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Thorson Captures Friday Win at Chili Bowl

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, January 18 2020
Tanner Thorson came up big at the Chili Bowl on Friday.

RacinToday.com

A drag race to the checkered flag around Tulsa Expo Raceway’s quarter-mile dirt layout saw Tanner Thorson hold off Ryan Bernal to score his first career preliminary A-Feature victory Friday night during the 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire.

Thorson posted a popular Vacuworx Qualifying Night victory at River Spirit Expo Center 10 months after a highway crash that nearly ended his career. Thorson was involved in a fiery wreck in the early morning hours of March 4, 2019 in Modesto, Calif., suffering a broken left arm, broken right foot, cracked sternum, broken ribs and punctured lung. Thorson, a 23-year-old native of Minden, Nev., was returning home with his pickup and race car trailer from an event at The Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

“This means a lot. I didn’t know if I was ever going to be able to race again,” said Thorson, who led three times for a total of 10 laps Friday, including the final six. “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. It was definitely one of the hardest times of my life and hopefully I don’t have to do anything harder.”

Thorson emerged from the last of seven official lead changes for the victory by 0.166-seconds over Bernal, with both advancing into Saturday night’s championship A-Feature.

Oklahoma native Christopher Bell, a rising NASCAR star and three-time/reigning Golden Driller Award winner, earned his spot Thursday with an A-Feature win over Thomas Meseraull. Rico Abreu, the Golden Driller winner in 2015-16, won Wednesday night’s A-Feature to advance along with Colby Copeland. They join Tuesday night’s A-Feature winner/runnerup pairing of NASCAR Cup regular Kyle Larson and Jonathan Beason and Monday’s combination of 17-year-old Cannon McIntosh and second-place Tyler Courtney.

NASCAR veteran Ricky Stenhouse Jr. saw his lead on Lap 14 end when he slammed through the cushion and into the Turn 3 wall on a restart. Thorson took the lead, Chris Windom took over second and Tucker Klaasmeyer moved into third. Stalked by fifth-running Justin Grant, the No. 4a threw a massive slide job for third. But a caution put him back to fifth on a restart which also saw Stenhouse shoot into the wall because of a failed part on his car’s left rear.

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 4 on Lap 20. That opened the bottom to Bernal, who shot from fourth to first.

Caution again flew 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 while Thorson, keeping to the hub, retook the runnerup spot on the cushion.

Slide jobs were on again on Lap 24. 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 checkered flag came down to the final turn, with Thorson hustling the high side to the line 0.166- seconds ahead of Bernal. Windom ended up third with Klaasmeyer fourth. Gridding the field 16th, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Justin Allgaier charged forward 11 positions to complete the top five.

A field of 343 drivers now have drawn in for the Chili Bowl Nationals. Friday’s field of 70 competitors ran nine OERB Heat Races with wins going to Ace McCarthy, Ethan Mitchell, Allgaier, AJ Hopkins, Windom, Klaasmeyer, Grant, Stenhouse and Chad Boespflug. C-Feature scores went to Dustin Morgan and Alex Schutte.

Team Toyota Qualifier wins went to Sam Hafertepe Jr., Donny Schatz, Grant and Windom. Dave.com B-Features were topped by Sam Johnson and Jody Rosenboom.

The Worldwide Technologies Raceway Flip Count jumped from 49 to 57, with all drivers able to walk away.

The Chili Bowl Nationals conclude Saturday, with Hot Laps on-track at 10:30 a.m. (EST). Opening Ceremonies for the final features will start at 7 p.m.

Continued updates on the Chili Bowl Nationals are available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with @CBNationals. Official press updates and results on the Chili Bowl also can be accessed online at http://www.chilibowl.com.

Saturday’s final feature races will air live on the MAVTV Motorsports Network during a three-hour telecast beginning at 8:30 p.m. (EST). A total of 55 laps of quarter-mile action are scheduled. In addition, MAVTV will air two, one-hour Tulsa Shootout broadcasts beginning at 6:30 p.m. as a prelude to the live telecast.

The full LIVE event broadcast schedule is available at https://www.mavtv.com/schedule/. 

NTT IndyCar Series veteran Conor Daly challenged dirt-track racing’s best during Friday’s Chili Bowl Nationals preliminary schedule. Daly finished seventh in his eight-lap heat race, fourth in his 12-lap C-Main and 12th in a field of 16 during his 15-lap B-Main. All of the record 343 entered drivers will be slotted into stepladder races Saturday at Tulsa Expo Raceway.

On Wednesday, Santino Ferrucci finished fifth in a C-Main, with James Davison 10th in a similar race Thursday. Davison was poised to finish higher but was bumped from behind in the last corner of the final lap.

Ferrucci and Davison made their dirt-track racing debuts this week. Ferrucci, a native of Connecticut, experienced a successful 2019 IndyCar Series rookie campaign with Dale Coyne Racing. Davison is a native of Melbourne, Australia, and a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter. Both were given only a handful of practice laps on the quarter-mile indoor track before their first heat races.

Ferrucci started his heat race on the front row alongside five-time Chili Bowl champion and dirt-track legend Sammy Swindell. Davison was one of 73 drivers competing Thursday, a night won by NASCAR Cup Series rookie Christopher Bell, the three-time/reigning champion of this prestigious event.

Drivers representing 40 states and six countries are competing in Tulsa. Among them are seven former Chili Bowl champions, along with NASCAR Cup standouts Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman. Larson, Bell and Rico Abreu, a two-time Golden Driller Award winner, won their respective A-Features this week.

“For Santino and I, this is Day 1 in a Midget and racing on dirt, and we only got (a few) minutes of practice prior to our heat races,” said Davison, who plans to compete in NASCAR’s season-opening Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 this season. “We’re having to figure everything out at the Super Bowl of dirt racing and it’s obviously not an ideal, textbook situation. But we’ve at least had the (guts) to sign up and do this and not care if we look bad.”

Daly will compete on INDYCAR’s road/street circuits this year in the No. 20 Chevrolet fielded by Ed Carpenter Racing and in a third team entry in the 104th Indianapolis 500. The Indiana native is competing in the Chili Bowl for the second time.

Ferrucci and Davison said they understand the lure of competing in Tulsa. “It’s a blast and I want to get good at it, and the only way that’s going to happen is by doing it more,” Davison said. “I’m up for any challenge, and I want to get good at this.”

Ferrucci confidently added, “I don’t really care how I do. I came here to have fun, stay clean and have a blast. I want to come back and do it again next year.”

Ferrucci, Daly and Davison are driving with backing from David Byrd, whose inspiration for supporting talented open-wheel drivers emanates from his father, Jonathan, who helped Rich Vogler and Stan Fox compete in the Indianapolis 500. David Byrd also helped Bryan Clauson compete in the 500 in 2015 and ’16.

The 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season begins March 13-15 with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street race in Florida.

OERB Heat Races: Top 40 in passing points advance to Qualifiers

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 28-Ace McCarthy[2]; 2. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[3]; 3. 81-Colten Cottle[4]; 4. 5O-Timmy Thrash[5]; 5. 84Z-Johnny Murdock[1]; 6. 19X-Don Droud Jr.[6]; 7. (DNS) 17X-Kurt Stellhorn; 8. (DNS) 35-Ben Schmidt.

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[3]; 2. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.[4]; 3. 8K-Josh Hawkins[1]; 4. 72J-Sam Johnson[6]; 5. 37X-Karter Sarff[7]; 6. 10W-Marcus Thomas[8]; 7. 42C-Chris Cochran[5]; 8. 15L-Merril Lamb[2].

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 7A-Justin Allgaier[3]; 2. 95-Chris Andrews[1]; 3. 19-Tanner Thorson[8]; 4. 7-Shannon McQueen[4]; 5. 29A-Tim Buckwalter[5]; 6. 1NP-Terry Nichols[6]; 7. 93Z-Zachary Patterson[2]; 8. 21S-Russell Shoulders[7].

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 14H-AJ Hopkins[2]; 2. 21-Daryn Pittman[6]; 3. 92-Josh Most[7]; 4. 68W-Josh Lakatos[1]; 5. 93-Dustin Morgan[5]; 6. 88E-Tim Estenson[3]; 7. 72C-Chris Tarrant[8]; 8. 20-Tadd Holliman[4].

Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 89-Chris Windom[4]; 2. 15J-David Prickett[1]; 3. 37M-Matt Mitchell[3]; 4. 88-Terry Babb[2]; 5. 17R-Alex Schutte[5]; 6. 11D-Colton Fisher[8]; 7. 3F-Tim Barber[7]; 8. 20G-Noah Gass[6].

Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[7]; 2. 87W-Ryan Bernal[8]; 3. 10J-Jeffrey Newell[1]; 4. 22B-Troy Betts[4]; 5. 57-Maria Cofer[6]; 6. 19U-Pierce Urbanosky[2]; 7. 95T-Buddy Tubbs[5]; 8. 911-Waylon Weaver[3].

Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 4A-Justin Grant[2]; 2. 15-Donny Schatz[1]; 3. 57A-Bill Balog[8]; 4. 9K-Kevin Olson[3]; 5. 78-Raven Culp[6]; 6. 13A-Austin Yarbrough[5]; 7. 20C-Conor Daly[7]; 8. 27F-Jesse Frazier[4].

Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.[4]; 2. 5K-Justin Peck[5]; 3. 2R-Steven Drevicki[6]; 4. 88W-Dustin Weland[2]; 5. 08J-Jace McIntosh[1]; 6. 52F-Logan Faucon[3]; 7. 44D-Evan Turner[7].

Heat 9 (8 Laps): 1. 25P-Chad Boespflug[2]; 2. 82-Andrew Layser[7]; 3. 7M-Brody Roa[4]; 4. 4C-Kyle Bellm[1]; 5. 4R-Jared McIntyre[5]; 6. C27-Clint Wilson[6]; 7. 56X-Mark Chisholm[3].

C-Features: Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature

C-Main 1 (12 Laps): 1. 93-Dustin Morgan[2]; 2. 88E-Tim Estenson[7]; 3. 35-Ben Schmidt[15]; 4. 20C-Conor Daly[9]; 5. 20-Tadd Holliman[13]; 6. 13A-Austin Yarbrough[6]; 7. 19U-Pierce Urbanosky[8]; 8. 1NP-Terry Nichols[5]; 9. 56X-Mark Chisholm[11]; 10. 21S-Russell Shoulders[12]; 11. 08J-Jace McIntosh[4]; 12. 42C-Chris Cochran[10]; 13. 4R-Jared McIntyre[3]; 14. 911-Waylon Weaver[14]; 15. 4C-Kyle Bellm[1].

C-Main 2 (12 Laps): 1. 17R-Alex Schutte[2]; 2. 29A-Tim Buckwalter[1]; 3. 19X-Don Droud Jr.[3]; 4. 52F-Logan Faucon[6]; 5. 95T-Buddy Tubbs[9]; 6. 72C-Chris Tarrant[5]; 7. 27F-Jesse Frazier[11]; 8. 93Z-Zachary Patterson[10]; 9. 3F-Tim Barber[7]; 10. 44D-Evan Turner[8]; 11. C27-Clint Wilson[4]; 12. 17X-Kurt Stellhorn[13]; 13. 15L-Merril Lamb[12]; 14. (DNS) 84Z-Johnny Murdock; 15. (DNS) 20G-Noah Gass.

Team Toyota Qualifiers: Top 16 in combined passing points advance to the A-Feature

Qualifier 1 (10 Laps): 1. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.[2]; 2. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.[5]; 3. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[6]; 4. 28-Ace McCarthy[3]; 5. 72J-Sam Johnson[7]; 6. 15J-David Prickett[1]; 7. 9K-Kevin Olson[9]; 8. 88W-Dustin Weland[8]; 9. 19M-Ethan Mitchell[4]; 10. (DNS) 10J-Jeffrey Newell.

Qualifier 2 (10 Laps): 1. 15-Donny Schatz[1]; 2. 21-Daryn Pittman[5]; 3. 14H-AJ Hopkins[3]; 4. 87W-Ryan Bernal[6]; 5. 7A-Justin Allgaier[4]; 6. 2R-Steven Drevicki[2]; 7. 37X-Karter Sarff[8]; 8. 57-Maria Cofer[9]; 9. 37M-Matt Mitchell[7]; 10. 10W-Marcus Thomas[10].

Qualifier 3 (10 Laps): 1. 4A-Justin Grant[3]; 2. 19-Tanner Thorson[5]; 3. 5K-Justin Peck[4]; 4. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[2]; 5. 82-Andrew Layser[6]; 6. 7-Shannon McQueen[8]; 7. 78-Raven Culp[9]; 8. 11D-Colton Fisher[10]; 9. 5O-Timmy Thrash[7]; 10. 81-Colten Cottle[1].

Qualifier 4 (10 Laps): 1. 89-Chris Windom[6]; 2. 7M-Brody Roa[1]; 3. 57A-Bill Balog[5]; 4. 95-Chris Andrews[2]; 5. 92-Josh Most[4]; 6. 25P-Chad Boespflug[3]; 7. 8K-Josh Hawkins[7]; 8. 88-Terry Babb[9]; 9. 68W-Josh Lakatos[10]; 10. 22B-Troy Betts[8].

Dave.com B-Features: Top 4 advance to the A-Feature

B-Main 1 (15 Laps): 1. 72J-Sam Johnson[2]; 2. 92-Josh Most[1]; 3. 57-Maria Cofer[8]; 4. 25P-Chad Boespflug[3]; 5. 93-Dustin Morgan[13]; 6. 37X-Karter Sarff[6]; 7. 8K-Josh Hawkins[7]; 8. 7-Shannon McQueen[4]; 9. 88E-Tim Estenson[14]; 10. 22B-Troy Betts[12]; 11. 5O-Timmy Thrash[10]; 12. 20C-Conor Daly[16]; 13. (DNF) 88W-Dustin Weland[9]; 14. (DNF) 35-Ben Schmidt[15]; 15. (DNS) 19M-Ethan Mitchell; 16. (DNS) 10J-Jeffrey Newell.

B-Main 2 (15 Laps): 1. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[1]; 2. 95-Chris Andrews[2]; 3. 2R-Steven Drevicki[3]; 4. 68W-Josh Lakatos[10]; 5. 37M-Matt Mitchell[9]; 6. 88-Terry Babb[8]; 7. 17R-Alex Schutte[13]; 8. 78-Raven Culp[6]; 9. 15J-David Prickett[4]; 10. 9K-Kevin Olson[5]; 11. 52F-Logan Faucon[16]; 12. 81-Colten Cottle[11]; 13. 19X-Don Droud Jr.[15]; 14. 10W-Marcus Thomas[12]; 15. 11D-Colton Fisher[7]; 16. 29A-Tim Buckwalter[14].

A-Feature: Top 2 advance to Saturday’s A-Feature

A-Main (30 Laps): 1. 19-Tanner Thorson[5]; 2. 87W-Ryan Bernal[7]; 3. 89-Chris Windom[1]; 4. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer[2]; 5. 7A-Justin Allgaier[16]; 6. 4A-Justin Grant[6]; 7. 21-Daryn Pittman[4]; 8. 15-Donny Schatz[12]; 9. 25P-Chad Boespflug[23]; 10. 5K-Justin Peck[10]; 11. 72J-Sam Johnson[17]; 12. 95-Chris Andrews[20]; 13. 28-Ace McCarthy[14]; 14. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr.[8]; 15. 14X-Jody Rosenboom[18]; 16. 14H-AJ Hopkins[13]; 17. 68W-Josh Lakatos[24]; 18. 82-Andrew Layser[11]; 19. 57-Maria Cofer[21]; 20. 2R-Steven Drevicki[22]; 21. 7M-Brody Roa[15]; 22. 92-Josh Most[19]; 23. 17S-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.[3]; 24. 57A-Bill Balog[9].

Lap Leader(s): Chris Windom, 1-3, 18; Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 4-14; Ryan Bernal, 20-24; Tanner Thorson, 15-17, 19, 25-30; Hard Charger: Chad Boespflug, plus 14.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, January 18 2020
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