TULSA, Okla. — Officials with the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals have confirmed the driver lineup for the third running of the Vacuworx International Race of Champions at the Tulsa Expo Raceway.
The invitation-only event, scheduled for Jan. 11 during Warren CAT Qualifying night for the Chili Bowl, features former Chili Bowl winners and top midget drivers from around the world.
Brad Loyet of Sunset Hills, Mo., is the defending winner of the event and will attempt to become the first driver to win the Vacuworx International Race of Champions two consecutive times.
Loyet was awarded a spot in the second edition of the Race of Champions after a 21-win 2009 season, the first such season in midget racing since Billy Boat knocked down 21 wins in 1995. Loyet made the most of it by taking the win after five-time Chili Bowl champion Sammy Swindell topped the inaugural VIROC in 2009.
The field for VIROC III is as follows:
Sammy Swindell — The only driver in Chili Bowl history to take more than two Golden Drillers, the legendary sprint-car shoe has claimed five Chili Bowl triumphs.
J.J. Yeley — One of two VIROC wildcards, the past USAC triple crown champ has spent the bulk of the past several seasons among the NASCAR ranks.
Dave Darland — After his Chili Bowl record run of 10 consecutive championship feature starts was snapped last year, Darland takes the wheel of the Wilke-Pak entry in the Race of Champions.
Brad Loyet — The reigning VIROC champ bagged another 13 wins in 2010 along with the POWRi National Midget Series title.
Damion Gardner — After snaring the Golden Driller in 2008, Gardner joins forces with the Loyet Motorsports camp for the 2011 Chili Bowl.
Scott Hatton — The four-time Badger Midget champ, most recently in 2009, bested a field of 48 competitors in the second edition of the Chili Bowl Nationals in 1988.
Jay Drake — The 2001 Chili Bowl champion hooks up with car owner Scooter Ellis for the 2011 Chili Bowl.
Cory Kruseman — One of only four drivers to post multiple Chili Bowl wins, Kruseman captured the Golden Driller for the first time in 2000 and then again in 2004.
Tracy Hines — One of just ten drivers in event history to start 10 or more Saturday championship features, Hines put the Wilke-Pak team in Chili Bowl victory lane in 2005.
Johnny Heydenreich — The winner of the Chili Bowl Nationals in 1990, Heydenreich is back for his 20th Chili Bowl in 2011.
Kevin Swindell — The son of five-time Chili Bowl winner Sammy Swindell outdid his old man and 254 others to become the youngest winner in Chili Bowl history last January at just 20 years of age.
Bryan Clauson — His second consecutive National Midget Driver of the Year Award along with his second consecutive victories in both the Belleville Midget Nationals and Turkey Night Grand Prix earned Clauson a VIROC wildcard bid.
Tim McCreadie —The dirt-late-model and modified ace still ranks as the only Chili Bowl winner without a primarily open-wheel background.
Garrett Hansen — Hansen handles the driving duties for Andy Bondio, a three-time car-owning Chili Bowl champion with Lealand McSpadden (1991) and Cory Kruseman (2000 and 2004).
Cole Whitt — Last year’s Chili Bowl runner-up represents the Keith Kunz Motorsports team that took top Bowl honors on back-to-back occasions with Jay Drake (2001) and Tony Stewart (2002).
Jason Leffler — Wheeling a Kasey Kahne Racing entry, the 10-time Chili Bowl championship main event starter earned his Golden Driller as the owner of Damion Gardner’s 2008 winning mount.
The starting grid for the Vacuworx International Race of Champions will be determined by the fans. Some lucky fans will be plucked from the crowd to select from some randomly marked Lucas Oil Products, in effect drawing for the starting position of the driver they’ve been paired with.