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Top Midget Drivers Hungering For Chili Bowl Championship

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 11 2015

Kyle Larson wants a second serving of Chili Bowl success. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Christa L Thomas)

The Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions – a 20-lap shootout among some of the best drivers to have competed in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire – will highlight Warren Cat Qualifying Night on Tuesday, Jan. 13, in Tulsa, Okla.

VIROC VII will be run prior to the B-Features on the opening night of the 29th annual event, which will run through Saturday. Last year’s $2,500 to-win dash saw the three-year dominance of dirt-track legend Sammy Swindell come to an end when Kyle Larson charged from sixth to win.

Teams began moving into Tulsa Expo Raceway – a quarter-mile clay oval inside the River Spirit Expo Center at Tulsa’s Expo Square – on Sunday. Practice is scheduled for Monday, with the first night of competition to get underway Tuesday.

Competition will continue with Wednesday’s River Spirit Casino Qualifier, Thursday’s John Christner Trucking Qualifier and Friday’s Vacuworx Global Qualifier en route to Saturday’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Championship.

The top three in each Qualifying Night A-Feature will transfer directly into the Saturday championship event with the remainder of Saturday’s features lined-up according to the Qualifying Night finishes.

In addition to Larson (2014) past VIROC champions include Kevin Swindell (2013), Sammy Swindell (2009, 2011 and 2012) and Brad Loyet (2010). Drivers who have made the cut for VIROC VII:

(1) Sammy Swindell (Germantown, Tenn.) –The five-time Chili Bowl winner announced his retirement in 2014, but was quick to note that he still would compete in the event in 2015 for the 25th time.

(1st) J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, Ariz.) – Under the banner of 1996 owner/champion Jay McKinnie, Yeley will compete in his fourth VIROC. Yeley’s best finish in the event came in 2013 as runnerup to Kevin Swindell.

(5) Jerry Coons Jr. (Tucson, Ariz.) – The choice of Wilke-Pak Racing, Coons Jr. has competed in the last two VIROCs with finishes of fifth in 2013 and seventh in 2014. His 2015 bid marks the second year for the 2005 Chili Bowl owner/champions.

(o5) Brad Loyet (Sunset Hills, Mo.) – Winning the VIROC in 2010 punched Loyet’s ticket into the 2015 edition of the 20-lapper. Loyet owns three POWRi Championships, as well as a best finish of third in Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour points in 2014.

(6k) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Olive Branch, Miss.) – Transplanting from his Clauson ride for one race under the banner of Ralph Potter, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular will look to redeem his 2012 VIROC performance – a DNF.

(15x) Chad Boat (Phoenix, Ariz.) – Son of Chili Bowl champion Billy Boat, Chad again looks to match the accomplishment of his father in the John Lawson machine. Chad’s best VIROC finish is fourth in 2013.

(21k) Cory Kruseman (Ventura, Calif.) – The VIROC is one race that has eluded Kruseman and his trophy case. Topping the Chili Bowl on two occasions, Cory only managed a best finish of seventh in 2014.

(22) John Heydenreich (Indianapolis, Ind.) – The 1990 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl winner, Heydenreich last saw action in the 2011 VIROC. His best finish in three starts came the previous year (ninth).

(24) Tracy Hines (Wilkinson, Ind.) – The 2005 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Champion finished fifth in the 2014 edition of the VIROC. Hines has posted a top-10 result in five of six VIROCs.

(39) Kevin Swindell (Germantown, Tenn.) – Four times a Chili Bowl champion, Kevin topped the VIROC in 2013. In six Chili Bowl A-Feature starts, his four wins accompany five top-fives.

(47x) Tim McCreadie (Watertown, N.Y.) – The Late Model ace grabbed a Golden Driller in 2006. Piloting an Andy Bondio entry, McCreadie looks to rebound from 2014, when the No. 47x’s VIROC ended early.

(63) Bryan Clauson (Noblesville, Ind.) –The reigning Chili Bowl champion entered his first VIROC in 2014. Representing owners Rusty Kunz and Joe Dooling in the No. 63, Clauson came from 15th to ninth in his first VIROC attempt.

(71) Christopher Bell (Norman, Okla.) – For the second consecutive year, Bell’s bid into the VIROC cames via the National Midget Driver of the Year. Also topping the Downforce Designs Midget Power Rankings, Bell rattled off 16 wins across North America behind the wheel of a Midget.

(71k) Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, Calif.) – The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year started his season with a VIROC victory. As reigning champion of the Race of Champions, Larson automatically qualified for the 2015 edition.

(71L) Damion Gardner (Concord, Calif.) – Chili Bowl Champion in 2008, “The Demon” is looking for his first VIROC triumph in a Klatt Enterprises entry in 2015.

(97) Rico Abreu (Rutherford, Calif.) – Following a banner 2014 season, Abreu was chosen by Keith Kunz to extend his Chili Bowl dominance. The 2014 USAC National Champion finished fourth in the Downforce Designs Midget Power Rankings and will start his first VIROC this week.

Qualifying Nights rosters for the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals have been released for a field of 318 entries. However, the following lists likely will change before racing commences:

Tuesday Warren CAT Qualifying Night _ Joey Moughan, Glenn Styres, Don O’Keefe Jr., Tyler Brehm, Cole Custer, Brad Loyet, Bobby Brewer, Terry Nichols, Paul White, Mike Wheeler, Ryan Wall, Steve Davis, Nathan Benson, Jeb Sessums, Jake Neuman, Caleb Armstrong, Ryan Greth, Shawn Petersen, Colten Cottle, Zach Daum, Shannon McQueen, Chance Morton, Shawn Jackson, Robby Parish, Pat Schudy, Wade Seiler, Gage Walker, Jonathan Beason, Kyle Clark, Doug McCune, Andrew Felker, Chett Gehrke, Chris Stockham, Bryan Severs, Jock Thacker, Steve Schaberg, Sam Hafertepe Jr., Brandon Matus, Blake Edwards;

Also, Dominic Scelzi, Travis Scott, Tony Bruce Jr., Steven Drevicki, Nick O’Neal, Robert Ballou, Harlan Hulsey, Joey Saldana, David Stephenson, David Prickett, Jimmy Light, Landon Simon, Dustin Golobic, Alex Bright, Kyle Keeler, Garrett Aitken, Chase Briscoe, Billy Wease, Michael Faccinto, Matt Sherrell, Frank Flud, Spencer Bayston, Aaron Dromgoole, Taylor Forbes, James Miller, R.J. Johnson, Isaac Chapple, Jerry McGehee, Tony Everhart, Levi Jones, Lance Bennett, Michael Pickens, Tyler Edwards, Kyle Larson, Lee Dauks, Adam Pearson, Nick Wean, Jacob Patton, Josh Hawkins, Ryan Beechler, Jonathan Halford, David Camfield, Brian McClelland, Terry Babb, Mickey Walker, Brenden Bright, Dustin Morgan and Darren Kingston.

Wednesday River Spirit Qualifying Night _ Gary Taylor, Sammy Swindell, J.J. Yeley, Tony Roney, Kyle Jones, Charlie McDonald, Chadd Howell, Chad Frewaldt, Josh Lakatos, Ty Hulsey, Andee Beierle, Tom Everhart, Amber Balcaen, Austin Brown, Claud Estes III, Robert Black, Kevin Ramey, Tanner Berryhill, Kory Schudy, Alex Sewell, Harli White, Kade Morton, Brody Roa, Parker Price-Miller, Dalton Camfield, Dustin Hapka, Brady Bacon, Chris Sheil, John Ricketts, David McIntosh, Jody Rosenboom, Tim Siner, Brandon Waelti, David Camfield Jr., Alex DeCamp, Chase Johnson, Payton Pierce, Jonathan Cornell;

Also, Landon Hurst, Jimmy Harris, Dylan Petersen, Cale Thomas, Cameron Hagin, Tyler Robbins, Nate Wait, Zach Hampton, Tim Kent, Justin Grant, Logan Arnold, Don Droud Jr., Philip Dietz, Daniel Adler, Michael Curtis, Colby Copeland, Matt Harms, Nick Knepper, Isaac Schreurs, Jacob Davis, Taylor Simas, Chris Windom, Shane Cockrum, Matt Land, Jake Swanson, Kevin Olson, Tyler Courtney, Trey Marcham, Travis Berryhill, John Klabunde, Eric Johnson, Matt Johnson, Jace Vander Weerd, Chad Wheeler, Jeff Stasa, Tyler Thomas, Rico Abreu, Jake Blackhurst and Chase Allen.

Thursday J.C.T. Qualifying Night _ Kip Hughes, Billy Melton, Kenny Wallace, Ryan Bernal, Robert Harr, Ryan Leavitt, Seth Motsinger, Chris Andrews, Chad Dyer, Jerry Coons Jr., Danny Smith, Barry Lamb, James Edens, P.J. Gargiulo, Justin Peck, Tom Harris, David Gough, Ryan Foster, Michelle Decker, Scott Crystal, Blake Hahn, Randi Pankratz, Richard Vander Weerd, Justin Melton, Josh Baughman, Steve Newman, Donovan Peterson, Austin Archdale, Jay Mounce, Eric Fenton, Harley Hollan, Paul Nienhiser, Andrew Deal, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Michael Koontz, Duke Nalon III, Cole Wood, Patrick Stasa;

Also, Matt Streeter, Chad Wilson, Justin Dickerson, Mike Goodman, Tracy Hines, Steve Buckwalter, Matt Juhl, Shane Golobic, Kyle O’Gara, Christian Kinnison, James Burke, Davey Ray, Cody Ledger, Seth Bergman, Kevin Swindell, C.J. Johnson, Johnny Herrera, Danny Stratton, Jake Hagopian, Steven Shebester, Nick Drake, Mark Chisholm, Chad Boespflug, Kevin Studley, A.J. Fike, Christopher Bell, Robert Bell, Ricky Shelton, Jason McDougal, David Gravel, Thomas Meseraull, Katlynn Leer, Tommy Kunsman, Heath Duinkerken, Danny Smith, Coby Hughes, Tyler Nelson, Kevin Bayer, Cody Brewer and Chuck McGillivary.

Friday Vacuworx Qualifying Night _ Johnny Murdock, Justin Hendricks, Stevie Sussex III, A.J. Burns, Stu Snyder, Shane Cottle, Raven Culp, Mike Fulper, Tim Barber, Tim Crawley, Rik Forbes, Tyson Hall, Pat McVicker, Anton Julian, Austin Liggett, Sean Dodenhoff, George White, Floyd Alvis, Gavin Harlien, Matt Westfall, Danny Burke, Chad Boat, Casey Shuman, Alex Schutte, Ryan Ellis, Dave Darland, Tadd Holliman, Shon Deskins, Daryn Pittman, Cory Kruseman, John Heydenreich, Rick Shuman, Hannah Adair, Glenn Bratti, Curt Michael, David Budres, David Wheeler, Danny Jennings, Hunter Schuerenberg, Jason Johnson;

Also, Austin Prock, Tim McCreadie, Mike Spencer, Aaron Schuck, Jack Hawley, Daniel Robinson, Matt Mitchell, Rusty Dukes, Bryan Clauson, Tanner Thorson, Kevin Thomas Jr., Ronnie Gardner, Jeromy Hefler, Damion Gardner, Jamie Speers, Kenny Bowers, Mike Hess, Shane Weeks, Shane Hollingsworth, Nick Bailey, Jim Radney, Jarid Blondel, Dillon Welch and Mitchell Frewaldt.

A list of Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Champions, with year, driver and owner(s) in parentheses:

2014 _ Bryan Clauson (Joe Dooling/Dooling Marketing)

2013 _ Kevin Swindell (Swindell Motorsports/Curb Records)

2012 _ Kevin Swindell (Swindell Motorsports/Curb Records)

2011 _ Kevin Swindell (Swindell Motorsports/Curb Records)

2010 _ Kevin Swindell (Swindell Motorsports/Curb Records)

2009 _ Sammy Swindell (Swindell Motorsports/Curb Records)

2008 _ Damion Gardner (Jason Leffler)

2007 _ Tony Stewart (Tony Stewart Motorsports)

2006 _ Tim McCreadie (Steve Smith)

2005 _ Tracy Hines (Wilke – Pak)

2004 _ Cory Kruseman (Andy Bondio)

2003 _ Dan Boorse (Dan Boorse)

2002 _ Tony Stewart (Keith Kunz)

2001 _ Jay Drake (Keith Kunz)

2000 _ Cory Kruseman (Andy Bondio)

1999 _ Dan Boorse (Dan Boorse)

1998 _ Sammy Swindell (Pete Willoughby)

1997 _ Billy Boat (John Lawson)

1996 _ Sammy Swindell (Rusty Kunz /Jay McKinnie)

1995 _ Donnie Beechler (Zarounian Motorsports)

1994 _ Andy Hillenburg (Keith Kuntz /Rusty Kunz)

1993 _ Dave Blaney (Ralph Potter)

1992 _ Sammy Swindell (Dave Ellis)

1991 _ Lealand McSpadden (Andy Bondio)

1990 _ John Heydenreich (Tony Finley)

1989 _ Sammy Swindell (Jack Runyon)

1988 _ Scott Hatton (Jerry Hatton)

1987 _ Rich Vogler (Bob Lowe)


Races Tuesday through Friday will begin at 6 p.m. (CST); grandstands will open at 3 p.m. Saturday’s program will begin at noon. Opening ceremonies following qualifiers is scheduled at 6 p.m. Grandstands will open at 9 a.m.

General admission seating is available along the back straightaway and can be accessed with the purchase of a Pit Pass. Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire can be found online at http://www.chilibowl.com. For more updates follow the Chili Bowl on Facebook and on Twitter.

All official news regarding the Chili Bowl Nationals can be accessed at http://www.chilibowl.com. Updates throughout the Chili Bowl can be found via Facebook and Twitter at http://www.facebook.com/chilibowlnationals and http://www.twitter.com/cbnationals.

The Chili Bowl also will be carried online on http://www.racinboys.com for the second year. The online PPV experience will run from Tuesday through Saturday’s qualifiers. At the time of opening ceremonies on Saturday, Racinboys PPV coverage will cease as final features will be shown live on MAVTV American Real. For a complete listing of channels, and to request MAVTV, log onto http://www.mavtv.com.

Additionally, the event’s Trade Show will be open to the public each day free of charge. All variety of racing products, apparel and more will be available from over 100 vendors.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 11 2015
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