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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Here’s what drivers said after Sunday’s INDYCAR race was postponed until Monday

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Here’s what several drenched drivers had to say after Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was postponed until Monday morning (11:30 a.m. ET, LIVE on NBCSN):

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama winner, 2018 pole winner): “It’s tough because we have so many people that come out here to watch us. We want to put on a good race. We want to put on a show. So calling the race, running around behind the pace car not running, it’s tough, it’s tough to do that. But I think it was the right thing in the end. When we started the race, the conditions were OK. You could run at that level of rain. Then, it intensified right before that first caution. I think when the caution came out, it got to a point where it was just too much. There was too much puddling and pooling of water on every straightaway. Then the rivers started flowing, high-speed compressions in Turns 1 and 2, fast corner, 12 and 13, fast corner where the river starts to form. Just tough. I mean, look, we love racing in the rain. It’s got nothing to do with not wanting to run in the rain, not being able to do that. It’s that this type of track with this water level was too much to race today. We’ve run here in the rain before, but it intensified to the point where you’re starting to get in a situation where it’s going to take it out of the drivers’ hands. What happened with Will (Power), I don’t think is a driver error. I don’t know how anyone is going to drive hydroplaning on the front straightaway. I think you would have had that for the rest of the track, too. A tough situation. Thanks for the fans that came out and supported us. Hopefully we’ll get some people back tomorrow and we’ll get the show in and put on a great event.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
“Tough day so far. We had some problems with our radio and fuel alarm, but otherwise the car was alright. It was just too dangerous out there, we couldn’t see anything, so I think they made the right call. Hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It’s just a real shame for everyone on the Verizon Chevy team. The car was good and we were doing our best out there, but it was really hard to see anything in front of me. The conditions were just so bad. As soon as I got to the frontstraight, the car just came around, and I tried to keep it off the wall, but it was hydroplaning and there was nothing I could do. I feel bad for the team and for the fans in this weather. Just too bad. Hopefully our luck can turn around when we get to Indianapolis.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Very difficult day for us. In the race we were 13th at the time and we had some electrical issues, so that caused us to pit and we lost a lap. Not the ideal situation, but we don’t give up. There’s still a race tomorrow and we’re going to go for the most points. Anything can happen.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “It was a tough beginning, but when we kind of got going it was OK and kind of fun to challenge for a while, but visibility was a major issue today, no doubt. I’m glad that the series postponed it. I would have like to get it in today, but that’s life. We will go racing tomorrow.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Kerauno / MilitaryToMotorsports.com Honda, Verizon IndyCar Series points leader): “I think definitely the right decision was made to red flag the race. It’s a very difficult position for everyone to be in. It’s never the result that you want, but safety is obviously a priority. I think everyone did a good job considering the conditions of looking out for each other. Not being able to see is not doing anybody any good. It is hard for everyone, but glad that we’re all in one piece and try again later.

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “As you could see on TV, if you couldn’t see the car, it was probably three times worse in the cockpit on the main straight or any straight. You had to completely trust the guys that they were accelerating. Never the less, I made good progress on the short stint and I made up a few positions.  The car was working well, but also was aquaplaning a lot, too, so I have to respect INDYCAR’s decision for everyone’s safety. Now we really need to concentrate on having a good car for tomorrow. I’m sorry for the fans that sat in rain all day, but thank them for their support.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 Binderholz tiptop timber Chevrolet): “It was a short day. In the beginning the conditions were not that good, but afterwards the conditions started to improve. The race was stopped, then restarted, and I think the conditions were not too bad at that point. Unfortunately, it was red flagged again and then cancelled for the day. It would have been nice to get halfway, but we will come back and try again tomorrow.”