Jerry Coons, Jr. takes Thursday win at Chili Bowl; IndyCar’s Sarah Fisher 6th in C-Main

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Three more tickets have been punched to Saturday’s main event at the 29th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Jerry Coons, Jr. pulled away on the final restart of Thursday’s A-Feature to claim his third Chili Bowl preliminary night win and notch his 12th consecutive berth in the finale of midget racing’s biggest event.

Joining Coons in Saturday’s money show will be runner-up Andrew Deal (+ 2.2 seconds) and third-place finisher Kevin Swindell, himself a four-time Chili Bowl champion.

Coons started from third and on Lap 7 of 25, he assumed the lead. An incident involving Tracy Hines slowed the field down at Lap 14, but Coons nailed the restart and went on to take the checkered flag.

“In any preliminary night, it’s hard enough to run in the top-three, certainly hard enough to win,” Coons said in a release. “Everything has got to go your way, which it did tonight.

“From our Heat, to our Qualifier, everything went right. The reason we celebrate pretty good on preliminary nights is because it’s still a big win.”

Swindell had a trying time in getting to the podium on Thursday, but was able to persevere.

His air box became dislodged in his opening heat race, and he subsequently had to get to the A-Feature via a win in one of the two B-Features.

Then, in the A, he was caught in a Lap 2 pileup that involved 10 cars. Swindell had to visit the work area for a tire change and restarted at the back of the field. Undaunted, he raced his way back toward the front before taking third place from Ryan Bernal on Lap 24.

“I was able to get around the bottom pretty good,” Swindell said in his own thoughts. “I think most of the guys couldn’t and didn’t really try. I had the seas part a couple of times to get a few of them and I guess I had to really work past Bernal at the end.”

Coons, Deal, and Swindell join Night 1 transfers Kyle Larson, Brad Loyet, and Spencer Bayston, plus Night 2 transfers Rico Abreu, Chris Windom, and J.J. Yeley, in Saturday’s main event.

Also among the 80 cars that competed Thursday at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa was the one that belonged to Verizon IndyCar Series team owner and former midget racer Sarah Fisher.

Fisher, who co-owns IndyCar’s CFH Racing with Ed Carpenter, came from sixth on the grid to win the first of two D-Feature races and advance to the C-Feature.

There, Fisher climbed from 13th to a sixth-place finish, but that was not enough to keep her night going as she finished two spots out of transfer position.

The Chili Bowl continues tonight with Vacuworx Global Qualifying Night starting at 6:45 p.m. ET.

Helio Castroneves will replace ailing Oliver Askew for IndyCar at IMS

Helio Castroneves replacing Askew
James Black/IndyCar
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Helio Castroneves will return to the NTT IndyCar Series next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, replacing Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew in the No. 7 Dallara- Chevrolet.

The team announced in a Thursday release that Askew wasn’t cleared by the IndyCar medical team after reporting “a balance and coordination issue” after the Sept. 12-13 race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Associated Press’ Jenna Fryer reported that Askew has been experiencing the concussion-like symptoms since his Aug. 23 wreck in the Indy 500.

Askew was placed in IndyCar’s Return to Racing Protocol. The rookie has endured an up-and-down season, suffering another hard crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the July 4 race on the road course. He also finished third and sixth on back-to-back races at Iowa Speedway in July.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors,” Askew said in the release. “My priority right now is focusing on my health. Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Castroneves will be driving this weekend at Mid-Ohio for Team Penske in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner has said he actively is seeking a ride for the 2021 season in IndyCar or IMSA with the demise of Penske’s DPi program as Acura switches to new teams next year.

Here’s the release from Arrow McLaren SP:

Arrow McLaren SP driver Oliver Askew will withdraw from the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix, after being declared not fit to drive by the INDYCAR Medical Team.

Following the INDYCAR race at Mid-Ohio, Oliver reported a balance and coordination issue, which triggered an examination from the INDYCAR Medical Team. As a result, Oliver is not medically cleared to race and is subject to INDYCAR’s Return to Racing Protocol.

“This was an incredibly tough call but I have to follow the advice of the INDYCAR Medical Team and my doctors. My priority right now is focusing on my health,” Askew said. “Despite not being in the car, I will be at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Harvest GP, giving whatever insight and support to Arrow McLaren SP that I can.”

Askew will be replaced in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet by Helio Castroneves for the upcoming doubleheader Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

“The welfare of Oliver, our team members and fellow competitors is paramount,” said Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt.

“We therefore support Oliver and the decision of INDYCAR. Withdrawing to focus on his health and recovery is the right thing to do.”

Helio will join Pato O’Ward, driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, to complete the team’s driver lineup in Indianapolis.

“First and foremost, we wish Oliver the best and that he is able to take time to recover,” said Helio. “I look forward to getting back on track and helping to build on the great progress that Arrow McLaren SP has made this year.”