Team Mopar looks to stir up Chili Bowl competition. As racing stars from all over the country converge in the nation's heartland for the 18th annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, Team Mopar's strong presence at the event is sure to spice...
Team Mopar looks to stir up Chili Bowl competition.
As racing stars from all over the country converge in the nation's heartland for the 18th annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, Team Mopar's strong presence at the event is sure to spice up the competition. Set for Tulsa, Okla., January 7-10, the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals boasts more than 215 entries for the 2004 event. Of the record-breaking entry list, 18 machines will fire under Mopar power. Coming off an epic 2003 racing season, it's no wonder that Mopar brand power is in high demand for open-wheel racing competition.
NASCAR standout and Team Mopar owner Tony Stewart will headline the brand's Chili Bowl effort, as he is scheduled to compete in the No. 71 Keith Kunz Motorsports entry clad with the distinctive Mopar barbed wire paint scheme. Stewart will have his work cut out for him, however, as he attempts to capture his second Chili Bowl title. Tracy Hines looks for his first event win in his No. 11 Wilke-Pak Motorsports Mopar machine. Cory Kruseman, Josh Wise and Jay Drake are also scheduled to compete during the four-day event, stirring the proverbial "pot" of Chili Bowl odds.
Team Mopar's Danny "The Dude" Lasoski will also be back in action, as he will be seeking his twelfth A-main start. Lasoski is second only to Sammy Swindell and Kevin Doty in Chili Bowl feature event starts. Lasoski finished second in the O'Reilly World of Outlaw Series Championship in 2003, and a Chili Bowl triumph would be the perfect appetizer for his 2004 season.
The Chili Bowl Midget Nationals are set to take center stage of the racing world starting tonight and lasting through Saturday.
Several Team Mopar members, including Tony Stewart (pictured above in 2003 Chili Bowl action), are stoked to bring the winner's hardware home for the good guys and kick off '04 in grand fashion.
The classic event will be held on a 1/4-mile dirt oval set up inside the vast Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Center.
New Dodge Motorsports shoe Kasey Kahne will jump behind the wheel of a Mopar-powered midget machine at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals this weekend.
Evernham Motorsports' Kahne is the regular driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Nextel Cup entry formerly driven by Bill Elliott.
When NASCAR Nextel Cup rookie Kasey Kahne takes to the track this Friday in his No. 67 Mopar-powered midget car at the O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, he will begin a new chapter in his racing career.
It's the end of a busy week for Kahne, who will test his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Nextel Cup entry from Evernham Motorsports early this week in Daytona, Fla. He'll then head to the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla., where he will pilot the No. 67 Mopar-powered midget vehicle from Zarounian-Kahne Motorsports.
Kahne will make his fourth Chili Bowl appearance as he attempts to better his best A-main finish of sixth, which came in 2002. The 2000 USAC National Midget Series Champion will wear a special edition driving suit for the Chili Bowl event. The unique suit will feature the barbed wire-laden Team Mopar logo, along with some of Kahne's secondary sponsors.
Mopar expects that Kahne's presence in the open-wheel racing arena will help promote the launch of the brand's three new catalogs for Mopar enthusiasts - Street Essentials, Muscle Essentials and Speed Essentials - which provide a showcase for Mopar innovation. Mopar's new performance products are homegrown right out of Chrysler Group's Performance Vehicle Operations (PVO), the same group that has brought the Dodge Viper SRT-10, the Dodge SRT-4 and the Dodge Ram SRT-10 to life.
"We're thrilled to have Kasey Kahne representing Mopar at the Chili Bowl," said Kevin Miller, Senior Manager of Mopar Brand Excitement. "He fits in very well with our aggressive approach to racing and parts marketing. Mopar has gone and will continue to go the extra mile to research, develop and prove our new powerplants. It is that dedication and innovative technology that gives Mopar a distinction from the other manufacturers. There will always be costs involved in motorsports, but I believe that our consumers will be very pleased with the pricing of our products. Racers like Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne certainly are."
While promotion is important to Mopar, performance sets the standard for the brand's dominance in the open-wheel racing arena. When the green flag falls on Kahne's Chili Bowl run, make no mistake: his Mopar-powered machine will be headed to the front.
As Tony Stewart prepares to begin his 2004 racing season, the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series star is finding himself in familiar territory. Testing earlier this week for the Rolex 24 at the Daytona International Speedway and flying into Tulsa, Okla., for the 18th annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, Stewart is on the same path that led him to his 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Series crown.
Stewart, who fields cars for Team Mopar's well-known, open-wheel stable that includes Cory Kruseman, Jay Drake, Dave Steele, Josh Wise and Danny Lasoski, will strap himself into a Mopar-powered machine this Friday for his eighth Chili Bowl appearance. Stewart will pilot the No. 71 Keith Kunz Motorsports entry in his hunt for his second Chili Bowl title.
While the outcome of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals may not dictate the entirety of his 2004 season, Stewart wouldn't mind if his winning the event were a premonition of the season's outcome. Read on to learn Stewart's thoughts on the Chili Bowl Nationals, Mopar engines, and the 2004 racing season.
Tony Stewart, NASCAR Nextel Cup star and driver of the No. 71 Mopar-powered midget from Keith Kunz Motorsports, on the appeal of the Chili Bowl event:
"First and foremost, I enjoy the event. The Chili Bowl is just a lot of fun. It's the one time during the year that I get to see all of my friends in one place. Competing in the Chili Bowl, you're running against guys from all the different open wheel series. You've got guys from the World of Outlaws, USAC, and SCRA and from Pennsylvania. When you run the Chili Bowl, you know you're competing against the best of the best. But while the Chili Bowl is one of my favorite events, it's also nice for our fans to get to watch us in an open wheel race. I put more pressure on myself to do well in this event because of the fans. I know they expect us to do well, so I put more pressure on myself to perform well."
Tony Stewart on the advantage of driving a Mopar-powered midget at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals:
"The Mopar engines are just perfect for a track like Tulsa. They're very smooth and versatile, which is the type of engine you need to run the Chili Bowl. The track itself is very tricky, and it changes a lot throughout the night. The Mopar [engine's] versatility allows you to adjust to the track as it changes, which is critical to our Chili Bowl run. My two best finishes have come in the past two years - while driving Mopar-powered cars. I'll definitely have an advantage again this year with the Mopar."
Tony Stewart on his driving strategy during the Chili Bowl:
"At the Chili Bowl, you can't afford to be cautious. You don't really relax during the night at all - you're too busy trying to put yourself in a good position for the race. The heat races and main events are the most crucial, they're really important in making the race. The points from the heat races are valuable, so you hope you start far enough back in your heat to pick up a lot of passing points, which will give you a better position in the main. There are so many really good drivers who don't make the A-main at the Chili Bowl - it's a really tough event. You just have to throw caution to the wind."
Tony Stewart on the 2002 vs. 2004 racing season and how they compare thus far:
"The 2002 season started out much the same as this one has so far. We [Stewart, Jan Lammers and Johnny Mowlem] tested for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and then we won the Chili Bowl that year. We went on that year to win the Winston Cup championship, which was the perfect end to a great season. The Chili Bowl is definitely a big event, and if we can go out and win it this year, it will give me a lot of hope for the 2004 season."
Tony Stewart (above) helps prepare a Mopar vehicle for Cory Kruseman prior to the Mopar Million Sprint at Eldora last September.
He will drive the No. 71 Mopar midget car from Keith Kunz Motorsports in this week's Chili Bowl.
Stewart wheels a Mopar-powered midget car toward the starting grid at Madera Speedway.
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