Kyle Larson wins Chili Bowl Night 2 over field of champions

TeeJay Crawford
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Tuesday has traditionally been the start of racing at the Chili Bowl Nationals for the past 32 years, but with more than 300 cars entered in the 2019 edition, two drivers were already locked in from Monday’s action at the River Spirit Expo Center.

On Monday, Logan Seavey led flag to flag to win and lock into Saturday night’s finale. USAC Sprint car standout Brady Bacon finished second.

Tuesday night featured several drivers with a connection to NASCAR and it was Kyle Larson who took top honors over Zach Daum in the 25-lap A Main.

Tuesday was also a night filled with dirt car championships. Daum is a three-time POWRi National Midget Champion. Former ASCS Sprint car champion Sam Hafertepe Jr. also finished in the top five. The 2018 USAC Sprint Car champion Tyler Courtney finished sixth.

Daum led the field to green after racing from sixth to second in his qualifier. That made him the High Point Man for the evening. Daum kept Larson at bay for five laps before the NASCAR star hooked the highside and grabbed the lead going down the backstretch on Lap 6. Larson maintained his advantage during the final 20 laps – surviving two restarts in the process.

TeeJay Crawford

This was Larson’s fifth preliminary night win in the Chili Bowl. Larson joins Seavey as two drivers locked into Saturday’s show.

Jonathan Beason took the final spot on the podium after starting 10th with Michael Faccinto and Hafertepe rounding out the top five.

“That might be the second time I got Zach in a prelim night,” said Larson at ChiliBowl.com. “They worked the track before the feature so as the leader you just run the bottom until you hear somebody or see somebody. I was just able to get around him….It was just nice to get to the lead there and run a good pace, but I was hoping I would get a caution before I got close to traffic.”

Alex Bowman finished ninth with Tanner Berryhill 10th

Tuesday also featured the invitation only Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champion that included any Chili Bowl winning driver or driver that raced for a past Chili Bowl winning team. Past winners included Christopher Bell, Rico Abreu, Sammy Swindell, Tim McCreadie, John Heydenreich, and Damion Gardner.

Tanner Thorson passed Bernal on the start and led every lap to claim his second ROC victory, crossing under the checkers 1.710 ahead of the rest of the field.

Larson and Bell slipped around Bernal to stand on the podium. NASCAR driver JJ Yeley rounded out the top five.

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Tuesday’s Results

1. Kyle Larson
2. Zach Daum
3. Jonathan Beason
4. Michael Faccinto
5. Sam Hafertepe Jr.
6. Tyler Courtney
7. Dillon Welch
8. Jesse Colwell
9. Alex Bowman
10. Tanner Berryhill
11. Andrew Layser
12. Adam Pierson
13. Brody Roa
14. Tim Buckwalter
15. Kyle Jones
16. Blake Edwards
17. Tony Bruce Jr.
18. Frank Flud
19. Derek Hagar
20. Alex DeCamp
21. Brian Shirley
22. Tye Mihocko
23. Larry Wight
24. Jake Bubak

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
USACRacing.com / DB3 Inc.
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)