The 25th annual Chili Bowl Nationals will be held Jan. 11-15 at the QuickTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway.
In celebration of the Silver Anniversary of this prestigious indoor midget race, www.nationalspeedsportnews.com will be publishing the race reports that appeared in the pages of National Speed Sport News for the first 24 runnings of the event.
Beginning with the inaugural event in 1987, race recaps will be posted on a daily basis from Dec. 18 through Jan. 10.
Hines Adds Golden Driller To Illustrious Career
By DAVE ARGABRIGHT
TULSA, Okla. — Tracy Hines survived heart-stopping pressure from Cory Kruseman over the final 15 laps to win the 19th O’Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Saturday night at Tulsa Expo Raceway — the biggest win of the Indiana driver’s illustrious career.
Hines, aboard the Wilke-Pak Mopar-powered Stealth, bested a stellar field and captured a record $20,000, including a $10,000 bonus from Mopar for using their potent four-cylinder powerplant.
It was also the first Chili Bowl victory for the storied Wilke team, one of the most venerable teams in modern midget racing.
“I just can’t say enough about this Wilke-Pak crew,” Hines said in victory lane. “They gave me a great car, and it was my job to go out there and get it done.
“I’ve won the Hut, I’ve won the 4-Crown, and this one was on my list. Now that I’ve won it, hopefully the Turkey Night will be back on dirt this year and I’ll get that one, too.
“The guys had the car perfect, and nothing went wrong. I had a chance to win it a couple of years ago, but things happen, and I have a lot of emotion now that we’ve finally got it done. This one means an awful lot to me.”
Kruseman held off a furious charge from Dave Darland to score second, as Darland surged from his seventh starting position to pull alongside Kruseman at the finish line. Kruseman, the defending race champion, was philosophical after the race.
“Tracy is one of the greatest midget racers, and he’s always run well here but had rotten luck,” Kruseman said.
“I was kind of hoping that his luck would go sour again, but it didn’t happen.
“When we were in lapped traffic I had a chance, but I couldn’t do anything with him when it was just us on an open track. His team did a great job, and he did a great job, and they deserved to win.”
Kruseman stumbled during the pre-race warm-up laps and bounced along the inside berm in turn four, and there was some concern that his car was damaged.
“The driver got away from the car a little bit and messed up,” he said. “But it didn’t hurt the car, and we just went on.”
Darland’s third-place finish was his best at the Chili Bowl.
“I felt like I had a car that could win the race if I got some luck,” Darland said. “When you’ve got the competition level you have here, coming from where I did to finish third I feel really good. The Wilke team gave me a great car and I did the best I could.
“I got up over the berm a little bit when I was right there with Cory [on lap 31], and I felt like that might have cost me the race. I didn’t lose a spot, but it hurt my momentum. When they got to traffic I caught them, but that’s all I could do. I can beat myself up about my mistake, but it’s over with now. You just move on.”
Fourth was Josh Ford, with ARDC great Ray Bull turning in a splendid drive from 13th to finish fifth. The second five consisted of New Zealand star and Chili Bowl rookie Michael Pickens (from 19th), P.J. Jones, Bobby East. Tim McCreadie and Brian Gerster (from 17th). Pickens’s great run made him the likely winner of rookie-of-the-year honors.
The 50-lap finale capped a long day of racing that included a whopping total of 19 qualifying features before a standing-room-only crowd.
Feature (50 laps):
- Tracy Hines;
- Cory Kruseman;
- Dave Darland;
- Josh Ford;
- Ray Bull;
- Michael Pickens;
- P.J. Jones;
- Bobby East;
- Tim McCreadie;
- Brian Gerster;
- Danny Lasoski;
- Jerry Coons, Jr.;
- Bud Kaeding;
- Jon Stanbrough;
- Tyler Walker;
- Kevin Olson;
- Rich Camfield;
- Brandon Waelti;
- Paul White;
- David Gough;
- Chad DeSelle;
- Gary Wright;
- Tony Stewart;
- Casey Shuman.
Wednesday Night Preliminary: Josh Ford
Thursday Night Preliminary: Tracy Hines
Friday Night Preliminary: Cory Kruseman