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Kyle Larson wins Chili Bowl Night 2 over field of champions

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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.

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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

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

Ker Robertson/Getty Images
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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?