TULSA, Okla. — official release — Patrick Grant photo —
For the past couple years, the entry list for the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals has flirted with the 300 mark.
Once again, the number of teams registering for the indoor Midget event is nearing the three century mark with 285 entries received for the 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, happening Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 through Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.
Of the 290 received in 2014, 281 made the call to match the Chili Bowl record set in 2009.
Confirming 271 drivers, the latest wave has lifted the Chili Bowl Champion’s list to eight as 1990 champion, John Heydenreich returns to Tulsa to compete in the Chili Bowl for the first time since 2011. Also joining the lineup of winners is Cory Kruseman. Earning the center step of the podium in 2000 and 2004, Kruseman will keep five rides at this pit for the 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire.
Winning as a team owner in 2005, the formidable Wilke-Pak lineup brings plenty of talent with reigning USAC National Champion Brady Bacon and USAC Triple Crown Champion Jerry Coons Jr. The pair will be looking for a second Golden Driller for Wilke-Pak, and a first for either driver.
Keith Kunz will up the car count to five in 2015 with 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Kyle Larson joining an all-star lineup which includes National Midget Driver of the Year Christopher Bell, who amassed 27 wins on both asphalt and dirt in 2014. Rico Abreu brings momentum into the 2015 Chili Bowl. The 2014 USAC National Midget Champion, the California phenom posted 24 wins this past season across multiple disciplines of racing. Tanner Thorson and Kevin Thomas Jr. complete the lineup of Toyota powered machines.
Of the 205 drivers that have made the cut on Saturday night, 51 have found their way to this year’s entry list with the pile of first timers climbing to 68 and again, the talent is heavy despite the title.
Oklahoma leads the state count with 50 drivers. Turning heads with a 2014 preliminary night win, Jonathan Beason, will again team with Hard 8 Racing with Blake Hahn and Harli White. A strong west coast presence so far, 47 drivers call the left-cost home, including a dozen Chili Bowl Rookies.
A breakdown of qualifying nights will be released during the Speedway Motors Tulsa Shootout, happening December 31, 2014 through January 3, 2015.
CREDIT: Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals