360 drivers entered, only one would come out victorious on Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals took place on the indoor dirt track inside of an Expo Hall and once again, it didn’t disappoint.
Last year, Christopher Bell passed Kyle Larson on the last lap en route to his third straight Chili Bowl triumph. This year, the two entered as favorites, but for the first time, they weren’t teammates.
Prior to 2020, the two current NASCAR drivers raced in the Chili Bowl for Keith Kunz Motorsports. KKM had won the previous five years in this event including three straight for Bell.
Prior to KKM was Dooling/Rusty Kunz with Bryan Clauson in 2014 and then five straight wins by the Swindell’s with Sammy in 2009 and Kevin from 2010 through 2013.
KKM and a Swindell car was up front again vying for the win. But, it was Larson in his own Midget and Bell with Tucker Boat Motorsports besting them instead
Larson, passed Bell with 17 laps-to-go and never looked back en route to his first Chili Bowl victory.
“Its a pretty different range of emotions 365 days later,” Larson said on the TV broadcast following his first Golden Driller in nine A-Main tries. “I feel like I’m going to pass out.”
The win was something Larson had always coveted. This is the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Super Bowl all wrapped into one for the Midgets. To be the best among a race record 360 entries is a huge accomplishment. Factor that in with how close he was to winning last year and making redemption on his biggest competition with his very own Midget team, and you can see why the California native was beaming with joy.
“I’m sorry NASCAR, I’m sorry Daytona, but this is the biggest (expletive) race I’ve ever won. I hope to win Daytona in a few weeks but this is bad ass.”
Larson, entered the week with three top seven finishes in his last four tries in Tulsa. Bell, had four top three finishes since 2014 and now leaves with a fifth in his last seven tries. He was trying to become just the second driver to ever win four in-a-row in the Chili Bowl but came one spot short. Swindell, had won four straight in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 and came home runner-up in 2014 and again in 2015 to Clauson and Rico Abreu.
Abreu, finished fifth in the No. 97 KKM entry for his fourth top five in the last six years. His teammate Cannon McIntosh won Rookie of the Year Awards as he brought his No. 71K home third.
Swindell driver Logan Seavey rounded out the top five in his No. 39 entry. Seavey, won the B1 Main to advance to the main event and charged from the 11th straight spot for his first top five in three Chili Bowl tries. Seavey, finished 14th in 2018 and ninth last year. He too left KKM for Swindell in the offseason as the top three drivers to leave KKM finished 1-2-4 on Saturday night.
For Larson though, he beat Bell (3 time defending winner), KKM (McIntosh/Abreu) and Swindell (Seavey) at the end.