Ashton Torgerson describes what happened before and after terrifying Chili Bowl crash

Chili Bowl crash
Dan Beaver

TULSA, Oklahoma – Three days after being involved in a terrifying crash at the Chili Bowl, Ashton Torgerson and his father, Danny, met with reporters Saturday night at the SageNet Center media room.

Torgerson was hospitalized Wednesday night with bleeding in the brain. He was cleared Friday night to be released after undergoing multiple CT scans and tests. Though “a little sore,” the Medford, Oregon, native will fly home Sunday. In two weeks, he is scheduled to see a neurosurgeon at the Mayo Clinic.

Battling Kevin Thomas Jr. for seventh after starting second in his first midget race, Torgerson crashed on the backstretch and was thrown from the car. Danny Torgerson said nothing appeared to be wrong with his son’s safety gear before the crash.

“We know that when he went out the belts were tight,” Danny said. “We remember cinching them down at the track. Racing is dangerous and sometimes, unfortunately, things do happen. Anyone who says they know what happened, it’s 100% speculation and guess work.

“There will be time to take a better look at that and try to figure out what happened. I would never want what happened to him to happen to him or anybody, so we will definitely be working on trying to recreate what happened in the car and see if anything caught the belt to try and get some answers because we do need those answers.”

Ashton Torgerson has little memory of the crash. Among the first things he asked his family was where he was running at the time of the incident. He then asked “will they have my car ready for Saturday?” according to his father.

“I’m sorry for the scare there,” Ashton said. “All I can remember is the drop of the green flag. After that, I could not tell you what happened. Obviously, I was in a very bad wreck there. The next thing I remember was the ambulance – a tiny bit of the ambulance there. I got to the hospital, and they were checking me out asking me what hurts, and I told them my head and my face.”

After the race resumed, Rico Abreu tied a record with his eighth preliminary win and pledged his winnings to the Torgerson family. Abreu visited Torgerson at the hospital after his postrace interviews.

“Rico, he’s such a good guy,” Ashton said. “I was laying there and he walked in and set the trophy on the table and said the trophy was for me, and kept asking, ‘How is he? How’s he doing?’

“That means a lot to me. Rico didn’t have to do any of that.”

Thomas also checked in on Ashton after finishing fifth.

“You don’t realize how much the prayers mean until something like this happens,” Danny said. “I could say thank you for every hour for the rest of my life, and I don’t think it wouldn’t be enough. I told myself I wouldn’t get emotional. … Being able to sit next to my son today is beyond amazing. It’s not what I expected Wednesday night.”

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, whose Rowdy Energy Drink was sponsoring Torgerson this week, contacted the family the night of the crash and has remained in touch.

“Kyle Busch was one of the first ones to reach out,” Ashton said. “He messaged me right now. He keeps checking on me. He and Brexton keep asking how I’m doing.

“Brexton’s going to send me a card.”

Kyle Larson wins High Limit Sprint race at Tri-City Speedway ahead of Rico Abreu

Larson High Limit Tri-City
High Limit Sprint Car Series

A late race caution set up a 14-lap shootout at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Illinois with Kyle Larson winning his second consecutive High Limit Sprint Car Series race over Rico Abreu.

Starting eight on the grid after a disappointing pole dash, Larson missed several major incidents as he worked his way to the front. On Lap 1 of 35, a five-car accident claimed Tyler Courtney and Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, who both took a tumble and before collecting three other cars. Once that red flag was lifted, it didn’t take long for drivers to get tangled again as the leader Danny Dietrich experienced engine trouble on Lap 8. When he slowed rapidly, second-place Brent Marks collided with his back tire, ending the day for both.

Larson moved up to fourth with this incident.

Another red flag on Lap 21 for a flip involving Parker Price-Miller set up the dash for the win.

“My car felt really good and then we got that red,” Larson said from victory lane. “I was kind of running through the crumbs before that in 3 and 4; I could tell the top was getting really sketchy. Parker was making mistakes up there.

“When the red came out, I could see there was a clean lane of grip – not just marbles. It’s hard to see when you’re at speed. I figured Rico was going to run the top and he did. I got to his inside a couple of times and I was like ‘please don’t go to the bottom,’ and I threw a slider on him. Then he went to the bottom and I thought I was screwed until he spun his tires really bad off the corner and I was able to hit the top okay and get another run and slide him. I got good grip off the cushion.”

The victory makes Larson the first repeat winner in the series’ five-race history. He beat Justin Sanders earlier this month at Wayne County Speedway in Orrville, Ohio.

With 10 laps remaining, Larson caught and pressured Abreu. The two threw a series of sliders at one another until Abreu bobbled on the cushion and lost momentum.

“Anytime you race Rico and he’s on the wall like that, you have to get aggressive,” Larson said. “He’s pushing so hard that just to stay in the striking zone if he makes a mistake, you have to push hard too.”

For Abreu, it was his second near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps.

“I felt like I made a lot of mistakes at the end,” Abreu said. “It’s just hard to judge race pace. You’ve got Kyle behind you and [Anthony] Macri and these guys that have had speed all year long. I was racing as hard as I could and the mistake factor is more and more critical.”

Cory Eliason earned his career-best High Limit finish of third after starting deep in the field in 13th.

Macri lost one position during the race to finish fourth with Sam Hafertepe, Jr. rounding out the top five.

Visiting from the NASCAR Cup series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 19th in the 25-car field after advancing from the B-Main.

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway