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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

Fernando Alonso will decide this summer whether to pursue F1 again

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Fernando Alonso said he will determine by this summer if he would consider a return to Formula One next season.

After announcing Tuesday that he will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May with Arrow McLaren Racing SP, Alonso said “right now the Indy 500 will take all of my concentration” but left the door open for F1 in 2021.

“In my case, probably during the summer period, I’ll make a decision on 2021 if Formula One is still appealing to me,” Alonso told IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview (watch the video above). “The 2021 rules (in F1) are definitely a step forward, and hopefully things can be more mixed and not only three teams capable of winning races. So all this factors into play. I may consider that possibility.”

Alonso won consecutive Formula One championships in 2005-06 with Renault. He has 32 victories in an F1 career that started in 2001 and also includes stints at Ferrari and McLaren.

His last victory on the circuit was May 12, 2013 in Barcelona. He is winless in his most recent 110 starts, including the past 77 races with McLaren in 2015-18.

The Guardian recently reported that McLaren CEO Zak Brown said Alonso wouldn’t be returning to F1 with the team.

Alonso also told Diffey that returning to F1 from a two-season absence wouldn’t necessarily be linked to McLaren’s performance.

“I think they did well last year, and hopefully they make another step forward and close to the top three because they deserve it and are a fantastic team,” he said.

Though he is optimistic about more parity, Alonso said six-time champion Lewis Hamilton should be a favorite for the 2020 title based on preseason testing in which Mercedes turned heads with a new steering system.

“It seemed Mercedes is still quite competitive,” Alonso said. “They show enormous potential on the development side and on the progress from one year to next. Formula One is impossible to predict because many things happen in season.

“At the starting point, (Mercedes) are the favorites. When you have Lewis in the car and Mercedes with the potential they have, they have to be No. 1 probably.”