Photo: Chili Bowl

Bell, NASCAR stars dominate Thursday prelims at Chili Bowl

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Christopher Bell dominated Thursday night’s preliminary feature ahead of Saturday’s Chili Bowl, in a flag-to-flag race win.

Bell started from pole in the 25-lap feature at River Spirit Expo Center at Tulsa’s Expo Square and led the rest of the way, even despite a flurry of cautions and a wealth of action behind him. Bell, who won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora last year, earns a spot in Saturday night’s 55-lap feature.

Short track veteran Jerry Coons Jr. drove from 10th on the grid to second to make it to his 13th straight consecutive Chili Bowl final, while Shane Cottle grabbed third place from C.J. Leary on the final lap. Both of those two raced their way into the main event on Saturday.

Beyond Bell, fellow NASCAR drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier and Tanner Berryhill all made the A Main. Stenhouse finished best of those three, finishing sixth after starting 13th.

NASCAR TIES: Allgaier, Stenhouse Jr., Berryhill and Bell all won in their respective eight-lap heat races. … Allgaier and Bell then proceeded to finish 1-2 in the second of four 10-lap qualifying races, while Berryhill and Stenhouse were 2-3 in the third to advance to the A Main.

NOTABLE: IndyCar owner Sarah Fisher finished sixth, and sports car veteran Chris Dyson fifth, in their respective heat races. … Both Dyson and Fisher then ended sixth in the first and second C Mains. Another competitor punted Dyson, while Fisher was reportedly behind two cars that tangled at the finish; Kip Hughes and Mark Chisholm both flipped but were OK. … Brady Bacon, a past driver for Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart, finished fifth in his qualifying race and second in the second B Main, by just 0.03 of a second to Justin Peck. … Short track veteran and 2005 Chili Bowl winner Tracy Hines captured a win in the fourth qualifying race.

NEXT: Friday’s qualifying races mark the last day of action before the Saturday feature race. Those of note set to run include Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne, short track veterans Bryan Clauson, Dave Darland, Daryn Pittman, Cory Kruseman, John Heydenreich, Damion Gardner and Jac Haudenschild, 2006 Chili Bowl winner Tim McCreadie, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Chad Boat and IndyCar crew member Anton Julian, among others. A full list is here.


FEATURE RACE RESULTS:

1-71-Christopher Bell
2-5-Jerry Coons Jr.
3-71X-Shane Cottle
4-2A-C.J. Leary
5-24-Tracy Hines
6-17R-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
7-5X-Justin Peck
8-38-Justin Grant
9-3B-Joe B. Miller
10-17H-Harli White
11-15D-Andrew Deal
12-76M-Brady Bacon
13-29S-Anthony Nocella
14-05S-Dominic Scelzi
15-17M-Paul McMahan
16-27H-Tanner Berryhill
17-47-Danny Stratton
18-7JA-Justin Allgaier
19-37B-Jake Blackhurst
20-37-Seth Bergman
21-7A-Scott Weir
22-56J-Sheldon Haudenschild
23-7XX-Gage Walker
24-91K-Kevin Bayer

Full results from Thursday’s races

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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