Last year Kyle Larson suffered a heart-breaking loss on the final lap in the Chili Bowl. The talented young racer found redemption tonight by winning the 34th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals in his 13th attempt.
Larson was in another tenacious battle with young phenom Christopher Bell, who was aiming to capture a record fourth consecutive Chili Bowl championship. Bell started the A Main race from pole position but got into a battle with Larson after a caution on Lap 34. The two exchanged the lead several times, but it was Kyle who took the checkered flag 0.801 seconds ahead of Bell.
After coming close so many times, Larson was understandably over the moon with his victory. “I’m sorry NASCAR, I’m sorry Daytona, but this is the biggest effing race I’ve ever won,” he exclaimed. “I hope to win Daytona in a few weeks, but this is badass!”
The 34th Annual Chili Bowl had an overall field of 343 drivers from 40 states and six countries. Among them were three drivers from the NTT IndyCar Series. Conor Daly, Santino Ferrucci, and James Davison all hit the dirt this week in what is known as the Super Bowl of midget racing.
The three drivers were all there with David Byrd, whose father Jonathan had many ties to the Indianapolis 500. David helped get Bryan Clauson to the Indy 500 twice, and will again support Davison in this year’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing, along with a shot at NASCAR’s Daytona 500 next month. Daly took part in the event for the second time and had a solid outing. He was eliminated in the H Main race, while Ferrucci (K Main) and Davison (M Main) were also unable to continue.
Larson will be preparing for the Daytona 500 in the coming days, but his 2020 season is already off to an incredible start. “We worked on this thing all week long. There in the feature, I finally felt good. I could get down the straight-away, it had grip and I could lean into the cushion and be confident. I can’t believe it. It took me 13 years. That’s almost half my age, I’ve been coming down here. 13 years to win this race, it feels better than I could have imagined.”
Other notable drivers in the A Main race were Rico Abreu in fifth place, Tyler Courtney in 11th, Thomas Meseraull in 12th, Sammy Swindell in 13th, Chris Windom in 14th, CJ Leary in 17th, and Justin Allgaier finished 21st. Bell led the first 38 laps while Larson led the final 17. Blake Hahn earned the Hard Charger Award and Buddy Kofoid won the Rookie of the Year Award.
In addition to Larson and Bell, there were several other drivers on hand from the NASCAR world. Allgaier, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Alex Bowman, JJ Yeley, Dillon Welch, and Indiana’s Ryan Newman and Chase Briscoe all joined in on the week-long fun. The 35th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals will take place January 11-16, 2021.
Next up for Daly and Ferrucci is the open test at Circuit of The Americas on February 11-12 while Davison will head to Daytona. The IndyCar season begins on March 13 with practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.