TULSA, Okla. – Reigning POWRi Engler Machine & Tool Outlaw Micro League champion Gunner Ramey has landed a ride with Jack Yeley for the upcoming Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
Ramey, from Sedalia, Mo., will pilot the No. 0G Ripper-Fontana owned by Yeley, the father of USAC Triple Crown champion J.J. Yeley, in his debut appearance at the Chili Bowl.
The 17-year-old will have support from Glenn Styres Racing, Ohsweken Speedway, Jeff Taylor and Enriam Dynamics as he competes against an all-star cast of midget racers and contends for rookie-of-the-year honors in the crown jewel event.
Next month’s Chili Bowl will mark just Ramey’s second-ever start in a midget car.
“I’m chomping at the bit to get started,” said Ramey. “It has been a pretty crazy year, with the (micro) championship and winning that. That was a really cool accomplishment and we had a very good year within the micros, so this is really the next step and felt like the right move for me. It’s definitely very high quality equipment, and there will be a lot of knowledge and a lot of good people around me.
“I’m very excited to get going with it and see what we can make out of it.”
Ramey didn’t win a race this season in POWRi Outlaw Micro competition, but he did compile perfect attendance across the 17-race schedule and scored 12 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes along the way, defeating runner-up Joe B. Miller by 370 points in the final tally.
Winning the championship was a big boost to his efforts of finding a Chili Bowl ride, said Ramey.
“We had a really good year and really consistent year, and a lot of people saw that, I think,” Ramey noted. “It kind of helps when you’re going into something like this, to be able to say that you won a national championship. That kind of adds to your resume a little bit.
“Honestly, I really wasn’t planning on running the Chili Bowl, just because as far as working on stuff for next year, I didn’t really want to go in and say, ‘Hey, let’s drop seven or eight grand for a good Chili Bowl ride,’” Ramey continued. “But myself and my dad and Jeff (Taylor, from Rockwell Security) worked on this and then got involved with Jack and Judy Yeley and talked to them a lot … and we just kind of got working on it.
“Fortunately I was able to work the deal out with all of them to make a Chili Bowl ride happen.”
Ramey’s debut midget start came at Lake Ozark Speedway in his home state on May 26, during a POWRi National Midget League and POWRi Western Midget League co-sanctioned event.
Though he only finished 15th in that race, Ramey caught Taylor’s eye and seeds for the future were planted.
“I guess Jeff liked what he saw in me there and after that, we got in contact with him and just stayed in regular contact with him,” explained Ramey. “I’ve used him as a soundboard or a resource, you know, just to throw ideas at him and talk to him for advice and stuff like that as far as the racing business goes. That’s been the biggest thing for me with Jeff, has been talking to him about the racing business and how to go about everything on that side. He’s taught me a lot there.”
While Ramey wants to win like any other driver, he knows that going into an event like the Chili Bowl Nationals, he has to pace himself and keep his goals realistic as he enters the week-long sojourn.
“I’m a little bit nervous, but I’m definitely excited,” Ramey said of his impending Chili Bowl debut. “It’s one of those deals where for me, obviously I want to do the best I can, but at the same time I look at it and go, ‘Well, we need to set attainable goals and just go into it really focused on just getting better every time we’re on the track.’ I want to make some good laps. I don’t need to go in there thinking I’m going to win the thing. Everyone wants to win, but you have to set realistic goals.
“For us, I think we can make the prelim night A-main, and I just want to pass cars every time we’re on the track and get better every time we hit the track,” Ramey added. “If we can make some good laps and consistent laps, and hopefully if we pass some cars every time we’re on the track and we can make the prelim night A-main, then we can put ourselves in a solid position for success. I think that’s definitely a big thing in itself. If we can get there and pass some cars and do the best we can to set us up for Saturday, then they’ll know we’re there and it would be a really great week for us in Tulsa.
“But like I said, my biggest goal is making the main on my prelim night and going from there.”
The 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals takes place Jan. 13-18 inside the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Okla. Christopher Bell is the three-time defending winner of the event.
SPEED SPORT’s Chili Bowl coverage is presented by MyRacePass, the official timing and scoring app of the 2020 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 and use the hashtag #GetTheApp on Twitter!