Logan Seavey wins 2023 Chili Bowl after years of disappointment

Seavey Chili Bowl
Logan Seavey, Instagram

TULSA, Oklahoma – Logan Seavey hugged the bottom groove in the closing laps of the Chili Bowl and survived a green-white-checkered finish to win his first Golden Driller trophy in the race’s 37th running. He became the second first-time winner in the last two years, holding off the 2022 champion Tanner Thorson and Cannon McIntosh, another young driver looking for his first win.

In four previous A-Main appearances, he finished in the top five only once.

“I’ll let you know tomorrow [how it feels],” Seavey said after the race. “For right now, it feels awesome.

“It didn’t set in until I got the driller and I could talk to Kevin [Swindell] for a little bit. I’m just so happy to do it for Kevin. He deserves it and you know, he probably have a lot more, it wasn’t for his accident. It means a lot to win this race in general. But doing it in the No. 39 in our first Friday (in my preliminary night win) is really cool.”

Swindell sustained back and neck injuries in a crash in the 2015 Knoxville Nationals. Swindell owns four Golden Drillers as a driver, but this is his first as a car owner.

Seavey was challenged for the lead midway through the race when Oklahoma native McIntosh wrestled the top spot from him on Lap 21. Seavey was patient, knowing 55 laps on a quarter-mile track was long enough for him to catch McIntosh, and when a caution waved midrace, he had an opportunity to pounce and passed McIntosh for the final time on Lap 31.

Seavey’s previous best finish in four A-Mains was fourth in 2020.

Toward the end of the race, the track glazed over and took a lot of rubber, essentially turning it into a one-groove racetrack.

When asked on the podium what he needed to win, Thorson replied “a better racetrack,” after he was forced to run in Seavey’s tire tracks for most of the second half of the race.

“Did everybody’s car feel bad?,” Thorson asked winner Seavey and third-place McIntosh “Even the night I won, I felt terrible.”

Thorson locked into Saturday’s A-Main with a win in Thursday night’s qualification race.

With passing on the track made difficult by the conditions, Thorson’s only opportunity would have been to use his bumper to move Seavey out of the groove.

“I wasn’t going to dump him because I didn’t want to obviously wreck him – and I didn’t want to get sent to the back. But I got into the middle and caught a little bit of rubber and got a good run on him. I definitely got in the back when I was trying to get him up off the bottom to get underneath him.

“I got close to him one time and just tried that one time. Coming to the end, if I had another shot at him – no offense, Logan, but I probably would’ve done it again.”

Seavey jokingly replied he was surprised he didn’t try that maneuver more often.

While he failed to win his first Saturday Main, McIntosh kept a perfect record of top-five finishes alive with his podium finish, equaling a previous-best of . McIntosh tried to take the highline before the rubber came in, but each time he began to develop momentum, a caution waved.

“It’s frustrating, you know, after leading probably at least 10 laps there,” McIntosh said. “Getting the lead first, I got right to Logan on the bottom. I went to the top in [Turns] 3 and 4 and got right to him and I think he saw my nose or heard me and moved up in 1 and 2 and I hadn’t even tried it yet down there. He was able to make speed and we kind of went back and forth for a second. I don’t think he had figured out how low I was running in 3 and 4 yet and I was able to sneak by just kind of through the middle.

“I’m sure that’s when he started to make adjustments. I felt really good probably through in the middle of the race there – and when I got to traffic, I was just in a good rhythm and felt like I was in the zone.”

With the exception of Thorson, the remainder of the top five each scored or matched a career-best in the Chili Bowl.

Shane Golobic finished fourth after scoring a seventh in 2012, which was his only top-10 in nine A Mains.

Emerson Axsom rounded out the top five in his first appearance.

Rico Abreu was part of the battle for the top five in the early laps until he was pushed back in traffic on a late restart. His fortune turned worse on the final lap when he brought out the final caution of the night as the two leaders were exiting Turn 4.

Jade Avedisian, who was battling for a top-10 in the closing laps, lost ground at the end and finished 18th and won the first ever award for being the highest finishing female in the race. She was also the top rookie.

Chase Briscoe had the best night among current NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. He started seventh in one of two B-Mains and finished 10th.

Alex Bowman started the day’s events in the E-Main and finished fifth and advanced to the D. His day ended with a 17th-place finish there.

JJ Yeley finished 13th in the C-Main.

Carson Hocevar and Santino Ferrucci finished sixth in their G-Main, narrowly missing the advancement position of fifth.

Josh Bilicki finished 14th in the J-Main.

The 2023 Chili Bowl was also marked by a terrifying crash involving rookie Ashton Torgerson, who was thrown from his car in a crash Wednesday night. He suffered a head injury in the accident, but addressed the media on Saturday.

Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi bring their storied rivalry to a new level at Rolex 24

Ganassi Penske Rolex 24
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – To measure the impact of Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi squaring off for the first time in overall sports car wins (starting at the Rolex 24), look at the auto racing titans’ lineups.

There are 12 combined drivers across four entries representing Chip Ganassi Racing (competing as Cadillac Racing) and Team Penske (as Porsche Penske Motorsport) in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona.

And with the possible exception of six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, none of those behind the wheel is as famous and accomplished as the U.S. motorsports icons who will be sitting atop the pit stands at Daytona International Speedway.

In the NTT IndyCar Series, Penske and Ganassi are synonymous with success, having combined for 23 Indy 500 victories and 30 championships. They also competed in the NASCAR Cup Series for two decades with several signature wins for each.

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GTPRolex 24 at Daytona kicks off new golden era for sports cars

Until now, the rivalry never extended to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where they competed in different classes from 2018-19 and have competed in the top category in differing times over the years.

But the 2023 season opener at Daytona will mark the beginning of a new era in which Ganassi and Penske will compete for sports car overall victories on two continents. A Ganassi Cadillac Racing V-LMDh and Porsche Penske Motorsports Penske 963 will run full time in both the premier prototype divisions of IMSA and the European-based World Endurance Championship – whose crown jewel is the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Having two of the world’s biggest sports car races welcome the Ganassi-Penske battle seems only fitting in a season in which IMSA’s new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class is expected to introduce a stiffer level of competition.

“We obviously like beating each other,” Ganassi told NBC Sports. “I think if you beat Penske, you know you’ve beaten someone. You’ve accomplished something great. It’s going to be the same as always. Just another platform at another track, but the rivalry will be just as heated I’m sure.

“On one hand, he’s always the first guy to call us out for a penalty or something. On the other hand, he’s also the first guy to congratulate me on a win, so I think it’s a healthy rivalry, but we certainly pound each other’s heads into the ground on race day. Monday through Friday it switches to more of a good relationship.”

After starting his career in sports cars, Penske also is looking forward to having a new arena to race Ganassi.

“There is a lot of anticipation and excitement about the Rolex 24 and the upcoming sports car season overall,” Penske said in a statement to NBC Sports statement. “With the new hybrid prototype formula ready to make its debut, and some great competition expected on the track between teams, drivers and manufacturers, there is a lot of momentum building right now. Porsche Penske Motorsport is excited to compete in both the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, as well as the FIA World Endurance Championship, this season and I can’t wait to see the No. 6 and No. 7 Porsche 963s in action at Daytona this weekend. We also look forward to bringing some new rivalries and storylines to the sport.

Roger Penske confers with Chip Ganassi before the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto (Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images).

“In the new IMSA GTP class, there should be a good competitive balance between Porsche, Cadillac, Acura and BMW. We have seen how the rivalry between Team Penske and Ganassi Racing has developed in the NTT IndyCar Series in recent years, and that could certainly extend to sports cars as our teams and drivers continue to develop the new formula and push the production on track in both IMSA and WEC. We will see how the competition plays out, starting this weekend, as we always enjoy racing against Chip and his teams.”

Though there have been some fiery moments over the years (Dario Franchitti vs. Will Power, anyone?), Ganassi vs. Penske mostly has been a story of respect between two organizations whose main strengths are people.

“It’s just the depth of the organizations going up against each other,” Ganassi said. “It’s not just he and I. It’s at every level of the organization.

“We’re smaller. I’d like to think we’re a little more nimble. This is all I do is race cars. I don’t have 200 car dealerships or a truck rental company or a transportation company. I just have racing is all I have.”

Heading into Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, here are the thoughts of Ganassi and Penske drivers in the Rolex 24 at Daytona:

Earl Bamber, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “When I grew up as a kid, I remember watching Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske battle each other for many years, obviously following Scott Dixon and his career in IndyCar (Bamber is a New Zealand native like Dixon). And when the opportunity came up to come and race for Chip, it’s a no-brainer. It’s one of those teams you want to drive for in the world. It’s one of the biggest and most successful teams in the world. And then we’ve got Porsche, where I used to drive, with Penske. It’s going to be a phenomenal rivalry over the next couple of years and that rivalry continues between two absolute legends of our sport. Two people who have been the most successful. I hope we can get Cadillac and Chip their first Le Mans win. That’s obviously the ultimate goal for us and beat his old rival, Roger.

“Those two powerhouses of the sport, they definitely raise the bar. You’ve seen it in IndyCar for years and years. One finds something and the next pushes it forward and forward. You’ll see the same in sports car racing. We all saw what Chip Ganassi Racing did back in the day with the GT program. So no doubt we can do the same again. It’s the ultimate highest level of motorsport when it comes to sports car racing, and there’ll be no stone unturned to make sure that we’re winning these races. It will be a really great fight, great for the fans and great for the sport, because both of them love winning.”

Dane Cameron, No. 6 Porsche Penske: “I think anytime you have Chip and Roger come to town to start fighting for wins, it raises the profile of the whole thing. Hopefully it brings a few more eyes to everything. Certainly brings a lot of expectation with it as well, and I also think it reflects really strongly on the championship to show how competitive it is. They respect the championship and challenge, but when they come to town, they come to win for sure.”

Scott Dixon, No. 01 Ganassi Cadillac: “The battle between Chip Ganassi Racing and Penske is always a fierce one. I obviously know it well from the IndyCar side. But I think it’s a lot more than that. It’s impressive to see a lot of the manufacturers that have come in for this battle. I imagine if it’s not from the first race but during the season that Penske and Ganassi will fight it out pretty hard.

“I think the rivalry between Chip Ganassi racing and Penske has always been strong and in a good way. There’s been some battles and the 2010s for me and other drivers when it gets fierce. Some disagreements here and there. But it’s always been a great pure battle, which is what I think these championships are made of and what brings the fans to the track. So I’d sum it up as a very healthy rivalry.”

Alex Lynn, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “Even as a little boy (growing up in England), you knew exactly who Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi were. You knew what their teams represented. For me to represent Chip and his team is a huge honor. I’m extremely motivated to try to add to his legacy and be part of the fabric of this team. I think having the battle between Penske and Ganassi is iconic. Also Porsche and Cadillac as brands, respectively, just adds to the occasion. Makes me smile even thinking about it knowing what we get to represent when the flag drops.”

Felipe Nasr, No. 7 Porsche Penske: “I think it’s fantastic especially because we’re merging the IMSA and WEC Series and giving the opportunity for teams like Penske and Ganassi to fight for overall victories. You look at the history of those teams, they’ve been on top. We always hear it from the IndyCar guys or the NASCAR side, you’re talking two big names in motorsports. You expect nothing but them fighting for wins. For sure Ganassi has strengths, and we have strengths as well. I’m pretty glad I have the opportunity to be representing Team Penske and continue to write history with them and Porsche is a great opportunity.”

Richard Westbrook, No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac: “The chance for the two most famous teams in America to go head to head in the Daytona 24 Hours and also the Le Mans 24 Hours. I expect that rivalry to keep going up more notches.”

Renger van der Zande, No. 01 Ganassi Cadillac: “Obviously, it’s such the big houses of racing in the U.S. Penske and Ganassi are taking it at each other. The rivalry is big. The best of the best. The most famous ones in the U.S.

“Ganassi is part of Cadillac. We’re the race team that runs the factory program for Cadillac. Penske is running it for Porsche, obviously a high brand as well. Those teams have their little rivalry, but they’re working for a bigger company, a bigger brand, which is Cadillac and Porsche. So those two premium brands taking on each other and then two of the best teams in America taking on each other. It’s very simple: Cadillac got the best team in the U.S. and Porsche got the best team in the U.S. So let’s see what happens. It’s going to be a cool fight.”