TULSA, Okla. – After being regarded as one of the pre-race favorites coming into Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying Night at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, Tyler Courtney endured a performance that was disappointing by both his and Clauson-Marshall Racing’s standards.
Courtney started third in the 25-lap preliminary night feature but didn’t have the speed to remain up front. He faded back through the top five and ultimately finished sixth, placing him in the middle of a B-main field for Saturday night’s finale.
A former preliminary night winner and perennial contender at the Chili Bowl, Courtney is seeking his third-straight appearance in the 55-lap championship A-main, but admitted that his lackluster prelim night run will make achieving that task a good bit tougher.
“It certainly doesn’t help us any,” lamented Courtney. “We just have to do what we can to learn from tonight and then move on, because if you let yourself get down about a prelim night, you’re taking yourself out of the battle that really matters. The anxiety is higher than the last couple of years, because it’s the first time in a while that I haven’t locked in, but we’ve got time left to figure things out still.”
Courtney appeared puzzled when he climbed from the car and confirmed as much later on.
“I don’t know quite what got us, to be honest. We just missed something there in the feature,” Courtney admitted. “It sucks, but fortunately we still finished in the top 10, so we’re in a B for Saturday. That in itself kind of sucks, because you never know what can happen and those things can get hairy, but I still feel like we’ll have a car that is capable of racing into the feature on Saturday night.”
– On the flip side of the coin, a name that more than a few people were surprised to see near the head of the field was that of Jonathan Beason, who drove from 10th to third in the 25-lap feature.
Beason, 30, is not a full-time racer and told SPEED SPORT Tuesday night he probably has less than 20 starts in a midget to his name. However, he’s made plenty of noise inside the Tulsa Expo Center and hopes to do so again this weekend.
“This is a hobby that I’m fairly good at. I’d love to go and race full-time, but it’s just not in the cards for me with a full-time job and a family in the picture,” Beason explained. “In my position where you just don’t get the laps that some of these other guys do, it’s tough, but I think we can have another really good showing this weekend just like we did a few years ago.”
Beason’s career-best mark at the Chili Bowl is a fourth-place finish in 2011, the year he qualified for his first Saturday A-main. He narrowly missed out on a Golden Driller during the recent Tulsa Shootout.
– If there was an award for Roller-Coaster Night, New York’s Larry Wight would have won it on Tuesday night after one of the wilder preliminary efforts in recent memory.
Wight flipped into the catchfence during his qualifier, rebounded to win his B-main and then had an engine expire in a huge cloud of smoke with five laps left in the 25-lap feature Tuesday night.
Talk about an up-and-down evening.
– Kyle Larson’s win on Tuesday gave Keith Kunz his fifth preliminary night win in the last six events as a car owner at the Chili Bowl.
Kunz won three out of four in 2018 and has swept both prelim victories so far this year.
– Tuesday’s on-track activities pushed the Fastenal Flip Count to 15 across two nights of racing, with four more nights still to follow close behind.
Wight’s wild ride was easily the most spectacular moment of the evening, while at this pace, the tally is only projected to hit 45. That would be on par with where the number was two years ago, in 2017.
SPEED SPORT’s Chili Bowl coverage is presented by MyRacePass, the official timing and scoring app of the 2019 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Fans can download the MyRacePass app on their phones to follow all the action during the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. For more information on MyRacePass, visit www.myracepass.com. All of SPEED SPORT’s Live From The Chili Bowl presented by MyRacePass coverage can be found by clicking here.
Watch The Chili Bowl Live: The Chili Bowl will be shown live online on www.racinboys.com. The online PPV experience will run from Monday through Saturday’s qualifiers. At the time of opening ceremonies (6 p.m. local time) on Saturday, Racinboys PPV coverage will cease as the final features will be shown live on MAVTV (more information here).