Every January, drivers from all over the world and all disciplines of racing flock to the QuikTrip Center in Tulsa, OK. Why Tulsa? Simple, it is the home for Chili Bowl, otherwise known as the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, which takes place every year around this time.
Chili Bowl is in it’s 27th year and is a five-night event, January 14 to 18th, known as Midget racing’s answer to the Super Bowl. Every driver will give all their effort toward putting on a show for the fans while competing for the coveted Chili Bowl trophy, the Golden Driller.
Among the drivers competing in this year’s Chili Bowl are some well-known drivers from NASCAR’s top series, as well as from the World of Outlaw Sprint car series. From the NASCAR ranks are Kyle Larson, JJ Yeley, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Bryan Clauson (part-time in NASCAR is now racing IndyCar), and Kasey Kahne. Another name in NASCAR taking part and making his first start in this year’s event is NASCAR crew chief Jimmy Elledge. From the World of Outlaws are many familiar names like Joey Saldana, Jerry Coons Jr., Jac Haudenschild, and Sam Haferepe Jr. as well as the defending Chili Bowl winner, Kevin Swindell (also part-time in NASCAR), and the defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Champion, Daryn Pittman.
The five-night show features four nights of qualifying leading to the big show on Saturday. The reason for four nights of qualifying is due to the number of cars the event draws. Each night highlights the standard set-up for dirt races, which features hot laps, heats, a dash and finally an A-Main race to decide each night’s winner. Each of the four qualifying nights help decide where drivers end up in Saturday’s activities, of different heats leading up to the main event. The top-three from each night’s A-Main races transfer directly to Saturday’s main event with the rest finding their place in the heat races based on their finish in their qualifying night. The first of four nights of qualifying is special as it also features the Race of Champions event. This 20-lap feature pays $2,500 to the winner. Among those competing in the Race of Champions are last year’s winner of both the Race of Champions and the Chili Bowl, Kevin Swindell, his father Sammy Swindell, Kyle Larson, and Kasey Kahne.
The last five years, the Golden Driller trophy went to one of the Swindells, with Kevin winning four out of the last five and Sammy winning the other one. If one of the Swindells’ walk away with the Golden Driller again this year or if someone new surprises the field and walks away with the trophy, fans will have fun watching. Anything can happen during this indoor quarter-mile clay oval event. And fans can count on the drivers to put on an amazing show in this year’s Chili Bowl.