TULSA, Okla. – official event release — Bill Miller file photo —
The list for the 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire is at 144 entries with 10 still seeking a driver for hire.
Of the 132 confirmed drivers that make up the early list, 31 enter as Chili Bowl rookies with another 13 drivers having made the cut on Saturday night.
Tracy Hines, currently leads the A-Feature count at 13. Piloting the Bob Parker/Toyota No. 24, Hines will also oversee three other drivers during the Chili Bowl with Nick Drake, Chase Briscoe, and Mark Lowrey under the stewardship of the 2005 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals champion.
Keeping in line with Indiana drivers, second in A-Feature count on a still early list of contenders is Shane Cottle. A best finish of runner-up in his first attempt in 2000, “The Throttle” is scheduled to pilot the Kenneth Love No. 71x.
A trio with five feature starts, Oklahoma’s Daryn Pittman will again wheel the family owned No. 21. Notching A-Feature start No. 5 in 2015, Arizona’s Casey Shuman looks to make the show again; this time in the No. 32B for Brian Dunlap. Also with five is Pennsylvania’s Steve Buckwalter who last made the call in 2011.
Skipping four and three, drivers with a pair of A-Feature appearances include Oklahoma’s Brady Bacon who is slated to jump behind the wheel of the Frank Manafort/Brad Noffsinger No. 76m. Chris “Critter” Malone will be in the Seven, LLC No. 7CH. with Don Droud, Jr. looking to put the Skip Smith Motorsports No. 44 in the show on Saturday night.
Drivers entered who are in search of that second Saturday A-Feature include Kevin Ramey, Tony Roney, Andrew Felker, Andrew Deal, and Shane Hollingsworth.
One of the most inspirational stories in the Rookie class is Indiana’s Eric Saunders.
Paralyzed from the chest down following a Motocross accident just prior to turning 18, that hasn’t stopped the now 23-year-old driver from pursuing his goals. It was with the help of Tony Stewart in 2012 that Saunders began racing Micro Sprints at Plymouth Speedway in Plymouth, Indiana. Utilizing hand controls, Saunders finally found victory in 2014. Along with the Chili Bowl, Eric will get time on the Tulsa Expo Raceway at the 31st Speedway Motors Tulsa Shootout, happening Dec. 30, 2015-Jan. 2, 2016.
To keep up with the full list of entries, log onto www.chilibowl.com.
CREDIT: Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals