Christopher Bell was under 20 laps away from getting a fourth straight Golden Driller at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. The Oklahoma native had won his home race for three straight years and was not only leading but on the verge of tying Kevin Swindell for the most wins (4) in-a-row in the history of this prestigious event on Saturday night.
Unfortunately for him, Kyle Larson had other thoughts in mind. His former Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate caught him and passed him with 17 to go and never looked back in reversing the top two finishing order from a year ago.
In 2019, Bell passed Larson on the last lap to win and gave KKM their fifth straight Chili Bowl triumph. 364 days later, here they were in the top two again, this time for different teams.
Larson, left in the offseason to start his own Midget team. Bell, left to join Tucker Boat Motorsports. Both were big risks as they just run sporadically during the year and want to be in the top equipment to win the races they do show up to race.
The risk paid off as they yet again came home 1-2.
For KKM this week, it was a lot of star power to lose. They also lost Logan Seavey too. When Saturday night’s 55 Lap feature ended, that trio took three of the top four finishing positions.
While on the surface, it looks like a big loss for KKM, if you actually dig deeper, it’s not.
KKM has a talented rebuilding group. They replaced two part time drivers and Seavey with a trio of 17 year olds who look like the next great group of USAC racing.
17 year old Cannon McIntosh won his preliminary night race on Monday and would finish third in the A-Main on Saturday to take Rookie of the Year Honors. Another 17 year old in Michael Kofoid started 12th and finished seventh. Kofoid, won the B2 Main on Saturday evening to advance to his first A-Main in the Chili Bowl.
Then they have Wise. Another talented 17 year old who will race part-time with KKM in 2020 after a special few seasons with Clauson Marshall Racing. Wise, won the BC 39 last year as a 16 year old. He had a good car this week but hit bad luck in the Mains and was eliminated in the D-1 Main.
Still, when you look at losing Larson, Bell and Seavey, it could be a huge loss. But, when you gain McIntosh, Kofoid and Wise, it’s actually going to end up being a win in the long run.