Six first-time winners in 2021 Tulsa Shootout, Christopher Bell second

2021 Tulsa Shootout winners
TulsaShootout.com, David Campbell
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There were six first-time winners in the 2021 Tulsa Shootout representing six states with one driver winning two Golden Drillers. Christopher Bell finished second in one of the seven A-Mains and outside the top five in two other races.

New winners dominated the night as some big names settled for second.

California’s Mitchel Moles took the lead with four laps remaining in the 55-lap Winged Outlaw race to earn his first Golden Driller in a controversial race. Moles and second-place Jonathan Beason battled Joe B. Miller for the lead on Lap 43 with Beason winning the war for the time being. When a caution waved on Lap 51 for debris, however, Beason was penalized two positions for jumping a restart.

“My thoughts on the ruling, I broke a rule I didn’t know,” Beason said in a tweet after the race. “People were pulling out of line all weeks on restarts, and when Joe B didn’t go I had a split decision to keep from running into and also not getting run over from behind, I even lifted once I was next to him to not make it as blatant.

“I’ll accept it but would like to know how a guy can drive thru the infield and improve his position, and I can’t even begin to make a pass for position. Seems like the racing is being taking out of racing.”

It was the second consecutive year in which Beason finished second.

Miller fell back to fifth at the checkers. Other notables in the race included Tyler Courtney in third, Kevin Thomas Jr. in fifth, Brady Bacon in eighth, and Jason McDougal 17th.

STRONG START FOR CHAMPIONS: The 2021 Tulsa Shootout showcased several champions

The most successful driver of the night was Brian Carber, a Pennsylvania native. He won two star-filled A-Mains by bettering Courtney in the A-Class and Christopher Bell in Stock Non-Wing. He came close to adding a third Golden Driller in the Non-Wing Outlaw class, but Oklahoma’s Kris Carroll surprised him for the win.

In the A-Class feature, the best Bell could do was sixth after losing three positions in the 30-lap race. He also finished sixth in the Non-Wing Outlaw race but was forced to overcome a 24th-place gridding in that event.

Three other first-time winners were crowned in the 600 cc Modifieds with Mason Keefer (Arizona), Junior Sprints with Lucas Mauldin (California) and Restricted A with Jaxton Wiggs (Illinois).

The Chili Bowl Nationals resume action is six days with the premier midget race of the season.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.