Chili Bowl media picks

O'REILLY CHILI BOWL NATIONALS WINNER? MEDIA SURVEY SAYS... TULSA, Okla. (January 7, 2007) -- Let's face it, work productivity levels have been on the decline all across the nation in recent weeks as conversation has noticeably switched to the ...

O'REILLY CHILI BOWL NATIONALS WINNER? MEDIA SURVEY SAYS...

TULSA, Okla. (January 7, 2007) -- Let's face it, work productivity levels have been on the decline all across the nation in recent weeks as conversation has noticeably switched to the red-hot topic of "Who will win the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Nationals at Tulsa Expo Raceway?"

Can two-time NASCAR Nextel Cup champ Tony Stewart add a second Golden Driller to the mantle? Will defending Chili Bowl champ Tim McCreadie become the first back-to-back winner in event history? Will Kasey Kahne, or one of about 275 others, become the 16th different winner in Chili Bowl history? Will Cory Kruseman or J.J. Yeley give car owner Andy Bondio a fourth Golden Driller? Or can Sammy Swindell add one for the thumb?

A number of esteemed members of the Auto Racing media have been polled (and we all know how painful that can be), each sharing their opinion on who the winner may be. There are no prizes for making the correct prediction (other than bragging rights), and no harsh penalties for an incorrect selection. Much like the atmosphere that surrounds the O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals itself, it's all in good fun. So, kick back and enjoy.

And for the record, the experts were shut out last year, with nobody selecting eventual winner Tim McCreadie. So, be wary before blowing rent money on any of the following selections.

Here's what the experts have to say:

Tony Bokhoven -- Chili Bowl Announcer
Selection -- Kasey Kahne

"Coming off of a solid NASCAR Nextel Cup season, Kasey Kahne has the momentum and promise to win Midget Racings biggest event. Kasey has proved that he is still competitive in open wheel cars recently while in Australia, and various other runs in 2006. He has had slow starts in previous Chili Bowls, but finishes solid. Kasey is poised and ready to add a Golden Driller to the already impressive collection of Winner trophies."

T.J. Buffenbarger -- www.tjslideways.com
Selection -- Jerry Coons, Jr.

"Jerry Coons, Jr. has come close in past years by winning preliminary events. Coons will roll through the Chili Bowl similar to what Jay Drake did after his stellar 2000 season and will win the 2007 Chili Bowl Nationals."

Bryan Gapinski -- Founder, National Midget Driver of the Year award
Selection -- Dave Darland

"Without a doubt the onlyrace more difficult to pick a winner for other than the O'Reilly Chili Bowl would be the Boston Marathon.Last year I picked Danny Stratton and I think he will be a top five contender all week this year, however it should be noted thatthree of the last four winners of this event the team has been based out of Wisconsin.

This year possibly the most potent four car effort ever for the Chili Bowl comes out of the famed Wilke-PAK Motorsports garages with Jerry Coons Jr., Dave Darland, Josh Wise and Kasey Kahne driving.This team won in 2005 with Hines. This year Im picking the numberfive car. The Ralph Wilke led effort on this car with DaveDarland driving is on everyone's short list and minefor victory. The new car has been run only once late last year with a victory byCoons at Angell Park. If I'm wrong it could be onlyspoiled by the fact Darland is beaten by one of his teammates."

Gary Guehler -- Texas Motor Speedway
Selection -- Billy Boat

"Predicting the winner of the O'Reilly Chili Bowl is kind of like guessing how much snow will fall this winter in Colorado - you know it will happen but are clueless about everything else. Anyway, let's give it a shot. My prediction is that 1997 Chili Bowl champ Billy Boat will take the Golden Driller back to Arizona. Patience is a virtue on qualifying nights and Boat's IRL experience will pay off here. Plus he is a true midget racer. My backup picks - completing a West Coast trifecta - are 2000 and 2004 Chili Bowl winner Cory Kruseman and Mr. Electricity Damion Gardner. It is suggested that fans not use their Chili Bowl beverage money to place a Las Vegas wager using these picks!"

Len Hayward -- Sports Editor, Midland Reporter Telegram (Midland, TX)

"Too many entries to pick just one. So here's five favorites and five wild cards.

Favorites

Sammy Swindell - The four-time champ is due for another win.

Tony Stewart - Hungry to make up for not racing last year.

Kasey Kahne - Kahne plus Wilke-Pak could equal Golden Driller.

J.J. Yeley - If he makes it through the qualifying night unscathed he will contend for the win.

Cory Kruseman - Always tough in Tulsa.

Wild Cards

Tim McCreadie - Winning once maybe a fluke, winning twice means this guy should switch jobs.

P.J. Jones - Always fast at the Chili Bowl butusually ends up on tough qualifying night.

Terry McCarl - He may be a rookie at the Chili Bowl but he could turn some heads.

Dave Darland - Hungry for first Chili Bowl and it may come this year.

Jerry Coons Jr. - Another part of the strong Wilke-Pak contingent."

Alan Holland -- www.hoseheads.com
Selection -- Cory Kruseman

"Cory...Sammy...Cory...Sammy....I have to go with Cory Kruseman and the Andy Bondio #47. They are always fast and in the hunt."

Don Hubbard -- Columnist, Sooner Circles
Selection -- J.J. Yeley

"I am going to pick JJ Yeley this year he has been so close and one helluva driver who thrills the crowd each year and his past background both in sprints and midgets has its merits. He deserves to be the 2007 National Chili Bowl Champion."

Jack Miller -- Columnist, Sprint Car & Midget Magazine
Selection -- Brady Bacon

"I am going to go way out on a limb and predict a local driver to win the Chili Bowl. We have only had one local driver win the big race and that was Andy Hillenberg. Although I believe Andy may not have won that race if the Jones Brothers had not taken each other out of the race. So, I am going to go with Brady Bacon of Broken Arrow since he has shown the most improvement over this past season. and he has the most desire to succeed in his all new race team.. Skill, car, luck and desire will be the key factors in this year's Chili Bowl champion and Brady Bacon will have them all."

Jerry Reigle -- Area Auto Racing News/The Patriot News
Selection -- Ray Bull/Steve Buckwalter

"I've cometo learn that predicting a Chili Bowl Nationals winner is like finding that special slot machine that will buzz loudly with triple diamonds. But hey, one must find it, and one must pick a Chili Bowl winner. So, here it goes. The Golden Driller will return east of the Mississippi again this year. More specific, it's coming east of theOhio border to Pennsylvania, either to Bloomsburg or Royersford, home of Ray Bull and Steve Buckwalter, respectively.

Bull isChili Bowl treasure. He finished 19thin 2004, fifth in 2005 and was teased last year with a DNQ. Now, that's how you make a man thirst for the big prize. Give him a taste of the Chili Bowl finals then take it away. Last season, Bull broke away from racing full-time with ARDC, spent some time on the road and honed some skills thatshould break him intoan Okie Victory Lane. Buckwalter is simply one of the best all-around midget-car drivers who doesn't live in Indiana, Illinois or Ohio. He can adapt to the circumstance, a necessary skill to win the Chili Bowl.

Yep, we'll take Bull and Buckwalter. That's twopicks -an easy out - but that's how we play our slots back here...two at a time."

John Rittenoure -- Tulsa World Correspondent
Selection -- J.J. Yeley

"Yeley showed his potential in 2003 when he advanced from the H to the D feature then in 2004 he topped that advancing 69 positions as he worked his way from the F feature to third in the A main. If Yeley can stay out of trouble and put all that effort into the A main 2007 just might be his year."

Pat Sullivan
Selection -- Jerry Coons, Jr.

"Classy veteran has had great success at the Chili Bowl in the past and comes off a great year with a formidable team. He is, however, among a bevy of drivers who have what it takes to win."

Randy Ward -- KSAN-TV Sports Director / Chili Bowl Announcer
Selection -- Jesse Hockett

"Despite sliding results through Jesse's previous three Chili Bowl events, this is the year Jesse Hockett will turn things around and prevail as the one hoisting the Golden Driller. In 2005 Hockett tasted victory, okay it was the 'K' Feature, but that just sets the stage for this year's great triumph. During his 2006 racing season Jesse captured wins in 12 events and captured the O'Reilly Sprint Bandit Midwest Swing Championship over some of nations best non-wing drivers. That success gives Jesse the confidence to win the 21st edition of the Chili Bowl."

Justin Zoch -- Editor, Flat Out Magazine
Selection -- Cory Kruseman

"Broken record alert! Just as I have for the last five years, my money is going into the Cory Kruseman/Andy Bondio sweepstakes. With two wins, two seconds and two thirds in the last eight Bowls, how could you bet against this guy? Kruseman has developed into the most feared force at the Chili Bowl, and you can feel a change in atmosphere when the 47 hits the track. If the crowd is reacting, I have to believe the other competitors realize what a force this combo is too."

After putting each of the above on the spot (and thanks to all for your participation), I would be remiss if I didn't climb out on the proverbial limb as well by attempting the nearly impossible -- predicting a winner for the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

So, here it is.

Lonnie Wheatley
Selection -- Jon Stanbrough

"Stanbrough loves the Tulsa Fairgrounds. After racing through four early Saturday features in his '04 Chili Bowl rookie effort, his next visit was on the big track in a USAC Sprinter when he spotted the field a 0x00be-lap advantage and still charged all the way up to fourth without any yellow flag assists along the way.

The Indiana non-winger has made the last two Chili Bowl features, finishing 14th in '05 then improving to sixth last year. After piling up 21 feature wins during the 2006 season, look for the quiet one to make some noise on Saturday night as he lays claim to the Golden Driller trophy."

-credit: www.chilibowl.com

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Series Midget
Drivers Tony Stewart , Billy Boat , Kasey Kahne , Dave Darland , J.J. Yeley , P.J. Jones , Sammy Swindell , Cory Kruseman , Jay Drake , Jerry Coons , Josh Wise , Jon Stanbrough , Ray Bull , Jesse Hockett , Damion Gardner , Tim McCreadie , Danny Stratton , Jack Miller , Jerry Coons Jr.