The "Kruser" captures Chili Bowl Friday qualifier

The "Kruser" Captures Friday's Chili Bowl Qualifier Victory By: Lonnie Wheatley TULSA, Okla. (January 7, 2005) -- With a unique motorcycle tire bolted on the left front of his racer, Cory Kruseman moved a step closer to capturing a third Golden...

The "Kruser" Captures Friday's Chili Bowl Qualifier Victory
By: Lonnie Wheatley

TULSA, Okla. (January 7, 2005) -- With a unique motorcycle tire bolted on the left front of his racer, Cory Kruseman moved a step closer to capturing a third Golden Driller trophy by topping Friday night's 25-lap qualifying feature for the 19th Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at Tulsa Expo Raceway.

The two-time and defending Chili Bowl kingpin survived a late bid from P.J. Jones to secure his fourth career Chili Bowl preliminary triumph. Jones settled for the runner-up finish, with Dave Darland and Bobby East claiming the final two transfer positions to Saturday night's 50-lap Chili Bowl championship main event.

"Andy (Bondio) is always trying something, my biggest benefit is I've been driving that car here for seven or eight years now and knowing Andy and the guys that work on the car helps me." Kruseman commented afterward. "The only thing we tried to do is lighten up the nose a little bit and Taylor (Weld) helped us a bunch there, but other than that my car's pretty much the same thing. The best thing is that tire only costs $35."

Kruseman earned the pole position for Friday night's feature by charging from seventh to win the eleventh of the evening's dozen heat races. Gridded on Kruseman's outside shoulder was P.J. Jones, who made a last lap pass of Mike Woodruff to win the seventh heat race after starting sixth.

Kruseman gunned into the lead at the drop of the green flag and led Jones, East, Brian Gerster and Craig Carey across the line the first time around with the caution flying moments later for Clay Klepper, who slid to a halt with front end damage.

Kruseman led Jones and East on the restart, with ninth starter Steve Kinser quickly advancing to fourth. East and Kinser battled for position behind the lead duo until the caution flew again after five rounds when Matt Mitchell and Carey tangled in turn one.

Back under way, the action was fast and furious as Kruseman held off Jones for the point while East, Kinser and tenth-starter Dave Darland waged a torrid battle for position. On the move, Darland was in third by the eighth round.

Jones challenged Kruseman for the lead on the tenth round, only to have the "Kruser" fend off the advance. Kruseman eventually slipped away to a half-dozen car-length advantage as Darland turned the heat up on Jones. Darland took the second position from Jones on the 16th round, only to have Jones regain the position by the time the caution flew after 22 rounds for a six-car tangle in turn four.

Jones moved in on Kruseman's rear bumper on the restart, with Darland and East in front of Kinser as the field readied for a three-lap charge to the checkered flag. Kinser wasted little time making a bid for the fourth and final transfer to Saturday's championship main event, only to spin in turn two after sliding past East. Kinser rejoined the chase at the tail along with Billy Wease, Justin Allgaier and Jimmy Sills, who were collected in the ensuing tangle.

Jones made a valiant effort for the win as he dove underneath Kruseman in the third turn on the 24th lap. Kruseman was up to the task however and drove Andy Bondio's Barnes-powered Agromin No. 47 to the stripe with a two car-length advantage over Jones, who accepted second in Mike Minarik's Chevy-powered K&C Drywall No. 17J TCR.

Darland held the Wilke-Pak Motorsports Mopar-powered No. 11w Stealth in the show position to the line, while East held off a host of challengers for the coveted fourth position on a frantic final lap. Gerster rounded out the top five, with 14th-starter Jerry Coons, Jr., 15th-starting New Zealand ace Michael Pickens, UMARA champ David Gough, 22nd-starter Tyler Walker and 23rd-starter Johnny Rodriguez completing the top ten. Kinser recovered for an eleventh place finish.

Robby Flock, East, Kinser, Darland, Mike Hess, Coons, Jones, Pickens, Gough, Sills, Kruseman and Mitchell topped heat race action for Friday night's 88-car field.

Carey Becker claimed the win in the First "D" Main, with Darren Stewart winning the second "D" Main. Rip Williams and Kasey Kahne were both victorious in twin "C" Main action, while Flock and Hess won the "B" Mains.

Kahne found himself in "C" Main action when his battery became dislodged after hitting the berm in heat race action. After coming from sixth to win the Second "C" Main, Kahne then charged from 15th to claim the fourth and final transfer position to the "A" Feature with a last lap pass in a wild Second "B" Main. The NASCAR Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year was an early casualty in the feature, credited with a 23rd place finish.

Bubba the Lovesponge's first Chili Bowl effort ended in spectacular fashion when he flipped violently down the front straightaway as the green flag flew upon the fourth heat race. Other flip victims on the night included Allgaier, Brett Hearn, Chris Morway, Ryan Cole, Steve Newman, Aaron Kirk, John Sarna, Chris Kopczynski and Ricky Johnson. There were no injuries.

A total of 249 drivers tried their hand over three nights of qualifying action at the O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

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Series Midget
Drivers Dave Darland , P.J. Jones , Cory Kruseman , Johnny Rodriguez , Bobby East , David Gough , Jerry Coons , Billy Wease , Steve Newman , John Sarna , Mike Woodruff , Michael Pickens , Jimmy Sills , Brett Hearn , Justin Allgaier , Rip Williams , Clay Klepper , Robby Flock , Chris Kopczynski , Brian Gerster , Aaron Kirk , Matt Mitchell , Ricky Johnson
Teams Williams