MOORESVILLE, N.C. (January 20, 2020) – After 13 years of trying and being so close he could taste it, Kyle Larson is a Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Champion. Making it even that much sweeter is the fact that Larson not only accomplished it as a driver, but as an owner as well
The Elk Grove, Calif., native kicked off his Chili Bowl Midget Nationals week at the Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway Tuesday for his Qualifying Night. After starting on the pole of his heat race and claiming the top spot, Larson did the same in his qualifier after starting third. Before Tuesday’s finale hit the track, Larson competed in his ninth Vacuworx International Race of Champions event where he started eighth and finished fourth after it was cut from 25 laps to 20 due to an impending curfew.
Going into Tuesday’s feature event, Larson had earned enough points to line up on the outside of the front row for the 30-lap feature event. He claimed the lead from the drop of the green flag but in a race plagued with cautions, fuel became a question. Fortunately, the final six laps went caution free and Larson was able to claim his sixth preliminary night victory.
“I think me and Jonathan [Beason] both were running out of fuel there at the end,” explained Larson. “Mine was stumbling a lot the last five laps, so I was thankful we didn’t have another caution because I don’t know if I could have made it. I am happy with the improvements we made on the car tonight. I feel like we got better every time we hit the track. We did what we needed to do, won and set ourselves up for a good starting spot on Saturday.”
With the remainder of the busy Chili Bowl week complete, Larson started third in the Pole Dash on Saturday. He won the third round, advancing him to the finale round where he finished third. The pilot of the Lucas Oil/ iRacing/ Finley Farms lined up from the inside of Row 2 for the 55-lap finale. The caution was displayed for the second time on Lap 36 and on the ensuing restart, Larson kept pace with leader, Christopher Bell, and threw a slide job into the first turn, but was unable to complete the pass. On Lap 39, with momentum to his advantage, Larson once again dove to the bottom of Turns 1 and 2, sliding across the nose of Bell to drag race down the backstretch and into Turn 3. Larson was able to close the door on Bell to take over the top spot. He was able to survive two more cautions and a closing Bell in the final laps to earn his first Chili Bowl Midget Nationals title.
“I’m going to tell you, my confidence was not very high leading in to today,” said Larson. “I know we won Tuesday and I felt like we were good in the feature, but after watching the video I thought we didn’t look very good. Then today in the pole shuffle, I didn’t feel very good at all. But Paul Silva, like he always does, figured it out and we were good when it counted and probably the best car when it mattered. I am just very fortunate to race for great people. Without great people, I wouldn’t be Kyle Larson winning big races. Thank you to all of our partners, Lucas Oil, iRacing, Finley Farms, King Chassis, DURST, Factory Kahne, Weld Wheels, and everyone else that is a part of this race team. We couldn’t do it without everyone that is involved.
Larson will have plenty of time to let his victory settle in as he hops on a plane to continue his busy off-season Down Under. He will be competing in four races over five days across Australia with Dyson Motorsports, ending with the Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic next Sunday.