Chili Bowl opener is all Kyle Larson what a drive !
The 29th Chili Bowl started in the most disastrous possible way for Larson and Keith Kunz.
Getting his Chili Bowl off to an early start in heat one did little for Larson after starting from position 10 he suffered car damage during his progress forward resulting in a broken drag link and front shock. The team pulled out the spanners and worked to ready the car for the C Main so that the car could return to contest the remaining races.
Return he did winning the C main then B to gain his start in the William Cat Preliminary Feature. The task for Larson from position 17 was to make one of the top three positions to advance to the big Diller Final on Saturday night.
A daunting tasks for many but for Larson just another challenge. After 4 laps the Elik Grove driver had moved inside the top 10, the little Beast Toyota, What a feeling!
Up front the race lead was a battle between Loyet, Jones and Daum and it was not long before the POWRi Champion had taken over the race lead. Daum looked strong and fast and was increasing his every lap.
Cautions pay no favors to race leaders as all their hard fought advantage is lost as the field compress up for the restarts. Each caution brought Larson closer to the leaders
The cautions might have played into Larson’s hands but you need to have that special ability to make the caution your friend.
By lap 20 the traffic started to come into play and would be the downfall of Zach Daum the POWRi Champ when he had to shut down to miss the spinning levi Jones #56 and Alex Bright . Larson had the opening and from that point on it was no contest as the Kunz Kid took the field apart as only he.
Larson would cross in first from Loyet and Brayston while Daum would recover after restarting ROF to finish in 9th place. The night belonged to Kyle Larson, spectacular form to win the C, B and A Features.
It was not a happy night for New Zealand’s Michael Pickens after having a flat at the start of his heat and being unable to get it fixed before the race started , the Kiwi found himself on back foot needing to qualify through the 2nd B main . Pickens made the A Final and was running strongly from P 20 to 4th when he ran out of fuel, how is it possible? Pickens would fade as a result and finish in 8th place.
Earlier in the night Sammy Swindell showed that retirement and ages has done little to reduce his Chili Bowl form fast when he won the VROC of Champions from Bryan Clauson over Kory Krusemen. Clauson ran from Position 12 into second and passing Larson, Bell and Abreu on the way.\
Kyle Larson post race comment “”No, not at all,” commented Larson when asked if he thought he’d be sitting in Victory Lane.”I thought it’d be tough to get to the “A”. I could get through the “C” and thought it would be close on getting to the “A” from the “B”. If I was to get to the “A”, I thought if I could finish in the top-six or seven, it would be a solid recovery. Everything seemed to fall my way after that Heat Race accident.”
Brad Loyet Post race comment “”It was one of those things where I kind of got caught early on following Daum and watching his line. Every time he’d make a mistake, I’d make one. My car was a little bit too snug and when I almost lost everything about half-way through the race, I sat back and relaxed, and realized that if we make some solid laps here, we’re going to be in the show on Saturday.”
Spencer Bayston post race comment “”I’m really just in awe right now. I’m just in shock. I’m sitting here shaking, and trying to get through my mind that I just made it in the A-Main,” said Bayston. “Two years ago, I was sitting at home watching YouTube videos of Kyle, Brad, and Bryan, and all those guys race around here. To be racing against them is a true honor.”
A-Feature: Top 3 advance to Saturday’s A-Feature.
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 71K-Kyle Larson; 2. 05-Brad Loyet; 3. 39B-Spencer Bayston; 4. 21S-Joey Saldana; 5. 88B-Terry Babb; 6. 5C-Colten Cottle; 7. 3N-Jake Neuman; 8. 63NZ-Michael Pickens; 9. 5D-Zach Daum; 10. R8-Joey Moughan; 11. 2ND-Jeb Sessums; 12. 27-Alex Bright; 13. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr; 14. 56-Levi Jones; 15. 11A-Andrew Felker; 16. 52C-Isaac Chapple; 17. 8J-Jonathan Beason; 18. 7SS-Wade Seiler; 19. 79J-Jacob Patton; 20. (DNF) 35-Billy Wease; 21. (DNF) 78-Nick Wean; 22. (DNF) 17S-Dominic Scelzi; 23. (DNF) 19P-Robert Ballou; 24. (DNF) 71X-Tyler Courtney
Lap Leader(s): Levi Jones 1-7; Zach Daum 8-20; Kyle Larson 21-24;
It is now on to night 2 of the Chili Bowl Nationals and the River Spirit Casino Qualifying Night
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