Tony Stewart Racing Chili Bowl Nationals preview

Tony Stewart Racing's Triple Threat Gears Up For Chili Bowl Midget Nationals; Tony Stewart Racing, Chevy Ready for a Return to the Dirt INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 13, 2009) -- For Tony Stewart Racing (TSR), the journey to Tulsa, Okla., for the biggest...

Tony Stewart Racing's Triple Threat Gears Up For Chili Bowl Midget Nationals; Tony Stewart Racing, Chevy Ready for a Return to the Dirt

INDIANAPOLIS (Jan. 13, 2009) -- For Tony Stewart Racing (TSR), the journey to Tulsa, Okla., for the biggest Midget race of the year has always signaled the start of new beginnings. When owner Tony Stewart made the decision to bring his operation to the Tulsa Expo Center for the first time in TSR's history two years ago, the team made history as it took home the Golden Driller with newly signed Chevy as a sponsor and engine provider. Having set the bar high in 2007, TSR's trio of drivers is now regarded as a constant threat to bring home its fourth Chili Bowl victory.

This year's 23rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, which kick off Tuesday inside the typically fan-packed confines of the Tulsa Expo Center, will see drivers Levi Jones, Tracy Hines and Josh Richards take to the track in search of TSR's fourth triumph of the decade. Touted as a team to watch, Jones, Hines and Richards will compete on the quarter-mile, dirt oval in the hopes of taking Saturday night's checkered flag in front of SPEED-TV's cameras.

Jones will drive the No. 20/TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Armor All entry this week. A two-time USAC National Sprint Car Series champion, Jones returns to start his fourth season with TSR. In his last appearance at the Tulsa Expo Center in 2008, Jones ran as high as the top-10 before finishing 11th in Saturday night's finale.

Hines will return to the seat of the No. 21 TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Armor All machine this week. The 2005 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals winner will begin his third year of racing as part of TSR's USAC Racing team. In last year's Chili Bowl Midget Nationals A-main, Hines battled to a ninth-place finish.

Late Model ace Richards is set to make his fourth career Chili Bowl Midget Nationals appearance this week as he'll again join the TSR team behind the wheel of the No. 20R/TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Armor All entry. Richards wrapped up the 2008 event with a 14th-place finish in the first D-main during the final night of racing. The 2005 World of Outlaws Late Model Series Rookie of the Year will look to make his first career Chili Bowl Midget Nationals A-main start.

The TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Armor All team of Jones, Hines and Richards represents one of the notable power teams entered in this year's Chili Bowl Midget Nationals. Combined with Stewart's accomplishments, the team has earned three Chili Bowl Midget Nationals titles, two NASCAR championships, one Indy Racing League (IRL) championship and eight USAC National Series titles.

Levi Jones, driver of the No. 20 TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Armor All/Spike

With the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals set to be broadcast on SPEED, are you excited about the continued growth of the event?

"When we found out that it was going to be broadcast on SPEED, we were really excited about having an opportunity to showcase our sport to such a diverse audience. Emmett Hahn and his staff realize the importance of television and getting our sport in front of another group of potential fans. The broadcast, even tape-delayed, is a great way to promote open-wheel racing and hopefully we'll come away from the event with a new audience."

What makes the Chili Bowl such a unique event?

"With all of the different types of racing represented at the Chili Bowl, it's a lot of fun to be a part of this event. It seems like everyone and anyone in racing attends or competes in this event and the atmosphere just really makes it a lot of fun. You race in your preliminary night and you know you're going to race Saturday night, but there's a lot that goes on in-between. It's also nice to get to spend a week with Tony (Stewart, team owner) and our sponsors. The event presents a really fun environment and gives us an opportunity to get our season started again."

Josh Richards, driver of the No. 20R TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Armor All/Spike

With the experience of three Chili Bowl Midget National events to your credit, are you more relaxed heading into this year's race?

"I am a lot more relaxed than I have been in years past. I know what to expect as the week progresses. Our performance wasn't as good as we'd hoped for last year, but I've worked to make sure I'm as ready as possible for this year's race. I've spent a lot of time watching tapes of past Chili Bowl events and I learned quite a bit from studying that material. I also went out to California to attend Cory Kruseman's driving school and I was able to get a lot of seat time in relatively close to the event. I know we're going to have a good car again this year and I think we're going to have a good chance to do very well this week."

Are you looking forward to being part of the Tony Stewart Racing/Chevy team once again this year?

"I'm really excited about competing as part of TSR again. Competing with a team that has several talented drivers and great cars is really a great opportunity for me. I'm very thankful that Tony (Stewart, team owner) asked me to be a part of his team again this year. I really enjoyed working with everyone from Chevy and TSR last year and I'm looking forward to this week's race."

Tracy Hines, driver of the No. 21 TSR/Chevy/Bass Pro Shops/Armor All/Spike

Having won the 2005 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, you know what it takes to win in Tulsa. What's your strategy as you head into this week's race?

"This race is about 75 percent luck and 25 percent other variables. Our strategy consists of being on our toes and anticipating anything that can happen. At the Chili Bowl, the fastest car doesn't necessarily get the win. Every position is important. Ideally, you want to start in the back of your heat race and pass a lot of cars. You want to earn as many passing points as possible with the way the event is formatted. Having a lot of luck fall your way is a good thing at the Chili Bowl and I'm confident we're going to be ready for anything that we might encounter."

Do you think that Tony Stewart Racing has a good chance of bringing the Golden Driller back to Indiana once again this year?

"I really think we do. We've got three good cars, the guys have put a lot of time in the shop preparing for this week, and that's going to be a big advantage. Having some experience is a benefit in this situation. Also, it's been a few years since a TSR driver won the Chili Bowl and that always makes us a little hungrier to get another win. We'll just have to see if we can have some luck fall our way this week."

-credit: tsr

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Series Midget
Drivers Tony Stewart , Tracy Hines , Cory Kruseman , Levi Jones , Josh Richards