TULSA, Okla. — Jason McDougal was the recipient of Wednesday night’s Jason Leffler Memorial/Spire Sports and Entertainment “Elbows Up” Award at the Chili Bowl, and after watching him storm through the alphabet soup, it was easy to see why.
McDougal passed 34 cars during Hard Rock Casino Night, having to rally back after getting bottle-necked in his heat race and ending up in the loose dirt at the top of the track, nearly stalling and finishing sixth to end up mired in the second C Main of the night.
It was there where the Broken Arrow, Okla., young gun made his charge. McDougal started 11th and surged up to third to make the transfer onto the back of the B main, where he then rolled off 15th and picked off 13 cars to finish second and make his preliminary feature.
McDougal was just as methodical in the feature, rolling the bottom as well as anyone had all week as he passed drivers one by one, quietly going from 20th to seventh in 25 laps and setting himself up solidly for Saturday’s championship program in the process.
The 20-year-old will fire off in one of the two 22-lap B mains on finale night, with a realistic shot at racing his way into his first Chili Bowl feature after winning three Golden Drillers at the Tulsa Shootout last month.
“Man, that’s never the way you want to do it, but that was a lot of fun,” said McDougal. “If we can keep that much speed for Saturday … look out.”
• While the focus in Wednesday night’s preliminary feature was on the torrid battle between the top three, there was quite a bit of position swapping going on behind that trio as well in the closing laps.
Chris Windom and Ryan Robinson — representing the super-rivalry between powerhouses Clauson-Marshall Racing and Keith Kunz Motorsports — traded fifth place three times between one another during the closing laps before Windom ultimately got the upper hand.
Both finished exactly where they started, fifth and sixth, and both will head to Saturday’s B mains as they try to join their already locked-in teammates.
• Brady Bacon’s night started out strong after he won the first heat race of the program and advanced into the A-Qualifiers, but it only went downhill after that.
Bacon was coming to the checkered in his qualifier and battling Rico Abreu for the win when he got a little too high in turn four and caught the cushion, flipping wildly before his car landed in the protective fencing at the outer edge of the track.
The former USAC champion climbed from his car uninjured but frustrated after a good night turned sour.
“It just really bites,” Bacon said. “I wasn’t expecting the car to do that at all. … We’ll bounce back, though. I love this race. It just doesn’t seem to love me very much.”
As the 25th member of the Fastenal #FlipCount, Bacon was the recipient of a free HANS Device from Simpson Race Products.
• In all, the week’s #FlipCount ballooned from 13 to 34 through two nights of racing, putting 2018 on record pace to potentially have the most rollovers in Chili Bowl history.
The current record is 61 flips, set back in 2015, the first year that Rico Abreu won the Chili Bowl.
• Nine-time World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz started 11th in Wednesday’s preliminary feature, but bad luck bit the North Dakota native with four laps to go.
As he was moving through the field and in the top 10, Schatz was collected in a parking lot of an accident in turns three and four, suffering enough damage to park his car for the night.
Schatz finished 23rd and will be in a D main on Saturday.
• Speaking of the Clauson-Marshall crew, they had a special member helping to work on their cars Wednesday night, as NASCAR TV personality and former racer Kenny Wallace dropped by the CMR pit.
Wallace later took to Twitter to thank Richard Marshall for the opportunity to help out, calling his night “epic” and cheering on Schatz for the remainder of the weekend.