ARDC Chili Bowl final report

Bull Carries ARDC Torch To a Fifth Place Finish at The Chili Bowl Tulsa, Ok - January 8 - Thirteen drivers from the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) attempted to qualify for what is arguably the biggest midget race in the United States, but...

Bull Carries ARDC Torch To a Fifth Place Finish at The Chili Bowl

Tulsa, Ok - January 8 - Thirteen drivers from the American Racing Drivers Club (ARDC) attempted to qualify for what is arguably the biggest midget race in the United States, but only one of them was successful in that attempt. And that chauffeur, Ray Bull, almost stole the show on Saturday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bull began his night's work by starting on the pole in the first B-main. Competing against a stellar field that included World of Outlaws Sprint Car king Steve Kinser and former Chili Bowl champion Jay Drake, Bull led every trip around the quarter-mile oval in winning the 20-lapper. That victory placed the Bloomsburg, PA veteran in 13th starting spot for the 19th Annual, 50-lap O'Reilly's Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

Bull spent the first part of the A-main allowing the traffic in front of him to sort itself out. He was up to ninth by lap 12, and seven laps later the five-time ARDC champion found himself in seventh position. He moved into sixth on lap 20, then took over fifth place on the 23rd tour of the speedway.

That was as far as the pilot of the Mega Motorsports/Stealth/Gaerte would advance, but co-owner Jeff "Milt" Aquilini was hardly disappointed. "I am so thrilled right now," said a breathless Aquilini, still surrounded by well-wishers an hour after the race ended. "We took a standard ARDC car and came through the field to finish fifth against a lot of cars that were much more exotic. This is great!"

Bull was involved in interviews with the multitude of media personnel who attended the indoor event, and was not available for comment as this was being written. But Aquilini was only too happy to explain how his driver pulled off the fantastic finish. "He ran the bottom exculsively," noted the elated car owner. "He just picked guys off by staying on the bottom." Bull made at least one pass by moving up the track, however, as Aquilini pointed out, "Oh man, he even passed Tony Stewart by giving him a slide job!"

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series racer Tracy Hines, from Greenfield, IN, captured his first O'Reilly's Chili Bowl victory by narrowly defeating two-time and defending champion of the race Cory Kruseman. USAC sprint and midget star Dave Darland came on at the end to finish third ahead of California youngster Josh Ford.

The other ARDC campaigners found out just how difficult it is to make the 24-car starting field for this prestigious event. Royersford, PA's Steve Buckwalter had a fourth-place starting spot in the second B-main, giving him a good chance of transferring into the main event. But Buckwalter spun in turn two on the opening lap of the B-main, eventually falling out of the race and finishing 16th.

Frank Polimeda, of Fort Lee, NJ, charged from his 13th starting spot in the first B-main to take the checkered flag in seventh. He missed the transfer by just one position, as the top six from each B-main moved on to the 50-lap finale.

The Miller sisters, Tracy and Michele, both had their evening end in the twin C-mains. Tracy, from Reading, PA, started way back in 15th in C-main number one. She had to pit during a caution to change a tire, then raced her way from the back of the pack to finish ninth. Only the top five finishers in the C-mains moved on to the B's.

Michele rolled off the grid in eighth place as the second C-main took took the green. Her Victory Motorcycle no. 4 got turned around on lap one, bringing out the yellow flag. Michele wound up in 12th spot as the race ended, and missed the cut to transfer to a B-main.

A full summary will follow on Sunday, detailing the experiences of all the ARDC drivers as they tried to race through the "alphabet soup" that is the final day of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

A complete rundown of each of Saturday's races can be found at www.whowon.com. Click on the "Chili Bowl Live" link. Also log on to chilibowl.com for all of the news and results from this year's spectacle.

-ardc-

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Series Midget
Drivers Steve Kinser , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Cory Kruseman , Jay Drake , Josh Ford , Ray Bull