Chili Bowl 2014: Clauson’s Big Night
The 29th annual Chili Bowl Nationals will be held Jan. 13-17 at the River Spirit Expo Center at Tulsa’s Expo Square.
Leading up to the Chili Bowl, SPEED SPORT will publish some of the race reports that appeared on www.nationalspeedsportnews.com or in the pages of National Speed Sport News for the first 28 runnings of the event.
TULSA, Okla. — Many-time USAC champion Bryan Clauson finally earned his first Golden Driller trophy Saturday night, topping the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire at Tulsa Expo Raceway.
“I’m just really relieved I didn’t throw it away because these guys are really good,” said Clauson.“I said it last night in the press conference that I felt like I had a car that could compete for the win tonight from the time we unloaded the car. It was really going to be a matter of not burying ourselves.”
Jumping to second on the start, Clauson pursued Caleb Armstrong for the lead early on.
Looking low on the fourth round of the quarter-mile dirt track with no success, Clauson regrouped with an inside line pass the following lap. Leaving Armstrong to contend with Christopher Bell, the driver of the Keith Kunz No. 97 continually worked the inside line, looking for a hole to squeeze through, but to no avail.
The first yellow flag during the 55-lap event came on lap 13 when Thomas Meseraull stopped with engine problems. Damion Gardner flipped on the restart.
Racing to second on the restart, Bell began working high as the cushion began coming to life.
Losing third to Jonathan Beason on lap 18, Armstrong began feeling the pressure from Sammy Swindell. A four-car race for the podium step between Beason, Armstrong, Swindell, and 15th-starting Kyle Larson, things took a turn as the field worked on the 25th lap.
Looking low on Swindell entering the back straightaway, Larson and Sammy tangled with Larson’s No. 71k climbing the left side tires of Swindell, sending the California driver nose down on the left front, as Swindell’s car cut hard to the left, putting the No. 1 into the infield.
Larson held sixth, but his race ended with engine failure on lap 29.