Chili Bowl 2009 -- Tuesday Preview Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (January 12, 2009) -- Each January, the City of Tulsa comes to life like no other time of the year. Auto racing fans and competitors from throughout the nation swarm the ...
Chili Bowl 2009 -- Tuesday Preview
Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (January 12, 2009) -- Each January, the City of Tulsa comes to life like no other time of the year. Auto racing fans and competitors from throughout the nation swarm the northeastern Oklahoma town.
Motels are filling, restaurants are abuzz and certain nightspots flourish when each night's final checkered flag flies.
Event officials have somehow crammed a record 290-plus entries inside a QuikTrip Center that can only accommodate 179 trailers, a trick slicker than any mystical rabbits plucked from any ol' magician's hat.
And thousands upon thousands of methanol-starved fans are ready to call Tulsa, and the QuikTrip Center's Tulsa Expo Raceway in particular, home for the next few days.
It's time for the 23rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire as nearly 300 drivers from 30 different states and Canada battle it out in pursuit of the coveted Golden Driller trophy.
After Monday's practice session, it's down to business with Tuesday's O'Reilly Qualifying Night, which will feature 70-plus competitors. And an added bonus is the Chili Bowl Race of Champions, a special 20-lapper featuring 14 top Chili Bowl competitors including eight past event winners.
Locals that missed out on tickets for the rest of the event even have chance for a reserved seat at this one, as a limited number of Tuesday tickets remain. Without ticket in hand, it'll be pit passes for the rest of the week.
Tuesday Entry Notes:
Tuesday History: This year marks just the third night of Tuesday competition in 23 years of Chili Bowl history and the first full-blown qualifier after Bubba Altig (2006) and Josh Most (2007) topped Pre-Qualifying over the past two years. Among Tuesday's qualifying field, Danny Lasoski, Brad Kuhn and Davey Ray have topped past Chili Bowl qualifying features.
Past Feature Starters (16): A total of 68 drivers entered in this year's Chili Bowl have started past Chili Bowl championship main events. Sixteen are included in Tuesday night's Qualifier, including: Danny Lasoski (14), Shane Carson (4), Donnie Lehmann (4), Davey Ray (4), Rick Hendrix (3), Brad Kuhn (3), Keith Rauch (3), Chad DeSelle (2), Bobby East (2), Mike Hess (2), Casey Shuman (2), Terry McCarl (1), Paul McMahan (1), Bobby Michnowicz (1), Kevin Swindell (1), Paul White (1).
2008 Chili Bowl Main Event Starters: K. Swindell (6th), D. Ray (15th), Terry McCarl (19th), B. Michnowicz (21st), B. Kuhn (23rd)
Rookies (20): A total of 68 Rookie competitors have entered this year's Chili Bowl thus far. Twenty of those are slated for Tuesday night, including: Jerry Bell, Henry Clarke, Cody Darrah, Eli Deshaies, Jim Donley, Mark Dotson, Andrew Elson, Frank Flud, Eric Jacobsen, P.J. Gargiulo, Drew Heistand, Rob Kershaw, Tanner Mullens, Aaron Ott, Daniel Robinson, Landon Simon, Nick Smith, Brandon Spithaler, Nick Wagner, Chris Zrinski.
Race of Champions: The 20-lap Race of Champions will include Dave Darland, Jay Drake, Damion Gardner, Scott Hatton, Johnny Heydenreich, Tracy Hines, Kasey Kahne, Cory Kruseman, Jason Leffler, Tim McCreadie, Sammy Swindell, J.J. Yeley, Steve Buckwalter, Tony Elliott.
Veteran: When Donnie Lehmann of Springfield, IL, hits the track on Tuesday night, it will mark the official start of his 20th Chili Bowl effort. The veteran Midgeteer, fielding four entries in addition to his own, will become the first driver in event history to reach that mark.
Danny Lasoski is next on Tuesday's seniority list as he makes his 18th Chili Bowl start. "The Dude" has made 14 career Chili Bowl championship feature event starts, second only to four-time winner Sammy Swindell. Lasoski has missed the feature cut over each of the past two years however.
Rhode Island Rep: Aboard one of four Chris Walker entries, Eli Deshaies of N. Kingstown, RI, is set for Tuesday night's action. Deshaies, who recently landed a central PA Sprint Car ride when his sister won a race-ready Sprint Car in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame & Museum's drawing, will become the first competitor in Chili Bowl history to hail from Rhode Island.
Keepin' Busy: The Wilke-Pak team will have a full plate on Tuesday night. A late addition to the potent four-car stable, Terry McCarl is set for Tuesday night action as fellow Wilke-Pak entries Dave Darland and Tim McCreadie mix it up in Race of Champions action.
Oddity: It's not a likely candidate to win the "Best Appearing" car award, but French Grimes' No. F1 Midget certainly falls into the "unique" category.
Tuned Up: Gary Taylor got a good feel for the Tulsa Expo Raceway clay oval with a dominant Micro Sprint "A" Class win on January 3 at the Tulsa Shootout. Taylor pilots one of four Triple-X chassis entered in this year's Chili Bowl and the only one on Tuesday night among a field of 25 Spikes, 16 Stealths, 4 Beasts, 4 Bullets, 4 TCR's, 3 DRC's, 3 Ellis', 2 Maxims, 1 AC, an Eagle, an Edmunds, an FSC, a Gamester, a Grimes, a Twister, a Predator, a Buzzard and a Barnstormer.
Full Bodies: While open wheel fans have all variety of favorites to cheer on each night in the from of numerous Sprint Car and Midget aces, Late Model fans will have at least a pair of drivers to keep an eye Tuesday as Josh Richards and Eric Jacobsen tackle the Midget ranks. It marks Richards' fourth Chili Bowl try aboard a Tony Stewart Racing entry, while Jacobsen tries out the Midget ranks for the first time in a Knepper mount.
Ladies: New York's Jessica Zemken, an ASCS Patriot feature winner in 2007, will be the lone lady racer among Tuesday night's field. A part of a seven-car California-based effort, Zemken is one of seven women among this year's Chili Bowl entries.
Tuesday Entries: The latest and greatest updated list of Tuesday contenders is at www.chilibowl.com/2009qualtue.
Tuesday Tickets: A limited number of reserved seats for Tuesday night's Qualifying Event and Chili Bowl Race of Champions are available for $26 per person and may be obtained by calling 918-838-3777 or at the gate. Pit passes are available as well.
9:00 a.m. -- Building Opens
11:00 a.m. -- Pit Pass Booth Opens
11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. -- Trade Show
2:00 p.m. -- Clear Building
2:30 p.m. -- Open Grandstands and pits for entry with ticket and/or pit pass
3:00 p.m. -- Driver's Draw for Starting Position
4:15 p.m. -- Driver's Meeting
5:00 p.m. -- Hot Laps
6:00 p.m. -- Heat Races Start