Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (January 3, 2012) – Over the past quarter of a century, a select group of drivers and car owners have left the QuikTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway carrying a Golden Driller trophy each January after the Chili Bowl.
And, during next Tuesday’s opening night of the 26th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, that group along with some other event standouts will square off in the Fourth Annual $2,500-to-win, 20-lap Vacuworx International Race of Champions, dubbed VIROC IV.
The VIROC IV card will be part of Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying event, the first of four qualifying nights that sets the field for the Saturday, January 14, championship slate of feature events.
Fourteen drivers, including reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and two-time Chili Bowl champion Tony Stewart, have been tabbed for a spot in the Fourth Annual Vacuworx International Race of Champions (VIROC IV).
Gunning for a third triumph in four VIROC tries is Sammy Swindell. The five-time Chili Bowl champion topped the inaugural VIROC event in 2009 and then made it two-for-three with a win last January. Brad Loyet topped the second VIROC event in 2010.
The field for VIROC III is as follows:
1 Sammy Swindell (Germantown, TN) – Five Golden Drillers keeps Swindell entrenched in the VIROC field. Swindell has topped two of three previous VIROC events.
05 Brad Loyet (Sunset Hills, MO) – With the VIROC field not yet filled, the 2011 ASCS Warrior Region and POWRi Midget champion lands a spot by way of his 2010 VIROC triumph. Loyet landed in the 2010 event on the strength of 21 Midget feature wins in 2009, the first to reach such a mark since Billy Boat posted 21 Midget wins in 1995.
05g Damion Gardner (Concord, CA) – “The Demon”, who flipped across the finish line in preliminary action last year, snared the Golden Driller in 2008.
11 Brady Bacon (Broken Arrow, OK) – Hailing from nearby Broken Arrow, Bacon is tabbed as the Wilke-Pak rep in VIROC. Wilke-Pak took top Chili Bowl honors in 2003 with Tracy Hines at the wheel.
14 Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN) – The reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion returns to the Chili Bowl for the first time since 2008. “Smoke” snared Golden Drillers in both 2002 and 2007.
21k Cory Kruseman (Ventura, OK) – Spearheading a four-car team that includes freestyle motocross star Brian Deegan, Kruseman claimed Chili Bowl glory in 2000 and 2004.
24 Tracy Hines (Wilkinson, IN) – T. Hines drove a Wilke-Pak entry to Chili Bowl victory lane in 2003.
39 Kevin Swindell (Germantown, TN) – Kevin pulled off something that neither his dad nor 1,154 other Chili Bowl competitors have been able to do; pull off back-to-back wins. Swindell tries for a three-peat after wins in the past two editions of the Chili Bowl.
39c Bryan Clauson (Noblesville, IN) – Clauson lands a spot after earning National Midget Driver of the Year honors in 2011. Clauson also claimed USAC’s National Driver’s Championship, which landed him a ride in the 2012 Indianapolis 500.
39i Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Olive Branch, MS) – Further evidence that the sticky quarter-mile circle of black gumbo clay in West Memphis known as “The Ditch” breeds good racers (reference Sammy Swindell above), Stenhouse, Jr., lands in VIRCO after capturing the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide championship.
47 Brad Mosen (Auckland, NZ) – The KIWI gives VIROC some true “international” flavor. Mosen is the primary driver for Andy Bondio, who has claimed three Golden Drillers, one with Lealand McSpadden in 1991 and then Kruseman in 2000 and 2004.
67 Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA) – The Tebow times Ten of dirt track racing, the 19-year-old seemingly walked on water over portions of 2011 with wins in winged sprint cars (World of Outlaws and ASCS National) along with all three USAC National divisions (Silver Crown, Sprint Cars and Midgets). Driving for past Chili Bowl winning owner Keith Kunz, a Belleville Nationals triumph and a sweep of all three open wheel portions of Eldora’s Four Crown Nationals were among his notable triumphs.
67z Joey Saldana (Brownsburg, IN) – The World of Outlaws ace lands a spot driving a Midget co-owned by Gary Zarounian, who owned the Midget driven to Chili Bowl victory lane in 1995 by Donnie Beechler.
71 Jason Leffler (Long Beach, CA) – The NASCAR Nationwide shoe captured his Golden Driller as the car owner for 2008 Chili Bowl winner Damion Gardner.
Several drivers will pull double-duty on Tuesday night, competing in both the VIROC IV event as well as Warren CAT Qualifying event including Brady Bacon, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and Kyle Larson.
A limited number of tickets are available for the Tuesday night, January 10, Warren CAT Chili Bowl Qualifier and Vacuworx International Race of Champions for just $43 apiece. Tickets may be obtained by calling the ticket office at 918-838-3777.
Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Quick Facts:
What: 26th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals
Where: Tulsa Expo Raceway – ¼-mile clay oval inside the QuikTrip Center at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds
January 10-14, 2011
Tuesday – Warren CAT Qualifying Night plus Vacuworx Chili Bowl Race of Champions
Wednesday – River Spirit Casino Qualifying Night
Thursday – Suburban Chevrolet Qualifying Night
Friday – Vacuworx International Qualifying Night
Saturday – Lucas Oil Championship Feature Events
The five nights of racing action will be preceded by a practice session on Monday, January 9.
Past Winners: Kevin Swindell (2010 and 2011), Sammy Swindell (2009, 1998, 1996, 1992 and 1989), Damion Gardner (2008), Tony Stewart (2007 and 2002), Tim McCreadie (2006), Tracy Hines (2005), Cory Kruseman (2004 and 2000), Dan Boorse (2003 and 1999), Jay Drake (2001), Billy Boat (1997), Donnie Beechler (1995), Andy Hillenburg (1994), Dave Blaney (1993), Lealand McSpadden (1991), Jon Heydenreich (1990), Scott Hatton (1988), Rich Vogler (1987).
Trade Show: Always a popular attraction at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is the Trade Show, which is open to the public each day (Tuesday through Saturday) free of charge. All variety of racing products, apparel and more is available with well over 100 different vendors. The Trade Show covers approximately 20,000 square feet.
Tickets: A limited number of reserved seats for Tuesday night’s Warren CAT Qualifying Event and the Fourth Annual Vacuworx International Chili Bowl Race of Champions are available for $43 per person and may be obtained by calling 918-838-3777 or at the gate if still available. Pit passes for all five nights are available at the gate as well.
Chili Bowl on the Net: All official news pertaining to the 26th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, including official entry lists, race results and recaps, is available first at www.chilibowl.com. Also, all five nights of the Chili Bowl Nationals will be broadcast live (audio) on www.racinboys.com.
Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is available at http://www.chilibowl.com/ or by calling 918-838-3777.