Chili Bowl 2003: Boorse Trumps Drake
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.
With Last-Lap Chili Bowl Victory
By MIKE KERCHNER
TULSA, Okla. — Dan Boorse played the cards he was dealt Saturday night and stole the 17th annual Chili Bowl Nationals from Jay Drake on the 50th and final tour of the one-sixth-mile dirt oval inside the Tulsa Exposition Center.
Boorse, who started on the pole after winning his Wednesday night qualifying feature, appeared to have a solid top-five finish well within his grasp when several top contenders had their luck run out. Running third behind Mopar teammates Jay Drake and Tony Stewart on the final restart with five laps remaining, the many-time Badger Midget Auto Racing Ass’n champion played his trump card.
With Drake, who had battled from the rear of the field after spinning on the first lap to take the lead when dominant performer Cory Kruseman dropped out with five laps to go, and Stewart battling over the bottom groove, Boorse went to the cushion.
Boorse committed his Gaerte-powered No. 88 to the cushion and stayed there. He passed Stewart for second on lap 48 and slowly ran down Drake.
With the white flag waving, Boorse was even with the leader as the pair exited the second turn. The two raced side by side through turns three and four with Drake on the bottom and Boorse at the top. Boorse got the better run off the top and beat Drake under Roger Slack’s checkered flag by half a car length.
“I wasn’t too good on the bottom, so I knew I had to run the top, but with five to go I thought if I could put five good laps together I had a chance,” Boorse said. “We restarted and they were fighting over the bottom and they just forgot about the cushion.”
It was the second Chili Bowl victory for Boorse, who also won the race in 1999. Boorse earned $10,000 and kept Drake or Stewart from pocketing a $10,000 bonus posted by Mopar, which would have been paid to the winner had he utilized a Mopar engine.
“This is definitely better than the first one,” Boorse said. “Anytime you can win one on the last lap is just great.”
Despite a stellar drive from the rear of the field, Drake was disappointed.
“To lose this race on the last lap is the worst feeling you could ever have,” said Drake. “But on the other hand, after I came from the back like I did, and never took the lead and finished second, I would be the next happiest guy here next to Dan Boorse. But losing the Chili Bowl on the last lap is hard to swallow.”
Drake acknowledged that he generally does not like to run the bottom groove. “Whenever I do, something like this usually happens,” he said.
Stewart finished third, with Aaron Fike and Scott Hatton rounding out the top five. Winged-sprint-car regular Jason Meyers, who was racing a midget for the first time, finished sixth.
While Boorse ended up the smiling winner, the race left several contenders broken hearted. Kruseman took the lead from Boorse on the seventh lap and dominated the race until believe it or not, a dead battery dropped him from contention on lap 45.
Sammy Swindell started 17th and was up to second when the engine in his No. 1 expired on lap 22. Dave Darland started 15th and had made his way to second when his night ended on lap 36.
Swindell made his way through the alphabet just to qualify for the feature after starting the night in one of the E mains. J.J. Yeley thrilled the record crowd of 14,630 in similar fashion, starting in the H main. He made it as far as the D.
Feature (50 laps):
- Dan Boorse;
- Jay Drake;
- Tony Stewart;
- Aaron Fike;
- Scott Hatton;
- Jason Meyers;
- Don Droud, Jr.;
- Matt Westfall;
- Mike Hess;
- Damion Gardner;
- Nick Lundgreen;
- P.J. Jones;
- Cory Kruseman;
- Greg Lueckert;
- Dallen McKenney;
- Dave Darland;
- Luke Icke;
- Jimmy Sills;
- Brian Gerster;
- Sammy Swindell;
- Jeff Flesher;
- Danny Lasoski;
- Robby Flock;
- Randy Koch.
Wednesday Night Preliminary: Dan Boorse
Thursday Night Preliminary: Scott Hatton
Friday Night Preliminary: Cory Kruseman