Photos courtesy Patrick Grant Photography

Dig In: 31st annual Chili Bowl ready to feed winter hunger for speed, action in Tulsa

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There’s no beans, meat, green peppers or hot sauce in this Chili Bowl.

But the menu of action will still be plenty spicy to leave fans who attend the 31st Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma hungry for more over the next five nights, starting with Tuesday’s opening round of qualifying (practice takes place Monday).

Action continues Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and culminates with the A Main final event on Saturday night at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds River Spirit Expo Center.

A record 400-plus teams and nearly 55 drivers are entered in the event that is the Super Bowl of indoor Midget racing on a quarter-mile indoor track.

Budding NASCAR star Rico Abreu, who completed his first full season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2016, is the two-time defending champ of the Chili Bowl and is looking to make it three in a row this year.

Abreu is hoping to close in on Kevin Swindell’s Chili Bowl record of four consecutive wins from 2010 through 2013.

Other NASCAR drivers that are entered for the event include Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier, J.J. Yeley and Chase Briscoe (K&N Pro Series).

Some of the other notable short-track veteran other key names entered include Sammy Swindell, Davey Hamilton Jr., Paul McMahan, Jerry Coons Jr., Dave Darland, Donny Schatz (a Chili Bowl rookie), Chris Dyson, Joey Saldana, Daryn Pittman, Cory Kruseman, Kody Swanson, Kyle O’Gara, Damion Gardner, Jac Haudenschild and Chad Boat, among others.

A full entry list is linked here.

holly-shelton

One of the biggest storylines for fans to keep an eye on is 21-year-old Toyota-sponsored driver Holly Shelton, who is seeking to become the first woman in history to reach Saturday’s A Main feature.

Shelton (pictured) also hopes to become the first female driver to reach the B semifinal round since Bev Griffis did so 28 years ago in 1989.

Shelton finished in the top 10 in both the USAC and POWRi national Midget Series standings last season.

Two years ago, at the age of 19, Shelton defeated both Larson and Stenhouse in a Winged Outlaw Kart race at CycleLand Speedway in Sacramento, California.

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Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.