Chili Bowl 1999: Dan Boorse Lassos Cash In Single-File Chili Bowl
The 25th annual Chili Bowl Nationals will be held Jan. 11-15 at the QuickTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway.
In celebration of the Silver Anniversary of this prestigious indoor midget race, www.nationalspeedsportnews.com will be publishing the race reports that appeared in the pages of National Speed Sport News for the first 24 runnings of the event.
Beginning with the inaugural event in 1987, race recaps will be posted on a daily basis from Dec. 18 through Jan. 10.
13th Running Lucky For Boorse
By MIKE O’LEARY
TULSA, Okla. – Five-time BMARA midget champion Dan Boorse scored the biggest victory of his career as he captured Saturday’s 13th annual Chili Bowl at Tulsa Expo Raceway. Boorse assumed the lead on lap five when Kevin Doty suffered a flat tire and Boorse outran Cory Kruseman and Sammy Swindell to win by a straightaway.
“I was trying to make every lap perfect but it was really tough,” Boorse said. “In the Chili Bowl there’s no gimmes. I knew everybody would be on my back. I figured Sammy and all those guys would be coming up pretty quick.”
But Saturday’s track was equally difficult for everyone, as other than Doty’s flat tire, there was only one pass for position among the top five. Swindell, the defending Chili Bowl champion, explained the predicament, “It was a tough race track and it was going to be hard to pass anybody. It didn’t matter who it was. It was going to be tough when we got to the traffic to even pass those guys. I had a plan and I had a place, I just didn’t get an opportunity.”
Beginning Saturday’s event was problematic. With little grip around the bottom of the track, drivers starting in the inside lane needed to find room in the top groove before they lost too much ground. With the resulting wheel-banging and chain-reaction incidents, the race was stopped three times before the field completed the first lap.
Two-time USAC midget champ Jason Leffler got tangled mid-pack and rolled in turn two on the first start. Although his car suffered a flat tire, Leffler returned to the tail of the field before the race finally started. On the second green flag, Gary Wright came to a stop in the second turn after cars got knotted in front of him but kept going. Rookie Brian Stanfill had help spinning in the second turn, bringing the third caution.
Doty grabbed the lead in Wilke-Pak Motorsports’ Stealth/Gaerte when the race finally got underway, and the field quickly formed a train in the top groove. In the first two laps, Doty raced 15 lengths ahead of Boorse, Kruseman, Swindell, Jimmy Sills and Steve Knepper. On lap three, Kevin Olson jumped the cushion and stopped near the wall in turn three. Joe Boyles spun to miss a car avoiding Olson, and Leffler slid to a stop to keep from clouting Boyles.
Two laps after the restart, J.J. Yeley got turned sideways in the second turn. Trapped in the groove behind Yeley, Andy Hillenburg, Donnie Beechler and Danny Lasoski piled-in.
The damage put Hillenburg and Lasoski out of the race. With most of the turn blocked, track workers quickly directed the field to cut through the infield. As race leader Doty dodged to avoid hitting wreckers, an official’s 4-wheeler contacted he right rear and the tire deflated. Although the Wilke-Pak team quickly changed the tire, Doty was relegated to taking the green flag from the tail of the field.
Boorse quickly opened three lengths as Swindell challenged Kruseman for second. Ronnie Day turned sideways in turn two and was quickly passed by Jerry Coons, Jr., Steve Kinser and Jay Drake. On the 10th lap, Daryn Pittman created a yellow when he stopped at the exit of turn four. Three green-flag laps late Brian Stanfill rolled in turn one, but workers uprighted Chris Walkers’s Car-Quest TCR and the rookie returned to action.
Back under green, Boorse kept his Weiland Racing Enterprises Stealth in the middle of the top lane, with Kruseman and Swindell three lengths back. When Sills looked under Swindell in the first turn, Knepper battled around him, taking fourth in three and four. This allowed the first three to pull a straightaway ahead.
Battling for 10th, Olson jumped the cushion in turn four after contact with another car, stopping near the outside wall. Kruseman attempted a run under Boorse as they went into the first turn on the lap-16 restart, but Boorse pulled ahead after they banged tires through the second turn and Kruseman fell back in line. Six laps later Kruseman caught Boorse and again tried a pass in turn two. Although he could pull abreast of the leader going into the turn, once out of the groove, Kruseman struggled for grip and Boorse raced ahead.
Boorse caught Boyles’ slower car filling the groove on lap 27 and looked inside as they went into the third turn. When he found he couldn’t make the pass, Boorse moved back to the top, with Kruseman and Swindell on his heels watching for a miscue. But the caution flag ended the action when Steve Kinser stopped in turn two.
On the green, Boorse and Kruseman continued to race nose to tail with open track ahead, but both were still working hard. On lap 30, Kruseman scraped the wall as he came off the second turn. Two laps later Boorse slipped over the cushion in turn three and slapped the wall with his right rear.
Neither incident slowed the leaders. With laps running out and the red No. 88 and silver No. 47 filling the top lane, Swindell tried his Willoughby Stealth/Gaerte on the bottom, but found little to work with. With six circuits remaining, Drake and Leffler wrecked in turn three, the front of Leffler’s Beast bent against the concrete wall.
After the race, the soft-spoken Drake was blunt about what happened, “It’s a one-lane track and he didn’t like to see it that way, so he just started driving into guys. He did it to me all night Thursday and I never said anything about it, and never complained. That time he just blatantly drove into the side of me, so I got him back.”
With the final restart, Swindell continued to test the bottom groove, and Boorse quickly stretched out a dozen-length lead. Once Boorse put the lapped car of Boyles behind him, he extended his advantage to a full straightaway at the checkered flag. Kruseman and Swindell were followed by Knepper, Sills, Day, Coons, Tracy Hines, Yeley and Beechler.
As the top three finished in the same order as in Friday night’s preliminary, Kruseman’s runner-up finish came in his second Chili Bowl feature, driving a car built and entered by Andy Bondio. “As the race went on, I kept getting tighter and tighter,” Kruseman reported. “I was running into the same problems Dan was. He’d hit a hole and make a mistake and I could close a little bit on him, but the last 10 laps I got so tight and he got a lapper in between us, and after he did that I thought I better start protecting a little bit. So, I had to get a rhythm going again, but it seemed like that rhythm never came back. I just tried to be as straight and smooth as I could, but I don’t think it was working, but I tried to give it the best job I could.”
Feature (50 laps):
- Dan Boorse;
- Cory Kruseman;
- Sammy Swindell;
- Steve Knepper;
- Jimmy Sills;
- Ronnie Day;
- Jerry Coons, Jr.;
- Tracy Hines;
- J.J. Yeley;
- Donnie Beechler;
- Kevin Doty;
- Brian Stanfill;
- Matt Westfall;
- Jay Drake;
- Joe Boyles;
- Jason Leffler;
- Steve Kinser;
- Kevin Olson;
- Daryn Pittman;
- Andy Hillenburg;
- Danny Lasoski;
- Gary Wright.
Thursday Night Preliminary: Kevin Doty
Friday Night Preliminary: Dan Boorse