INDOOR: Thorson Bests Loaded Field for First VIROC Crown During Chili Bowl Opening Night

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TULSA, Okla. — official event release — TeeJay Crawford photo —

In a stunning display, the eighth annual Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions found a new champion on Tuesday night at the 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.

2015 National Midget Driver of the Year Tanner Thorson, driving for legendary car owner Keith Kunz, held off the hard charging No. 71K of teammate and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kyle Larson to win the all-star event for the first time in his debut attempt. The Arizona young gun qualified for the 20-lap race by virtue of his NMDoTY crown, scored in November over reigning Chili Bowl champion Rico Abreu.

Taking advantage of a restart near the race’s half-way point, Thorson snagged the lead from Tracy Hines and was joined by 2014 VIROC winner Larson in the process. The pair dueled nearly the entire last half of the 20-lap affair, with Thorson able to hold off several attempts at a Larson slide-job en route to victory lane.

Thorson becomes the fifth different winner of the prestigious event, joining four-time champion Sammy Swindell (2009, 2011-2012, 2015), Brad Loyet (2010), Kevin Swindell (2013) and Larson (2014).

The California native and NASCAR regular had to settle for second at the checkered flag, his third-straight VIROC top-five in his fifth-straight race appearance. Hines, Bryan Clauson and Christopher Bell rounded out the top five.

For more information on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, visit


RESULTS: 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals; Vacuworx International Race of Champions; River Spirit Expo Center; Jan. 12, 2016

VIROC VIII (20 Laps): 1. 67-Tanner Thorson[4]; 2. 71K-Kyle Larson[5]; 3. 24-Tracy Hines[1]; 4. 63-Bryan Clauson[12]; 5. 71-Christopher Bell[16]; 6. 15X-Chad Boat[9]; 7. 6K-Dave Darland[7]; 8. 67Z-Kasey Kahne[8]; 9. 47-Danny Stratton[2]; 10. 47X-Tim McCreadie[3]; 11. 5-Jerry Coons Jr[6]; 12. 97-Rico Abreu[17]; 13. 1ST-J.J. Yeley[10]; 14. 21K-Cory Kruseman[14]; 15. 4-Damion Gardner[13]; 16. 05-Brad Loyet[19]; 17. 22H-John Heydenreich[11]; 18. (DNF) 1-Sammy Swindell[18]; 19. (DNF) 39S-Kevin Thomas Jr[15]

CREDIT: Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals

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