Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Time is Here!
TULSA, Okla. (January 11, 2010) -- After a Monday highlighted by visits from dignitaries and a full practice session, the 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals fires to life on Tuesday at the QuikTrip Center's Tulsa Expo Raceway.
Tuesday's Warren CAT Qualifier and Vacuworx Race of Champions marks the first of four nights of qualifying competition that will ultimately set the lineups for Saturday's Rockstar Energy Drink slate of championship feature events.
As Monday's practice session for the 265 entries from 28 different states as well as Australia, New Zealand and Canada got under way at 10:00 a.m., a group of dignitaries including the likes of Congressman John Sullivan, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and County Commissioners Fred Perry and John Smaligo were led on a tour of the facility by event co-promoter Emmett Hahn.
With a healthy contingent of local media on hand, Sullivan and Bartlett noted the significant economic impact of the Chili Bowl Nationals to the City of Tulsa, with the event estimated to generate $15 million in direct spending.
Mayor Bartlett commented that, "Fifteen million is huge with the budget issues the City of Tulsa has. When you think in terms of sales tax, that's several hundred thousand dollars straight to the bottom line. This event contributes to the City of Tulsa and its well being."
An attendee of the Chili Bowl over the last several years, Congressman Sullivan explained that, "This is a great, great event. It's an event that isn't asking for much from the City, just some appreciation."
Brady Bacon, Michelle Decker and Shannon McQueen were among the drivers on hand to field questions from the media before shaking out their weekend rides.
Once again, the Chili Bowl Nationals has drawn competitors from all strata, with Hahn commenting that, "We've got some car owners out there that are probably multi-millionaires parked next to some car owners that may be on welfare. But when they're out there, they're all the same; we've sent Kasey Kahne up the ramp before when he tried to sneak in an extra practice session."
Unofficially among the quickest in the day's practice was California native Cole Whitt, who ranks as the youngest champion in USAC history after taking the 2008 Midget crown at the age of 17. Whitt is among a five-car Keith Kunz Motorsports stable that also includes Jon Stanbrough and Henry Clarke, with two other seats potentially open.
Others stopping the clocks in impressive fashion included five-time and defending Chili Bowl champion Sammy Swindell, who vies to become the first back-to-back winner in event history, and New Zealand's Michael Pickens in the stateside debut of the Aggressor V8 powerplant.
There were only a pair of cars getting upside down in the day's 52 hot lap sessions, with Kellen Conover climbing the backstretch wall and then flipping in turn three and then Ryan Cole turning over in turn two.
Pickens is part of a stout Tuesday night Warren CAT Qualifier that also includes hometown favorites Brady Bacon, Matt Sherrell and Dustin Morgan along with perennial Chili Bowl contender Dave Darland, Indiana's Jon Stanbrough, Missouri's Danny Lasoski and California's Tyler Walker among others.
With 66 of the 265 entries slated for Tuesday night, another 16 drivers will take part in the Vacuworx Race of Champions including past winners Sammy Swindell, Cory Kruseman, Damion Gardner, Tim McCreadie, Tracy Hines, Jay Drake, Jon Heydenreich and Scott Hatton along with NASCAR stars Kasey Kahne and Jason Leffler, National Midget Driver of the Year Bryan Clauson, USAC Midget champion Brad Kuhn, Gary Taylor, Brad Loyet, Garrett Hansen and Cole Whitt.
A limited number of tickets remain for Tuesday night's action, which goes green at 6:00 p.m. Tickets are available for $27 at the gate or by calling 918-838-3777.
Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Quick Facts:
What: 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals
Where: Tulsa Expo Raceway -- 0x00bc-mile clay oval inside the QuikTrip Center at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds
When:January 12-16, 2010
Tuesday -- Warren CAT Qualifying Night plus Vacuworx Chili Bowl Race of Champions
Wednesday -- River Spirit Casino Qualifying Night
Thursday -- Bully Dog Qualifying Night
Friday -- E3 Spark Plugs Qualifying Night
Saturday -- Rockstar Energy Drink Championship Feature Events
Past Winners: Sammy Swindell (2009, 1998, 1996, 1992 and 1989), Damion Gardner (2008), Tony Stewart (2007 and 2002), Tim McCreadie (2006), Tracy Hines (2005), Cory Kruseman (2004 and 2000), Dan Boorse (2003 and 1999), Jay Drake (2001), Billy Boat (1997), Donnie Beechler (1995), Andy Hillenburg (1994), Dave Blaney (1993), Lealand McSpadden (1991), Jon Heydenreich (1990), Scott Hatton (1988), Rich Vogler (1987).
Trade Show: Always a popular attraction at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is the Trade Show, which is open to the public each day (Tuesday through Saturday) free of charge. All variety of racing products, apparel and more is available with well over 100 different vendors. The Trade Show covers approximately 20,000 square feet.
Tickets: Four-night tickets for Wednesday through Saturday of the 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals were depleted by the end of May. A limited number of reserved seats for Tuesday night's Warren CAT Qualifying Event and the Second Annual Vacuworx International Chili Bowl Race of Champions are available for $26 per person and may be obtained by calling 918-838-3777 or at the gate. Pit passes for all five nights are available at the gate as well.
Chili Bowl on TV: Portions of the 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals will be broadcast on SPEED TV on a tape-delayed basis.
Chili Bowl on the Net: All official news pertaining to the 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, including official entry lists, race results and recaps, is available first at www.chilibowl.com. Also, all five nights of the Chili Bowl Nationals will be broadcast live (audio) on www.racinboys.com.
Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is available at www.chilibowl.com/ or by calling 918-838-3777.