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario brings the number of Canadians entered to two, with Friesen joining fellow Ontario racer Glenn Styres. Mark Brown is the lone representative from Australia.

Eleven entries have drivers yet to be determined.

He's Back: After a long Chili Bowl absence, car owner Steve Lewis returns with Dave Darland piloting his Toyota-powered No. 9x entry. It is believed to be the first time for Lewis to field a Chili Bowl entry since 1999, when Jason Leffler finished 16th. Lewis competed in the inaugural edition of the Chili Bowl Nationals in 1987 as a driver.

He's Back II: Not donning a helmet since the end of the 1997 season, Ron Shuman has been named the driver of the A.J. Felker Racing No. 37T entry. Shuman was a prevalent force in the initial decade of Chili Bowl history, making the main event in nine out of nine attempts with seven top-ten finishes and a pair of runner-up showings.

Father-Son Combos: The addition of Ron Shuman brings the number of father-son combinations competing in the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals to three. Ron joins son Casey Shuman on the Felker team. Casey, who has made two of the last three Chili Bowl main events, competed against his father on a pair of occasions when he launched his career in 1997, with the more experienced Ron getting the better finish both times. Odds are on Casey beating his dad this time around.

Other father-son combinations include Swindell (Sammy and Kevin) and Sarna (John and C.J.). Young guns Brady Bacon and Chad Boat will do the Chili Bowl this year minus competition from their fathers. Last year, Leon Bacon and past race winner Billy Boat took on the kids.

Musical Chairs: Knoxville ASCS 360 Knoxville Nationals champion Shane Stewart was shuffled out of the Cruz Pedregon No. 175 entry at the beginning of the week for VRA shoe Brian Camarillo. By week's end, Stewart had landed in Jasiel Randolph's second entry.

The Smiths: In 21 previous editions of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, it's somewhat remarkable that only two drivers carrying the last name of "Smith" have competed in the Chili Bowl, including Mike Smith (2005) and Bobby Smith (2002 and 2003). That number will more than double with this year's entries from Nathan Smith, 15-year-old Austin Smith and ARDC Rookie of the Year Ryan Smith.

Power Teams: Teams with multiple entries is almost the norm rather than the exception, but nobody will outdo the Keith Kunz Motorsports camp that will field eight entries. Past ASCS National champion Travis Rilat of Forney, TX, was named the driver of the No. 67x Kunz entry late in the week, rounding out the stable that includes Bryan Clauson, Jason Leffler, Matt Sherrell, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Cole Whitt, Chris Windom and 15-year-old Caleb Armstrong.

Last year, Chili Bowl rookie Donnie Ray Crawford fared the best of the Kunz entries by racing to a fifth-place finish. Crawford is now teamed up with Gary Taylor and Sam Hafertepe, Jr., aboard a Tel-Star Communications entry fielded by Mike and Megan Eubanks, the same team that Brady Bacon has driven for in his previous three Chili Bowls. Bacon is now part of the Kasey Kahne Racing Team that also includes Kasey along with World of Outlaws runner-up Joey Saldana and California gasser Brad Sweet.

Since signing with Roush Fenway Racing, Stenhouse now finds himself aboard a Kunz entry rather than the Chevrolet-sponsored Tony Stewart Motorsports team. "Smoke" still fields a formidable team led by himself, with others including 2005 Chili Bowl champ Tracy Hines, who returns from injuries sustained in a dirt bike accident, 2007 USAC Sprint Car champion Levi Jones and 19-year-old Late Model ace Josh Richards.

Hines won his Chili Bowl driving for Wilke-PAK Motorsports. Wilke-PAK chases a second Golden Driller with 2007 USAC Midget king and National Midget Driver of the Year Jerry Coons, Jr., WoO shoe and six-time Knoxville Raceway champion Terry McCarl and Chili Bowl rookie Kurt Davis. The final Wilke-PAK entry has yet to be filled.

A new power team to be reckoned with will likely be the Loyet Motorsports entries, all numbered "05" or some variation thereof and wrenched by Rusty Kunz. Loyet entries include three-time Chili Bowl runner-up Danny Lasoski, 2007 National Non-Wing Sprint Car Driver of the Year Jon Stanbrough, P.J. Jones and 2007 POWRi Midget champ Brad Loyet, with one seat yet to be filled.

A.J. Felker Racing offers up a five-car team (Casey Shuman, Tyler Brown, Ron Shuman, Joe Walker and Colby Copeland), Lehmann Racing brings five (Donnie Lehmann, Lee Grosz, Joe Duvall, Daniel Adler and one TBA), Cruz Pedregon enters four (Sammy Swindell, Josh Wise, Cruz Pedregon and Brian Camarillo) and Scooter Ellis also brings four (Garry Lee Maier, Andrew Felker, Brian Portschy and Blake Fitzpatrick).

Two and three-car teams abound, with Andy Bondio's potent duo of J.J. Yeley and Cory Kruseman perhaps the most notable.

Chili Bowl Originals: Fifty-two drivers took part in the first Chili Bowl Nationals in 1987. Five of the drivers among this year's 274 entries can tell plenty of stories about the evolution of this stellar event, as they were racing in the first one. Those five include four-time winner Sammy Swindell, 1990 winner Johnny Heydenreich, Ron Shuman, Shane Carson and Steve Newman.

Champions: The talent pool at the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals is indeed a deep one, with at least 30 drivers earning a series or track championship during the 2007 season. And that list of '07 champions doesn't even include names like Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, J.J. Yeley, Sammy Swindell, Cory Kruseman, etc.

Eleven midget champions from 2007 that have entered the Chili Bowl include Jerry Coons, Jr. (USAC and National Midget Driver of the Year), David Gough (UMARA), 16-year-old Justin Grant (BCRA), Nathan High (AMRA), Brad Kuhn (BMARA), Brad Loyet (POWRi), Andy Martin (ARDC), Doug McCune (SSMA), Johnny Rodriguez (USAC Western States), Chris Sheil (RMMRA) and Gary Taylor (SMRS).

Eight winged Sprint Car champs are ready for the Chili Bowl, including Lee Grosz (ASCS Northern Plains), Mike Goodman (OCRS), Garry Lee Maier (NCRA), Joey Montgomery (St. Francois County Raceway), Shane Stewart (All-Star Speedweek and NSCS Speedweek), Glenn Styres (SOS), George White (Cowtown Speedway) and Gary Wright (ASCS National and National Driver of the Year).

Six wingless Sprint Car champs are entered, including 19-year-old Jeff Bland, Jr. (Bloomington Speedway and National Rookie of the Year), Shane Cottle (Kokomo Speedway), Jesse Hockett (Sprint Bandits TNT), Levi Jones (USAC), Ryan Kaplan (USAC Western States) and Jon Stanbrough (KISS and National Non-Wing Driver of the Year).

Bud Kaeding won the USAC Silver Crown championship.

Other 2007 champions include Stewart Friesen (DIRT Modifieds at New York's Utica Rome Speedway), Brent Rees (Rocky Mountain Mini Sprint Association), Austin Mero (Ventura Raceway Junior Ford Focus Midgets) and Andrew Deal (non-wing Micros at Will Rogers Raceway).

Ladies: With Springfield, Nebraska's Trish Dover named to drive the Lance Pierovich No. 6p machine, there are now seven ladies represented among the field of 274 entries. Dover joins California girls Shannon McQueen and Randi Pankratz, Oklahoma's Michelle Decker, Pennsylvania sisters Michele and Tracy Miller, and Washington's Samantha Taylor.

Feature Starters: Sixty-one of the entered drivers have started at least one Chili Bowl championship main event in the past. Tops on the list is four-time Chili Bowl kingpin Sammy Swindell with 15 main event starts, followed by Danny Lasoski (14), Kevin Olson (10) and Tony Stewart, Tracy Hines, Jason Leffler, Dave Darland and Ron Shuman (each with 9).

Rookies: Sixty of the currently entered drivers are embarking upon their first Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

What: 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals

Where: Tulsa Expo Raceway -- 1/4-mile clay oval inside the QuikTrip Center (formerly known as Tulsa Exposition Center) at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds

When:
January 8-12, 2008
Tuesday -- Pre-Qualifying Night
Wednesday - Creek Nation Casino Qualifying Night
Thursday -- Warren CAT Qualifying Night
Friday -- O'Reilly Qualifying Night
Saturday -- Bass Pro Shops Championship Saturday Feature Events

-credit: cbn/lw

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