Larson Opens Chili Bowl A Winner
TULSA, Okla. — Fresh off a four-race sweep in New Zealand, Kyle Larson kept his streak of wins alive, celebrating a well-deserved victory with steering wheel absent donuts following a superb battle with Brady Bacon in Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying A-Feature presented by U.S. Fleet Tracking, which kicked off the 27th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at Tulsa Expo Raceway.
Earning the lead spot in the night’s feature line-up, Larson stayed on point for the first three rounds before surrendering the top spot on lap three as Bacon sailed the cushion off turn four.
“I knew it was going to get to the top within a few laps,” said Larson. “I really was focusing on finishing in the top three and wasn’t really too worried about him (Brady Bacon) getting by me but he was setting such a fast pace and I didn’t know how fast the other guys were behind me.”
With the majority of the field following suit to the cushion, slower traffic would approach quickly with the leaders finding the tail of the field by lap 10.
Taking to the hub to advance through traffic, the time spent around the berm was enough to allow Larson to begin closing the distance between the two.
As the pair of leaders raced on into heavier and heavier traffic, Tony Stewart and Casey Shuman continued a race long contest for the show position with Stewart putting the Chevrolet Performance No. 14 into the third spot on the sixteenth round.
Asked about the track, specifically being able to roll the bottom, Stewart replied, “At the beginning I think when they watered it was still a little bit greasy when we first started the race. It went away in a couple of laps but it was difficult for the first couple of laps to get going down there. As the pace kind of slowed down, my car got better from the halfway point on.”
As Stewart settled into third, Bacon raced to lap 18 with Larson finding his chance at the lead with traffic holding Bacon to the bottom of the Tulsa Expo Raceway. Taking the PPM No. 99 back to the cushion, Larson dived the bottom of turn one, pulling even with Brady down the back straightaway to take the lead entering turn three only to see the caution flag wave in turns one and two; reverting the field to the last fully completed lap.
Restarting with 18 laps complete, Larson wasted no time going for the slide job, taking the lead exiting turn one and leading the remaining seven circuits.
“I got a big run on him into one and slid him, and that was kind of the move of the race” commented Larson. “After that I just focused on hitting my marks.”
Bacon tried for the lead in the closing laps but fell short with Tony Stewart taking the final step on the podium. Casey Shuman held on for a fourth-place finish with Chris Windom filling the top five.