Chili Bowl Nationals - media picks

2008 Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals Winner? Media Survey Says... TULSA, Okla. (January 7, 2008) -- The best of the best are set to slug it out over the course of five nights, beginning on Tuesday at the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals,...

2008 Dodge Chili Bowl Nationals Winner? Media Survey Says...

TULSA, Okla. (January 7, 2008) -- The best of the best are set to slug it out over the course of five nights, beginning on Tuesday at the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, and the odds of selecting Saturday night's winner are only slightly better than winning the lottery.

But as has become tradition, a number of motorsports media members have been asked to do just that.

A difficult question to be sure. Can Tony Stewart become the first back-to-back winner in event history? Will Cory Kruseman or J.J. Yeley give car owner Andy Bondio a fourth Golden Driller? Will Sammy Swindell get his fifth Chili Bowl win? Will Kasey Kahne follow Tony Stewart's 06-07 pattern of "F" Main to Chili Bowl glory? Or will one of 280 or so others become the 16th different winner in Chili Bowl history?

Two years ago, none of the esteemed media members selected eventual winner Tim McCreadie. And to top themselves, not one singled out Tony Stewart to win last year's edition of the Chili Bowl. In short, don't bet the house payment on any of the following.

Tony Bokhoven -- Chili Bowl Announcer @Selection -- Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

"Ricky picked up 5 midget wins this season driving for TSR and was arguably one of the top non-wing sprint car and midget drivers of the season. I think he has the momentum and determination to win a Golden Driller in 2008."

Bryan Gapinski -- Founder, National Midget Driver of the Year award
Selection -- Jerry Coons, Jr.

"With a record 285 entries I believe about 10% (28)have the correct driver/car owner combination to claim the Golden Driller. From that I scaled it down to a great final few laps Saturday Night with Jerry Coons Jr. nipping Tracy Hines & Jason Lefflerfor the victory, there's your podium for Saturday!"

Gary Guehler -- Texas Motor Speedway @Selection -- Dave Darland/Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

"Picking the outside temperature on Chili Bowl Saturday is easier than choosing a Golden Driller winner. Let's go with a couple of unexpected choices - after all, isn't picking a Stewart, Swindell or Kruseman the easy way out? Dave Darland may greet noted owner Steve Lewis' return to the Chili Bowl wars with midget racing's most prestigious crown Saturday night. Experienced, knows how to qualify in the prelims, hard charger. A dark horse is Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Bullring trained at Memphis' Riverside Speedway, wingless experience the past seasons. And a fan favorite - who can't root for KO, Kevin Olson?"

Len Hayward -- Sports Editor Midland Reporter-Telegram

Sammy Swindell - Last year showed 4-time champ still as feisty as ever

Tony Stewart - Last chance to have fun before he begins grueling Cup season

Jerry Coons Jr. - Driving for powerful Wilke-Pak team could help him earn elusive Golden Driller

Cory Kruseman - Always a favorite in Tulsa

Wild Cards

Jon Stanbrough - Indiana gasser has put on shows before in Tulsa

Dave Darland - Interesting to see how new Toyota powerplant handles the Bowl

J.J. Yeley - You know he's fast if he can stay on his wheels

Gary "Bubba" Altig - Why not? He proved he could compete last year and has one more year experience

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

"He has thrilled the fans for many years and he is overdue, he is my pick for 2008."

Jack Miller -- Columnist, Sprint Car & Midget Magazine

"The Chili Bowl competition basically has come down to three main ingredients over the past twenty one years: a really good car----25% a really good driver---25% a hell of a lot of luck---50% so here are some of my best picks to make the Saturday nite feature event.

1. Sammy Swindell....Mr. Consistency, among the leaders every year Very. smart in tight situations .

2. Brady Short....Surprise!! Surprise!!!

3. Bobby East...only if he can avoid a qualifying nite melee.

4. Danny Lasoski....has been second best in so many big ones. This could be his time to shine in front.

5. Jon Stanbrough...2007 was his best year yet, and it could carry right on over to 2008.

6. Dave Darland....the cream always rises to the top. He will always be the man to beat in any race.

7. Jerry Coons, Jr.....Why not?? He has already won everything else.

8. Tony Stewart....Tony only goes to win!!

9. Darren Hagen....Smart...lot of courage...just needs to get a break.

10. Corey Kruseman....Always there!!! Can do it again anytime, any place.

11. J.J. Yeley....No one more exciting in the entire field. Just needs to avoid traffic jams.

12. Jason Leffler...has had a pretty tough NASCAR career. Will get his spirits back up with a good midget run.

13. Brad Kuhn....another of the very good tight competition racer Justs. might be one of the Chili Bowl surprise s.

14. Kasey Kahne....why not?? He has always been a great midget chauffeur and would be great for his commercials.

15. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.....has surprised a lot of people already. Has a really great ride for this event, but he likes the wide open spaces better than the close-in stuff.

16. Brady Bacon.....will be one of the top local favorites....Has been really outstanding in the Tulsa Shoot-outs and can win this one with a couple of good breaks.

As usual, I do expect to see a couple of non-headliner names in the main event, but once again, it all comes down to a lot of luck on qualifying nites. See you all soon and hoping we will have a great experience.

Jerry Reigle -- Area Auto Racing News @Selection -- Steve Buckwalter

"One year, the Golden Driller trophy will return east of the Mississippi and land in Pennsylvania. Buckwalter will give the vocal and proud Pennsylvania Posse fans another reason to proclaim why our drivers are considered the best in the business with a CBN win. His versatility, which included appearances in Sprint Cars, Micro Sprints and ARDC Midgets over the past year, makes him a lock to steal America's best indoor Midget Car race."

John Rittenoure -- Tulsa World Corresponden @Selection - Tony Stewar t

"I feel Tony Stewart will win again to become the first driver to win a second straight Chili Bowl."

Pat Sullivan @Selection -- Dave Darland

"While I think this may be the most wide-open race in years -- Dave Darland teamed with Steve Lewis and Kelly Drake may help the great veteran finally get a Golden Driller."

Mike Sweeton -- Chili Bowl Announcer @Selection -- Jerry Coons, Jr.

"Pick one out of that driver list? You don't ask for much do you? I'd just like to narrow it down to five. Oh well, here goes... after much grumbling I would have to say that it is time for Jerry Coons, Jr. to take home his first Golden Driller. He's always towards the front on preliminary nights, which is a key factor in setting up Saturday night and he's coming off of the two best seasons of his career. Most importantly is how well he and the Wilke crew seem to be working together right now. They know what it takes to win this thing and communication between driver and crew is always a big factor."

Randy Ward -- KSAN-TV Sports Director / Chili Bowl Announcer @Selection -- Sammy Swindell

Sammy Swindell will win his fifth Golden Driller this time around. No matter how deep in the field he starts the day on Saturday he will give it a run and truly think he has a chance to win, and that is what will make him tough to beat.

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

"It's not a coy or interesting pick but I'll take Dave Darland in the Steve Lewis Number Nine machine. Lewis has lifted his self-imposed Chili Bowl boycott and will send America's most lovable racer to do the dirty work. Darland has been close the last few years in the Wilke-Pak Midget and should have everything he needs this year. He's made the A-main in nine of his 11 Chili Bowl attempts and with car counts nearing 300, I'll take the guy most likely to make the A-main and let it ride from there!"

With the rest of these chaps brave enough to make a selection or two, guess I'll try out the impossible as well by trying to predict the winner of the 22nd Annual Dodge Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.

Lonnie Wheatley @Selection -- Brady Bacon

"Kasey Kahne gets his first Golden Driller, but it will be as car owner rather than driver as Brady Bacon keeps the Golden Driller within the Sooner State for just the second time in event history and the first time since an Andy Hillenburg win in 1994. Honing his skills by taking on the nation's top Midget and "traditional" Sprint Car shoes over the past year, the third-generation Bacon tuned up for the Chili Bowl with a win in the Tulsa Shootout Multi class headliner just over a week ago."

-credit: cbn/lw

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