A number of NASCAR drivers will be competing in the 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Among the group are Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson, who both will be racing for new teams after spending successful years with Keith Kunz Motorsports.
Bell, who will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut with Leavine Family Racing in next month’s Daytona 500, is seeking a record-tying fourth straight win in the prestigious event. Bell will race for Tucker-Boat Motorsports in the No. 84X and will see his qualifying night come on Thursday.
“I understand that going to the Chili Bowl with a new team compared to going to the Chili Bowl with Keith, which I have won three in a row, it’s going to be difficult,” said Bell, who is looking to tie Kevin Swindell’s consecutive Chili Bowl win mark (2010-2013).
For Bell, the move to North Carolina and becoming good friends with Chad Boat were a big reason he made the move to TBM. Not to mention, being able to spend time in the race shop – something he did when he was in Indiana at KKM – and be hands on versus just showing up to drive the car.
“For me dirt racing is about going to the race track and enjoying it,” Bell said. “Being around friends and just being a part of it. I love just going to the shop and tinkering on the cars and sitting in the race car. I get to be more of a part of it with Chad compared to at KKM.”
Including Bell, Tucker-Boat’s Chili Bowl driver lineup is at six that includes Motor Racing Network announcer Dillon Welch and two-time and reigning All Star Circuit of Champions champion Aaron Reutzel.
Larson, who has captured a number of big midget wins in the off-season, including the Hangtown 100, the Turkey Night Grand Prix and the Gateway Nationals, will race his own car.
“The first time at Chili Bowl in my own stuff,” said Larson, who will race in Tuesday’s qualifying night. “First time I have been away from Keith there in a long time. It’s really the first time that I haven’t been on a big team there since my first two Chili Bowls. It will be different and it’s something I’m looking forward to…Not being in the main pit there with eyes on me the whole time. It will be a little different but I’m excited for it.”
Last year, Larson finished second after being passed by Bell on the final lap. It was his best finish, and third top five, in eight A-Main appearances in the Chili Bowl. Both Bell and Larson each have five preliminary night feature wins in Tulsa.
Other NASCAR drivers among the over 350 entries include Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Ellis (made two Xfinity starts in 2019), Ryan Newman, JJ Yeley and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Yeley, who competed in 31 races among NASCAR’s top three divisions last season, will be making his silver anniversary in the Chili Bowl after eight A-Main appearances.
“It’s hard to believe this will be my 25th year of racing the Tulsa Chili Bowl,” said Yeley, who finished a career-best second in 2007. “I have multiple podium finishes but still looking for that elusive Golden Driller to go with my collection of trophies. The competition and quality of equipment with over 300 cars, makes this race one of the hardest events to win.”
David Gravel, a 51-time career feature winner in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. just announced he will compete in six Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races in 2020 with GMS Racing. Gravel finished 18th last year in the Chili Bowl A-Main and will return for the sixth time in 2020.