TULSA, Okla. – Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals officials have released the first look at the entry list for the 2017 running of the event, carrying 183 early entries for the 31st running, Jan. 10-14.
Comprised of some of racing’s greatest talent, the count includes three past champions to go along with 25 feature starters and 38 Chili Bowl rookies that will take to the Tulsa Expo Raceway inside River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Past champions entered include Damion Gardner, Tracy Hines and John Heydenreich.
Hines, who last won the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in 2005, will again pilot his familiar Bob Parker/Spike with a Toyota No. 24. Hines is second overall to Sammy Swindell with 14 feature starts, a pair of podiums, three top-fives, and eight top-ten runs to go along with his win.
Making the cut on eight occasions, Gardner last saw victory lane in 2008 while driving for the late Jason Leffler. Add two podiums, just as many top-fives, and three top-10s and Gardner is 25th overall in Chili Bowl feature performances.
Taking a Golden Driller home in 1990, Heydenreich is the only driver in the field thus far who can say he raced the very first Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. In all, Heydenreich has made three features with his podium, top-five and top-10 count all at a pair.
While Hines has the best average record of drivers currently entered, none have more feature starts so far than Dave Darland. Darland has made the cut 15 times since 1998. Missing the show last year, Darland will again pilot the Gray Auto/Toyota No. 11AG. The record belongs to Sammy Swindell with 23 features to his credit.
Looking over the list of Chili Bowl Rookies, one name that stands out is Donny Schatz. The North Dakota shoe has landed the World Of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car title eight times, and will grace the clay of the Tulsa Expo Raceway in the Clauson-Marshall Racing midget.