Ford wins Chili Bowl Wednesday qualifier

Ford Cashes in on Wednesday's Creek Nation Casino Chili Bowl Qualifier By: Lonnie Wheatley TULSA, Okla. (January 5, 2005) -- The 19th edition of the O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals kicked off at Tulsa Expo Raceway Wednesday night with ...

Ford Cashes in on Wednesday's Creek Nation Casino Chili Bowl Qualifier
By: Lonnie Wheatley

TULSA, Okla. (January 5, 2005) -- The 19th edition of the O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals kicked off at Tulsa Expo Raceway Wednesday night with California's Josh Ford scoring an impressive wire-to-wire triumph in the 25-lap Creek Nation Casino Qualifying Showdown.

Ford was chased to the line by Wisconsin shoe Chad DeSelle, Missouri's Danny Lasoski and Arizona's Casey Shuman, each of whom locked themselves into Saturday night's 50-lap O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals championship main event.

"I was just two laps away from my first USAC Sprint win here at Tulsa Fairground Motorplex in September and I cut a tire and lost that race, so I guess Tulsa just paid me back," Ford quipped afterward. "Man, Keith (Kunz) and those guys gave me a great car, that thing was awesome."

"This plaque means a lot to me, it's the biggest thing I've won. Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby are so on and as long as I stay focused, I just seem to keep doing better and better. We'll have a good chance on Saturday night but there's gonna be a lot of good guys, if it works your way you might get it. But as he (Danny Lasoski) knows sometimes it doesn't work your way and you might end up second or third, we all want that Golden Driller so we're gonna give it all we've got," Ford concluded.

Ford earned the pole position for Wednesday night's Creek Nation Casino Qualifying Showdown by virtue of racing from seventh to win the third of the evening's dozen heat races. Ford was joined on the front row by ninth heat race winner Mike Welker as Steve Buckwalter and Dustin Morgan made up the second row.

Ford outgunned Welker at the drop of the green and led fifth-starter Jon Stanbrough, seventh-starter DeSelle and Buckwalter across the stripe to complete the first lap. The caution flew moments later when Welker looped his mount in turn two, collecting several cars in the process. On the ensuing restart, Welker toppled his mount in the same corner, bringing an early end to his night.

Ford set the pace on the restart with Stanbrough and DeSelle dicing for the second position just three car-lengths back. DeSelle soon took command of second from Stanbrough while Buckwalter and Brandon Waelti vied for fourth.

After a lap seven caution for a three-car tangle involving Sparky Howard, Levi Jones and Critter Malone, Waelti's strong run was cut short when he spun down the front stretch after making contact with Stanbrough as the pair raced for fourth.

The final 18 rounds were run in non-stop fashion, with Ford piloting the Keith Kunz-owned Esslinger-powered No. 73 Vital Express/Temecula Valley Pipe Supply Bullet flawlessly to capture the biggest win of his young career.

After earning 2004 Chili Bowl Wildcard Award honors, DeSelle held second the rest of the way to lock himself into Saturday's finale aboard James Fiscus' Esslinger-powered RFS Advanced Fastening System No. 6d Buzzard.

Meanwhile, Lasoski had advanced from his twelfth starting position into sixth by the final caution on lap seven, then had moved up to fourth by the tenth lap. Lasoski then put the pressure on young Shuman, who had taken over third on the ninth round after starting the feature in ninth.

Lasoski's persistence paid off as he snared the show position aboard Jerry Russell's Mopar-powered Bass Pro Shops No. 20L on the 23rd lap, with Shuman keeping A.J. Felker's Pontiac-powered Main Street Billiards/Pro Shocks No. 37x Stealth in the final transfer position to Saturday's main event.

Stanbrough settled for a fifth place finish, with Paul White racing from 17th to claim sixth. Buckwalter crossed the line in seventh, with veteran Chili Bowl prankster Kevin Olson racing from 23rd to snare eighth. Mike Spencer was ninth, with Cole Carter completing the top ten.

Heat race winners for Wednesday night's 83-car field included Tyler Brown, Stanbrough, Ford, Carter, Buckwalter, Shuman, Spencer, Joey Montgomery, Welker, Nick Lundgreen, Waelti and Dan Boorse. J.J. Yeley topped the 10-lap D Main, with Cody Weisensel and Bob Harr claiming victory honors in the twin "C" Mains. White and Montgomery were both victorious in "B" Main action.

After winning the night's twelfth heat race, two-time Chili Bowl winner Boorse exited the feature after 14 rounds with a cut right front tire.J J Yeley, who suffered a broken radius rod in his heat race, struggled in his "C" Main after the "D" Main triumph and exited before the checkered flag. Yeley, who advanced 69 positions by racing from an "F" Feature to third in the 2004 edition of the O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, will find himself mired deep in the alphabet soup of Saturday's features for the third year in a row.

There were in excess of a dozen flip victims in Wednesday's action, with R.J. Johnson, Zach Chappell and Matt Michaels taking the wildest of the rides. There were no injuries.

The five-lap Scott Performance Wire/Rocket Chassis Late Model Chili Bowl Challenge featuring Rick Eckert, Bart Hartman, Tim McCreadie and Jeep Van Wormer was postponed to Friday night due to time constraints.

See results Wednesday qualifier results

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Series Midget
Drivers Rick Eckert , Danny Lasoski , J.J. Yeley , Levi Jones , Paul White , Nick Lundgreen , Cole Carter , Chad DeSelle , Brandon Waelti , Josh Ford , Dustin Morgan , Tim McCreadie , Mike Spencer , R.J. Johnson , Casey Shuman