TULSA, Okla. (January 14, 2014) — Patrick Grant photo — Almost two-years to the day after losing his friend and former teammate Donnie Ray Crawford, who passed away in 2012, Jonathan Beason was able to dedicate his Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals preliminary night win to his late comrade and colleague, taking the Hard 8 Racing No. 8J to his first Chili Bowl prelim win in Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifier.
Accumulating the highest combined passing points through Heats and Qualifiers, Beason earned the pole for the 25 lap affair; never relinquishing the point even as Zach Daum and Alex Bright pursued the Oklahoma shoe through heavy slower traffic in the closing laps.
Asked about his level of nervousness getting through the feature, Beason replied, “I was really worried. I race 10 times a year now. This was my second midget race; I guess this would be my first one this year. I haven’t really dealt with lapped traffic like these guys have. I was worried but thankfully; I saw their noses a couple of times, but I figured lapped cars were going to be in their way too.”
Slowing once on Lap 3 for the stalled No. 11W of Tyler Courtney, green flag laps found the leaders at the back of the field by Lap 11.
Taking a shot at the lead before the tenth round, Alex Bright settled back in line before relinquishing the runner spot to Illinois’ Zach Daum on Lap 10.
Trading blows for the silver position, Daum and Bright never allowed Beason to gain a sizable advantage as traffic kept the race for the lead tight. Trying for the inside pass as laps waned, Daum’s attempt was foiled as the high-line cleared, allowing Beason the advantage, and the win by 0.852 seconds, despite a slower car nearly losing control in front of the leaders at the finish.
“I wasn’t going throw nothing stupid at him,” commented Daum of his attempts at the lead. “I could’ve thrown a slide job, but as slick as the track was, it was going to crash both of us. There was no reason to do that. We just wanted to lock ourselves in the show and that’s what we did.”
Alex Bright earned the final transfer into Saturday’s 55 lap, championship event. “I never expected to make the A-Main this year, but I did think I would get into the prelim night feature,” commented a very happy Alex Bright. “To be locked in is quite amazing and hopefully we can move forward in the A-Main.”
Gary Taylor came from seventh to fourth, and Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions winner Kyle Larson advanced 11 spots to complete the top five after engine problems gridded the No. 71K sixteenth.
Shane Cottle crossed sixth with Thomas Meseraull emerging as the night’s Hard Charger, clawing from twentieth to seventh. Eighth was R.J. Johnson, Joey Moughan crossed ninth and Brady Bacon completing the top ten.
Larson’s victory in the VIROC VI broke a streak of three consecutive Swindell wins in the $2,500 to win, 20 lap Race of Champions, and puts the California driver as the fourth different winner, joining Sammy Swindell (2009, 2011, and 2012), Kevin Swindell (2013), and Brad Loyet (2010). Leading by Lap 10 after starting sixth, Larson was unchallenged to the finish.
Of the 70 scheduled drivers from Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying night, 69 made the call. A pair of Chili Bowl rookies earned staring spots in the A-Feature. Jeb Sessums finished fourteenth after starting twenty-second. Australia’s Mathew Smith ended up twenty-second after starting fourteenth. Four drivers flipped during the night no injuries reported.
The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire continues with Wednesday’s River Spirit Casino Qualifying Night. Races begin at 6:00 P.M. (CT) with Hot Laps at 5:00 P.M. For additional information on the Chili Bowl, log onto http://www.chilibowl.com.
RESULTS: Chili Bowl Midget Nationals Warren CAT Qualifying Night – Tuesday
VIROC VI (20 Laps): 1. 71K-Kyle Larson; 2. 47-Damion Gardner; 3. 97-Christopher Bell; 4. 05-Brad Loyet; 5. 24-Tracy Hines; 6. 5-Jerry Coons Jr; 7. 21K-Cory Kruseman; 8. 71-Kasey Kahne; 9. 63-Bryan Clauson; 10. 1-Sammy Swindell; 11. 39-Kevin Swindell; 12. 1ST-J.J. Yeley; 13. 15X-Chad Boat; 14. (DNF) 47X-Tim McCreadie; 15. (DNF) 4AU-Mathew Smith
A-Feature: 25 Laps, top 3 lock into Saturday’s Championship Feature.
A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 8J-Jonathan Beason; 2. 5D-Zach Daum; 3. 77-Alex Bright; 4. 05T-Gary Taylor; 5. 71K-Kyle Larson; 6. 71C-Shane Cottle; 7. 16-Thomas Meseraull; 8. 51J-R.J. Johnson; 9. 7JM-Joey Moughan; 10. 99-Brady Bacon; 11. 4J-Tim Crawley; 12. 44-Don Droud Jr; 13. 39C-Joey Saldana; 14. 2ND-Jeb Sessums; 15. 50-Daniel Adler; 16. 55F-Taylor Ferns; 17. 38-Billy Wease; 18. 7A-Dalton Armstrong; 19. 17E-Blake Edwards; 20. 19-Steven Drevicki; 21. 1W-Paul White; 22. 4AU-Mathew Smith; 23. (DNF) 98-P.J. Jones; 24. (DNF) 11W-Tyler Courtney