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Huge Field To Honor Midget Legends At Chili Bowl

| , RacinToday.com Monday, January 9 2017

The best dirt racers in the country will be competing wheel-to-wheel this week at the annual Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla. (File photo buy Dave Hill)

By Len Hayward  | Correspondent

The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals will take the green flag on Tuesday for its annual five-day extravaganza in Tulsa, Okla. that will feature the best midget racing of the season, but also with honors and tributes to two of its favorite sons.

This year’s event, the 31st, will be the first without co-founder Lanny Edwards. Edwards, of Lawton, Oklahoma, passed away in September after battling an illness at 76 years old. Edwards, his wife Beverly and their family were one half of the partnership with Emmett Hahn and his family that took an idea in the late 1980s and turned it into one of the country’s most prestigious motorsports events.

The event will honor Edwards on Thursday when employees will wear red, his favorite color, and he will also be honored again on Saturday.

The event will also honor 2014 champion Bryan Clauson. Clauson succumbed to injuries sustained during the Belleville Midget Nationals in August.

Clauson will be honored during Friday’s program, which was traditionally the night Clauson raced in his preliminary program.

Defending World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz will wheel an entry for Clauson’s father Tim in this year’s event, along with NASCAR Monster Energy Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and defending Knoxville Nationals champ Jason Johnson.

On the track, the event has a record 371 entries, which is by far the most in the 31-year history of the event. Those 371 entries will be paired down to 24 main event starters over four nights of racing on Saturday night.

Here are 10 racers to watch as the event begins Tuesday:

Rico Abreu, Rutherford, California – The two-time and defending champion is the odds-on favorite again, driving for car owner Keith Kunz. Abreu’s hard-charging style has worked at the Chili Bowl and it has netted him two Golden Drillers and could add a third to his collection on Saturday night.

Christopher Bell, Norman, OK – Another native Oklahoman that wants to win in front of his hometown crowd.

Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, Arizona – The USAC ace has finished in the top five three times since 2009 but has yet to taste the champagne of victory lane.

Dave Darland, Lincoln, IN – The “People’s Champ” is looking to make his 18th Chili Bowl main event with his best finish a runner-up in 2008. He missed out on the 2016 main event.

Jonathan Davenport, Blairsville, GA – The late model star will drive for a stout team in Daum Motorsports, and could he pull off the same kind of upset fellow late model driver Tim McCreadie did in 2006?

Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA – The NASCAR Monster Energy Series star has had bad luck in Tulsa over the last few years, and is looking to change that in 2017.

Tim McCreadie, Watertown, NY – The upstate New York modified and late model star has a Chili Bowl title under his belt (2006), and finished sixth in 2016 and will wheel Andy Bondio’s entry again this year.

Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK – Pittman has made the last three main events and cracked the top 10 twice, and as an Oklahoma native this is one trophy he wants in his case.

Donny Schatz, Fargo, ND – Schatz is making his first Chili Bowl appearance and will be driving for the Clauson-Marshall team. While not a regular midget racer, Schatz’s success and experience certainly makes him one to watch.

Tanner Thorson, Minden, Nevada – The defending USAC National Midget Champion has garnered top 10 finishes the last two Chili Bowl main events. Can he break through to the podium or better in 2017?

| , RacinToday.com Monday, January 9 2017
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