Hawksworth: “I wouldn’t say it was crazy; it was exciting”

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MILWAUKEE – It seems that opinions about Saturday’s MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. is running along mostly generational lines, in terms of driver takes.

Those who raced in the 1990s and early 2000s, with higher horsepower and lesser downforce cars didn’t seem to like it as much and have been quick to criticize, while the newer wave of drivers who have entered in the last four or five years (with some exceptions) found it thrilling.

One driver who had more of a front row seat to the race than most was Jack Hawksworth, driver of the No. 41 ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt Racing Honda, who tended to agree with his team boss in that excitement topped nerves as he was close to the front of the pack, but not immediately in it on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t say it was crazy. It was exciting I think,” Hawksworth told MotorSportsTalk in an interview on Tuesday. “There was a lot going on; granted, I would have been like to been in the thick of it a bit more. I was at the back end of it.

“But I thought the racing was good. It was close, right? Everyone was going and pushing hard. The crazy thing was only when people made crazy moves with 70 laps to go still, when everyone’s that close. It doesn’t matter with 50 or 70 to go. Doing some do-or-die stuff early on, that was strange.”

Hawksworth ended 10th on the day. He said he never felt the action too scary at any one point.

He also made the point that the potential of heavy, scary freak accidents is not limited to high-speed ovals.

“I never thought it was too bad; they raced worse than this for like 10 years with the old car, right?” he said.

“I think you have certain drivers and teams who would like it to be a certain way, because it gives them more an advantage.

“If it’s ‘pack racing,’ then everybody is very close and anything can happen, or certainly it gives everyone a shot… you don’t know what will happen ’til the end.

“If you take the downforce off the cars, and it’s single-file, and the fastest car goes to the front and pulls away, it’s not as exciting. If you’re one of those guys who thinks they could run off into the distance, you’d probably be against it in my opinion.

“I don’t understand how it can be super dangerous now, but yet they raced the old car four-wide every single week for God knows how long, right?

“Obviously the Las Vegas incident was horrific, but racing is inherently dangerous. A freak accident can happen in any condition. It doesn’t need to be ‘pack racing’ to cause it.”

Words spoken like a driver more mature beyond his 24 years, and who currently races for one of America’s all-time badasses, in A.J. Foyt.

The excitement helped produce a higher TV number on NBCSN and, from Hawksworth’s perspective, a more interesting race.

“The big thing for me was reaction to people who watched the race was exciting, which is a good thing, right? That’s my opinion,” he said.

“If people thought it was exciting, the racing was good… let’s be honest, it was much more exciting to watch than Texas. Yeah, the incident at the end was unfortunate, but I thought the race was exciting.”

Christopher Bell survives caution-filled Chili Bowl Prelim

TeeJay Crawford
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Christopher Bell survived the most caution-filled Feature of the week to win Thursday’s preliminary night at the 33rd Annual Chili Bowl. His ability to hold the lead on restarts helped lock Bell into his seventh Saturday A-Feature since 2013.

“I pretty much suck on restarts. I do better when I get into a rhythm,” said Christopher Bell on twitter.

Bell started the feature in third place behind Danny Stratton and Jerry Coons Jr. He took the lead on the first official lap of the race, but not until after two Lap 1 cautions.

The Oklahoma native held the lead through the remaining 24 laps and eight cautions until being challenged by Shane Golobic and CJ Leary on the final laps. Golobic briefly made it past him though Turns 3 and 4 of the final lap. Bell regained control in 1 and 2 to claim the checkers.

“It was a lot busier than what I wanted them to be. Shane definitely made a race out of it and I hope the last four laps were a good show. It was a lot of fun … well it was fun because I won but if I hadn’t won it wouldn’t have been much fun,” Bell said regarding the final laps.

Golobic earned the second transfer into Saturday’s A-Main after starting to the outside of Bell.

Leary completed the podium with the pole sitter Stratton finished fourth.

Josh Most battled through the B after a hard crash in his heat. He rebounded to transfer to the A and drove from 22nd to fifth.

With the throng of cautions at the start and finish of the race, the goal quickly became survival. Only 15 of 24 entries completed the full feature. Notable DNF’s included Ryan Bernal who started fifth, Coons, who started on the front row and Thomas Meseraull in 15th.

NASCAR’s Justin Allgaier finished 13th and will have a long day ahead of him on Saturday.

Friday Jan. 18 will be the final Qualifying night for the 33rd annual Chili Bowl Nationals.

MORE: Rico Abreu wins Chili Bowl Night 3 
MORE: Kyle Larson wins Chili Bowl Night 2

Thursday’s Results

1. Christopher Bell
2. Shane Golobic
3. CJ Leary
4. Danny Stratton
5. Josh Most
6. Austin Brown
7. Tracy Hines
8. Casey Shuman
9. Kyle Cummins
10. Andrew Felker
11. Austin O’Dell
12. Seth Carlson
13. Justin Allgaier
14. Chase Johnson
15. Johnny Herrera
16. Ryan Bernal
17. Jerry Coons Jr.
18. Matt Sherrell
19. Thomas Meseraull
20. Jake Morgan
21. Andrew Deal
22. Kevin Bayer
23. Kaleb Currie
24. Joe B. Miller