Chili Bowl: Friday report 2002-01-11

Kruseman keeps elbows up in Chili Bowl win Tulsa, OK (Jan. 11, 2002) - Cory Kruseman compared driving a midget at the Chili Bowl to driving a Sprint Car on the tight quarter mile at Ventura, Calif. Maybe it was that experience that helped him ...

Kruseman keeps elbows up in Chili Bowl win

Tulsa, OK (Jan. 11, 2002) - Cory Kruseman compared driving a midget at the Chili Bowl to driving a Sprint Car on the tight quarter mile at Ventura, Calif. Maybe it was that experience that helped him drive his No. 47 Andy Bondio-owned entry to a victory on Friday night in the final preliminary night of the 16th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

On the ninth lap of the race, Kruseman, the 1999 Chili Bowl champion, took advantage of Jason Leffler holding up Tony Stewart on the bottom to drive from third to first on the high side of turns one and two and lead the rest of the way in the 25-lap main event at the Tulsa Expo Raceway.

After Kruseman passed Stewart he pulled away from the field to take the victory, even though he almost lost the race by hitting the brakes hard in Turn 2 to avoid a lapped car.

Stewart finished second, with Leffler third and Dave Darland edging Jerry Coons Jr. at the finish line for fourth.

``I was gift wrapping it,'' Kruseman said of the last lap. ``Running a midget here at the Chili Bowl is a lot like running a Sprint Car at Ventura. You got to get your elbows up and got to hustle. I think there's a lot tied to the two of them.''

Kruseman's victory put him in the top three of Saturday night's 50-lap Championship main event. After Friday night's preliminary the 12 drivers who were locked into Saturday's main event drew for positions. Wednesday night's winner Kevin Doty drew the pole, Thursday night's winner Tracy Hines outside the front row and Kruseman will start third.

Leffler took charge of the race from the pole early in the race as much of the field followed him and went high on the cushion of the fifth-mile track, while Stewart stayed down on the bottom. Leffler led the race for eight laps through three early cautions, but on a Lap 9 restart Leffler decided to go to the bottom to stay in front of Stewart who was running in second.

Kruseman took advantage by going around the two in Turn 1 and taking over the lead exiting Turn 2. Stewart, driving the No. 67S Stealth/Mopar for Keith Kunz, passed Leffler for second one lap later.

The final caution of the race came out on Lap 12 when Josh Ford spun in between turns three and four, and on the restart Stewart challenged Kruseman for the lead, with him on the bottom and Kruseman on the top.

Kruseman, though, held off the challenge and then started to pull away from the rest of the field.

``You've got to go where they're not,'' Stewart said of running the bottom. ``There was never an opportunity to get to the top, first of all. I was hoping (Leffler) wouldn't go down and he went down. I adjusted the shocks (on the last caution) and by the time I got the setting (on the shocks) to run the bottom we messed it up for the top so we just had to stick with what we had at the end.''

Leffler moved from the bottom to the top to hang on for third, and said he was disappointed not to win but was ready for Saturday night's championship main event.

``The car was a little bit off, the driver was off some more,'' said Leffler, who was driving the No. 29L Beast/Mopar for Dino Tomassi. ``I didn't know where to go and I think they would have gone by me no matter what. (Saturday) is a whole different deal, though.''

As Kruseman pulled away from the field, Darland and Coons were battling for the final transfer spot. Coons running a similar line to Stewart on the bottom drove from 13th to challenge Darland for the spot. On the last lap, Coons stayed on the bottom while Darland was at the top and Darland used the momentum from the top to take the fourth spot. Steve Knepper was sixth, with Tony Elliott seventh, Roger Miller eighth, Troy Rutherford ninth and Billy Pauch, in the third Wilke PAK entry, 10th.

Friday Night News and Notes

B Main action - Brian Gerster took the lead from Josh Ford in the 11th lap to win the first 15-lap B Main. Ford, who started on the pole, finished second, with Roger Miller holding off Paul White for the third and final transfer spot.

In the second B Main, Ted Hines inherited the lead on Lap 8 when Nick Lundgreen jumped the cushion in Turn 1 and backed into the wall. Joe Roe was second and Zach Chappell finished in the third and final transfer spot.

C Main action... Randy Koch passed pole starter Jeff Heaton for the lead on Lap 7 and led the rest of the 12-lap C Main. Travis Welpot, who flipped hard in his heat race, finished second with Heaton third and Ryan Durst fourth.

Heat race action - Jason Leffler passes Ricky Logan on Lap 4 to win the first 10-lap heat race. Paul White, who started outside the front row, finished third and Zach Chappell fourth.

In the second heat, Tony Stewart takes the lead from outside the front row and rolls to the victory. Keith Rauch and Jack Hewitt battle for second throughout the race, with Rauch edging Hewitt for second at the finish line.

Jonathan Allard won the third heat after he inherited the lead when Nick Lundgreen flipped in Turn 3 on Lap 3 and led the rest of the way. Billy Pauch finished second and Lundgreen came back to take third.

Troy Rutherford jumped out from the pole and outran Dave Darland to win the fourth heat race.

In the fifth heat, Dean Franklin led all 10 laps from outside the front row as Steve Knepper finished second and David Camfield Jr. third. Scott Bloomquist in his Chili Bowl debut struggled, including jumping the cushion in the first turn on the first lap and coming to a stop, but the Late Model veteran finished fourth.

Cory Kruseman drove from third to first in the first lap and led all the way in a caution free sixth heat race. Josh Ford was second and Tony Elliott drove from seventh to third.

Jerry Coons Jr. led all the way from the pole with Joe Roe second and Roger Miller third.

McCune update: Doug McCune, who flipped hard on the front stretch on the last lap of the 15-lap second B Main, was transported to St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. According to a Chili Bowl official, McCune was undergoing a CT Scan, but was responsive to the doctors. McCune is from Colleyville, TX.

-len ashburn-

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Series Midget
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Dave Darland , Jack Hewitt , Tony Elliott , Cory Kruseman , Paul White , Doug McCoun , Jonathan Allard , Billy Pauch , Dean Franklin , Brian Gerster , Steve Knepper , Josh Ford , David Camfield Jr. , Troy Rutherford , Roger Miller , Jerry Coons Jr.