Chili Bowl Entry Count Climbs To 255

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TULSA, Okla. — More than 250 entries from 29 states, Australia and New Zealand have been filed for the 25th running of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Raceway in January.

While anticipation continues to build for the annual event, the Tulsa Expo Raceway quarter-mile clay oval will be put to the test next weekend during the 26th annual Tulsa Shootout.

Approximately 20 drivers already entered in the Chili Bowl will get an early look at the track by racing in the Shootout, including past Shootout champions Brady Bacon, Donnie Ray Crawford, Kevin Bayer and Gary Taylor. The Tulsa Shootout, expected to attract approximately 700 entries, will include six classes of micro sprint cars along with 1200cc mini sprint cars and the Chevy ECOTech midgets.

While Bacon tries to add a third Golden Driller in Shootout competition, he’ll take the wheel of a Keith Kunz Motorsports entry for the Chili Bowl as he tries to become just the second Oklahoma driver to win the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals and first to pull off the feat since Andy Hillenburg took the top spot in 1994.

Crawford, aboard the Hard 8 Racing entry, will try for a third Chili Bowl championship feature start while Bayer, the 2009 Multi king at the Tulsa Shootout, tries to crack the Chili Bowl finale for the first time.

Taylor, a native of Snohomish, Wash., joins the potent Loyet Motorsports stable that includes defending Chili Bowl Race of Champions winner Brad Loyet, 2008 Chili Bowl champion Damion Gardner, New Zealand’s Michael Pickens and Arizona native Casey Shuman, who topped this past weekend’s event in DuQuoin, Ill.

Several others competing in both the Tulsa Shootout and Chili Bowl include Tim Crawley, Kevin Ramey, Dustin Morgan, Andrew Felker, Jonathan Beason, Matt Sherrell, Justin Melton, Evan Sewell, Andrew Deal, Billy Lawhead and Chili Bowl rookies Cameron Hagin, Alex Sewell, Layne Himebaugh and Tyler Courtney.

While several more Chili Bowl entries have trickled in recent days to bring the total number up to 255, one notable driver change has taken place as Chad Boat will take the wheel of the Minarik No. 98 that was originally slated to be driven by P.J. Jones.

Boat, the 18-year-old son of 1997 Chili Bowl champion Billy Boat, made the cut for his first Chili Bowl main event last January.