TULSA, Okla. – This year’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at Tulsa Expo Raceway will be extremely memorable for the Elledge family for several reasons.
For one, this week’s event marks the Chili Bowl debut for Karsyn Elledge, who will drive a Toyota-powered entry out of the Tucker-Boat Motorsports stable as she looks to conquer the Super Bowl of Midget Racing.
In addition, Elledge will be racing this week against her father – former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winning crew chief Jimmy Elledge – as the pair battles it out on the race track in midgets for the first time.
Both firsts are things that the younger Elledge relishes, considering that she’s spent a fair amount of time racing and winning against her father in outlaw karts over her young career.
“Regardless of how you do during the week, the chance to roll into this building and roll down the ramp onto that dirt is a pretty surreal feeling, but to have the opportunity to do it with my dad racing in the same event and under the Toyota banner is something I couldn’t have dreamed up,” Karsyn Elledge told SPEED SPORT. “It means so much to have him here and doing this right along with me. I’ve gotten to be here the last couple of years and gotten to see it from the spectator’s side, but never the driver’s side and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to do that.
“I’m used to racing against dad in my outlaw kart, so I know he won’t cut me any slack if we end up in the same race together on Saturday,” she continued. “I’m excited, though, because we’ve never raced against each other in anything but the outlaw karts … so I actually hope we do land in the same race on Saturday, even if that will make it a little bit more intense.”
For Jimmy Elledge, the opportunity to race alongside his daughter at the Chili Bowl was one he couldn’t pass up on trying to make happen.
When an 11th-hour seat opened up with Daum Motorsports, the senior Elledge called team owner Zach Daum and struck the deal without a second thought.
“The whole reason I agreed and fought to come and do this is because Karsyn was racing; otherwise, I’m not sure I would have worked this hard to make it happen,” said Jimmy Elledge. “Zach had someone cancel on this situation and I had a sponsor who helped me put this deal together at the last minute.
“When I got to thinking about it, I told myself I’m not getting any younger and I’d hate to see a missed opportunity,” he added. “If nothing else, it’ll be something cool for the both of us to have pictures of down the road.”
Karsyn Elledge has already competed in a handful of midget races with Tucker-Boat Motorsports, something she believes will aid her in figuring out what she needs on her preliminary night a lot quicker.
“I think having already worked with everyone at Tucker-Boat Motorsports will help me get comfortable quickly,” she noted. “I know it’s a lot to get used to, because the Chili Bowl in a midget is crazier than anything else I’ve ever raced in my career, but I raced the Tulsa Shootout as well before I came here for Chili Bowl and I think that was beneficial in a lot of ways as well.
“Just to be able to get on the race track and know how it changes was really important for me.”
As far as the pressure goes, the rookie knows it’s there, but she’s not worried about it at this point.
“This is definitely the biggest race of my career so far,” said Karsyn Elledge. “I don’t want to get caught up in stressing about it, though. I just want to turn laps, not tear the car up … and maybe this is wishful thinking, but I’m hoping to get to a G main or better on Saturday and make a qualifier on my preliminary night. If we can do that, I’d feel really good about everything, for sure.
“There’s a lot of heavy hitters on Thursday, but we’ll see how it all shakes out.”
Jimmy Elledge was quick to point out, though, that it’s not likely he’ll have much advice to give his daughter before she gets out on track.
“If anything, she’s going to be the one giving me advice,” he laughed. “She’s the expert in these things.”
It’s just one more example of the family nature of the Chili Bowl playing out in memorable fashion.
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).