Hines hustles to Thursday qualifier victory

Hines Hustles to Love's Thursday Chili Bowl Qualifier Victory By: Lonnie Wheatley TULSA, Okla. (January 6, 2005) -- Tracy Hines notched his second career O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals preliminary feature victory by topping Thursday...

Hines Hustles to Love's Thursday Chili Bowl Qualifier Victory
By: Lonnie Wheatley

TULSA, Okla. (January 6, 2005) -- Tracy Hines notched his second career O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals preliminary feature victory by topping Thursday night's 25-lap Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores qualifying feature at Tulsa Expo Raceway.

Hines gunned into the lead from his pole starting position at the outset and led all the way, racing to the checkered flag in convincing fashion ahead of Bud Kaeding, Tony Stewart and Gary Wright. Those four locked themselves into Saturday night's Chili Bowl finale along with Josh Ford, Chad DeSelle, Danny Lasoski and Casey Shuman, the top four finishers from Wednesday night's Creek Nation Casino Qualifying Showdown.

Four more will be locked into Saturday's main from Friday night's qualifying event, which will feature approximately 90 entries.

Hines earned the pole position for Thursday's feature by racing from fifth to win the fifth of the evening's eleven heat races. Hines led the way to the green flag with California shoe Bud Kaeding alongside, as Texan Gary Wright and Late Model ace Bart Hartman made up the second row.

Hines jumped into the early lead and quickly set the tone for the race as he slipped away from Kaeding, who was busy fending off Wright and Shuman for the runner-up slot. Hines held nearly a straightaway advantage by the time lapped traffic came into play on the ninth round, only to once again see clear track when the caution flew for Ryan Hamilton's disabled mount in turn two.

Hines took off again on the restart, reestablishing his sturdy lead in short order. Wright briefly overtook Kaeding for second on the tenth round, only to have Kaeding return the favor the next time around. Two circuits later, Stewart slipped past Wright to take over third.

After a lap 16 caution for Steve Knepper's stalled racer, Kaeding and Stewart had one last chance to nab the victory from Hines when the race's final caution flew on lap 22 for a three-car tangle in turn two that eliminated A.J. Fike. Hines was up to the task however, piloting the Mopar-powered Wilke-Pak Motorsports Guts Wear No. 11 Spike Chassis to the checkered flag unchallenged.

Kaeding fought off NASCAR star and 2002 Chili Bowl winner Stewart to secure the runner-up slot aboard Murray Erickson's Pink-powered Budweiser Beast, while Stewart took the show position in Jerry Russell's Mopar-powered Bass Pro Shops Eagle.

Ray Bull tried to snatch the final transfer to Saturday's main from Wright in the final rounds, but Wright held firm to lock the Pink Chevy-powered Wright One Construction No. 35w Beast into the Chili Bowl championship feature.

Bull settled for fifth, with Rich Camfield, 13th-starter Eric Wilkins, 15th-starter Tim McCreadie, Kraig Kinser and 18th-starter Critter Malone completing the top ten.

Kinser kicked off the night by collecting a checkered flag in his first taste of Chili Bowl action by topping the first heat race, with other heat race winners for the 78-car field including Kaeding, Steve Knepper, Wally Pankratz, Hines, Hamilton, McCreadie, Gary Taylor, Fike, Wright and Malone.

Marc Dailey topped the "D" Main, with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Jesse Hockett splitting victory honors in the twin "C" Mains. Twin "B" Main victories were snared by Taylor and Malone.

The worst of the evening's tumbles was LeRoy VanConett's series of barrel rolls down the front stretch in hot laps. The 70-year-old VanConett suffered a broken arm, bringing an early end to his first Chili Bowl.

Other flip victims included Johnny Cofer, Thomas Meseraull, Kenny Brown, Joe Park and Michael Lewis. There were no other injuries.

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Series Midget
Drivers Tony Stewart , Danny Lasoski , Michael Lewis , Tracy Hines , Bud Kaeding , A.J. Fike , Murray Erickson , Wally Pankratz , Kraig Kinser , Kenny Brown , Marc Dailey , Steve Knepper , Chad DeSelle , Ryan Hamilton , Ray Bull , Tim McCreadie , Rich Camfield , Casey Shuman , Thomas Meseraull , Gary Taylor