Updated: Feb 26
(Image Credit: DB3)
Bryan Hulbert – TULSA, Okla. (January 17, 2020) Four leaders, seven official lead changes, and at the end of Friday’s Vacuworx Qualifying Night; a drag race to the checkered flag that saw Tanner Thorson holding off Ryan Bernal at the line for his first career preliminary A-Feature victory in the 34th running of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl National presented by General Tire.
Making the win sweeter for Thorson is the fact that 10 months ago, the outlook on his career was grim following a crash that nearly ended his career.
“This means a lot. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to race again. My parents didn’t tell me until about two months after the fact that on one of my last appointments that the surgeon said I may never be able to use my left arm again.,” stated, Tanner. “It was definitely one of the hardest times of my life and hopefully I don’ have to do anything harder.”
Chasing from fifth as Chris Windom took the lead from the pole, the race early was for second as Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. battling with Klaasmeyer who took the position as the caution flew.
Race for the lead on the restart, Stenhouse stuck the NOS Energy Drink No. 17s to the hub to overtake Windom off the second turn on Lap 4. Opening his advantage to nearly a second in two laps, the Whelen caution shown working Lap 7.
Back to the last fully completed lap, Stenhouse led Tanner Thorson to the green with the Oil Fire Whiskey No. 19 keeping step with the Mississippi shoe. Working the low side until Lap 8, Thorson shot to the cushion with the lead in sight. Adjusting up the track on Lap 10, Stenhouse held off the charge as Tucker Klaasmeyer rolled into the picture to battle for second.
In traffic on Lap 14, the point changed hands working Lap 15 as Ricky slipped off the bottom and opened the door by Thorson, however, the caution negated the pass as a pair of cars tangled in the third turn.
Moving Stenhouse back to the point as the field reverted to Lap 14, the lead was short-lived as Ricky slammed through the cushion and into the wall, in turn, three on the restart. Thorson to the lead, Windom took over second with Klaasmeyer also taking a spot away from Stenhouse.
Stalked by fifth running Justin Grant, the No. 4a threw a massive slide job for third, but the caution would put him back to fifth on the restart which saw Stenhouse suddenly at the mercy of a failed part on the left rear as the car shot into the wall.
To the final 13 laps, Windom wasted no time going after the lead. Slide for slide, Windom and Thorson traded the top spot with the pair nearly tangling in turn four on Lap 20, opening the bottom to Ryan Bernal who shot from fourth the first in an instant.
Caution bringing the battle to rest with 10 laps to run as Andrew Layser added his name to the Worldwide Technologies Raceway Flip Count, Bernal protected the bottom on the restart. Keeping to the hub, Thorson retook the runner-up spot on the cushion.
With momentum on Lap 24, the slide jobs were on again. Swapping top to bottom on Lap 25, Thorson took the lead with Windom making it a three-car battle on the final lap. Fighting around a lapped car, the run to the win came down to the final turn with Tanner Thorson hustling the high side to the line 0.166 seconds ahead of Ryan Bernal.
Chris Windom ended up third with Tucker Klaasmeyer fourth. Gridding the field 16th, Justin Allgaier charged forward 11 positions to complete the top five.
For the week, a field of 343 drivers drew in for the 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire. Friday’s field of 70 competitors took on nine OERB Heat Races with wins going to Ace McCarthy, Ethan Mitchell, Justin Allgaier, AJ Hopkins, Chris Windom, Tucker Klaasmeyer, Justin Grant, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Chad Boespflug. C-Feature scores went to Dustin Morgan and Alex Schutte.
Team Toyota Qualifier wins went to Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Donny Schatz, Justin Grant, and Chris Windom. Dave.com B-Features were topped by Sam Johnson and Jody Rosenboom.
The Worldwide Technologies Raceway Flip Count jumped Thursday from 49 to 57 with all drivers able to walk away.
The 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire concludes on Saturday, January 18, 2020, with Hot Laps on track at 9:30 A.M.(CT). Opener Ceremonies for the final features will take place starting at 6:00 P.M. (CT). General Admission Pit Passes never sell out and is sold at the event. Saturday is $60.
For continued updates on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, fans can follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with @CBNationals. All official press, updates, and results on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire can be found online at http://www.chilibowl.com.
Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire Tulsa Expo Raceway - Tulsa, Okla. Friday, January 17, 2020 Vacuworx Qualifying Night
Car Count: 70 Event Count: 343