Chili Bowl: Thursday report 2002-01-10

Hines passes Malone on last lap for win Tulsa, OK (Jan. 10, 2002) - Tracy Hines knew he was in the right position as the laps were winding down in Thursday night's preliminary main event at the 16th Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals ...

Hines passes Malone on last lap for win

Tulsa, OK (Jan. 10, 2002) - Tracy Hines knew he was in the right position as the laps were winding down in Thursday night's preliminary main event at the 16th Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals .

Entering the final lap of the 25-lap race on the indoor Tulsa Expo Raceway, Hines was running behind leader Critter Malone in second on the bottom of the race track like he had done for much of the race. But on the last lap Hines moved high entering the first turn and the move paid off.

Malone, who started on the pole, was caught behind a lapped car on the bottom and Hines took advantage by driving around Malone on the high side of Turn 2 to take the lead on the final lap for the first time in the race and stayed there through the third and fourth turn to take the victory.

Hines gave Wilke PAK Motorsports its second consecutive preliminary victory at this year's Chili Bowl, as Kevin Doty won Wednesday's preliminary. Malone finished second, with Jeremy Sherman running a strong third, even though he hopped the inside berm in each of the four turns a few times during the race, and Andy Pierce took fourth. Hines, Malone, Sherman and Pierce are locked into Saturday night's Championship Main event, but their positions in the 50-lap feature will not be determined until Friday night.

``I could see more than (Malone) could see basically,'' Hines said. ``It's best to be running second like that in close lapped traffic and he couldn't see what I could see. Plus what do you do when you are leading, you don't go away from the line that kept you there? It was a lucky deal. Traffic won me the race.''

Hines, of Greenfield, Ind., and driving the No. 11 Wilke PAK Stealth/Fontana, ran second to Malone for 24 of the 25 laps and was one of the few drivers to leave the bottom groove to try the top during the race. The track was worked prior to the race, as officials knocked down the cushion in all four turns and tilled up the bottom and had some light water. When Hines moved to the top earlier in the race he found out it was not as good as the bottom.

``It was just too grainy up there and the car would slid so much,'' said Hines, who entered the press room on crutches as he is recovering from a fractured ankle he suffered at Perris Auto Speedway in California in early November. ``It helped my confidence that I went up there earlier in the night and I tried it. I wasn't going to lean on anybody. You are racing as hard as you can and you got to remember you got to race with them again (on Saturday).''

The race was slowed by five cautions in the first five laps, with the final one coming on Lap 5 when Kevin Olson, Craig Dollansky, P.J. Chesson, Chris Morway, Scott Hatton, J.D. Turner and Chris Ebberts were involved in a multi-car crash in Turn 2. When the race restarted, Malone led a train of drivers running the bottom part of the race track.

Hines moved to the top on Lap 8, but it did not pay off as he had to hold off a hard-charging Jeremy Sherman. Malone, led Hines and Sherman over the next 12 laps, until Sherman made a strong inside move entering Turn 1 and took second from Hines on Lap 21. But one lap later, Sherman jumped the berm exiting Turn 2 and Hines took the second spot back.

``We thought we had a chance to win there and just had to go for it,'' Sherman said. ``I got by (Hines) and I got a little anxious and ran it on the berm and upset the car.''

Sherman, though remained in third, as Hines set his sights on Malone and stayed on his bumper until the last lap.

Malone said he would not do anything different than he did on Thursday night, other than ``maybe come a little wider off Turn 2.''

Dan Boorse, who started outside the front row and held the lead briefly on an aborted first lap restart, finished fifth, with Matt Westfall sixth, Danny Lasoski seventh, Andy Hillenburg eighth, Shane Hollingsworth ninth and Aaron Fike 10th.

Thursday Night News and Notes

B Main action ^Å Shane Hollingsworth took the lead from Scott Hatton on Lap 3 and led the rest of the way in a caution-filled first 15-lap B Main. The race featured five cautions, with the final one coming out on a Lap 7 restart. Hatton finished second, with J.J. Yeley taking the third and final transfer spot. Chuck Gurney Jr. was fourth and Andy Eatwell finished fifth after winning the C main. Also in this race, Bobby East flipped hard on the front stretch. East walked away but was unable to continue.

In the second B Main, Donnie Beechler took control of the race from pole starter Jim Sawyer in the second lap and led the last 14 of the 15-lap event. Craig Dollansky finished second, with Aaron Fike driving from ninth to take third. Fike passed Edwin Wilson on Lap 8 for the third and final transfer spot.

C Main action ... Andy Eatwell endured six cautions to win the 12-lap C main. Eatwell took the lead from pole starter Adam Young on the third lap. Phil Shapel was second, Korey Wyant third and Young finished fourth. On the second lap of the race, track officials were forced to bring out the tiller to help work in oil that was spilled from Patrick Jones' car in Turns 1 and 2, delaying the race a few minutes.

Heat race action ^Å In the first heat, Tracy Hines drove from fifth to first on the first lap and easily won. P.J. Chesson was second and Chris Morway third.

Matt Westfall won the second heat after passing Bobby East for the lead in Lap 4 of the 10-lap race. East finished second and Craig Dollansky third.

Critter Malone's showing in the third heat helped him earn the pole for Thursday night's preliminary main event. Malone drove from seventh to take the win, passing J.J. Yeley on Lap 8 of the 10-lap event.

Danny Ebberts won the fourth heat race in his Chili Bowl debut, leading all 10 laps from the front row. Danny Lasoski finished second after starting seventh.

In the fifth heat, Dan Boorse earned the outside front row starting position of Thursday night's preliminary main by equaling Malone's exploits by driving from seventh to win the 10-lap race. Boorse edged J.D. Turner to lead the ninth lap and then held on for the victory.

Jeremy Sherman won the sixth heat race, passing Donnie Beechler on the ninth lap. Beechler led the first eight laps and finished second.

Andy Hillenburg won the seventh heat race after moving from the second row to the first row because pole starter Aaron Fike spun out in Turn 2 of the first lap. Fike tried to make his way back through the field, but finished fourth. Shane Cottle was second and Shane Hollingsworth third.

Kevin Olson won the eighth heat race, driving around R.J. Johnson on the first lap. Prior to the completion of the lap, though, Olson was involved in a six-car wreck that forced a complete restart. Johnson, who is 14 years old, was the only drive not involved. Jim Sawyer finished second and Aaron Pierce was third.

-len ashburn-

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Series Midget
Drivers Donnie Beechler , Andy Hillenburg , Danny Lasoski , Danny Ebberts , J.J. Yeley , Tracy Hines , Aaron Fike , Bobby East , Craig Dollansky , Matt Westfall , Aaron Pierce , P.J. Chesson , Shane Cottle , Shane Hollingsworth , Chuck Gurney Jr. , Scott Hatton , R.J. Johnson