Driver Profile

Larson Wins Chili Bowl Opener!

Larson Wins Chili Bowl Opener!

Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (January 10, 2012) – Coming off a remarkable breakthrough season in 2011, Kyle Larson added yet another notch to the win column by topping Tuesday night’s 25-lap Warren CAT Qualifying feature event to kick off the 26th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the QuikTrip Center’s Tulsa Expo Raceway.

The 19-year-old from Elk Grove, CA, raced by Kevin Ramey for the lead on the high side on the fifth round and worked traffic flawlessly over the final ten circuits to post the victory in front of NASCAR Nationwide champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., and New Zealand’s Michael Pickens, with each of the podium finishers locked into Saturday’s 50-lap Chili Bowl championship feature event.

While youth prevailed in the Qualifying feature event, veteran shoe Sammy Swindell snared his third Vacuworx International Race of Champions victory in four years by leading all 20 circuits of the special feature event. While the five-time Chili Bowl champion was out front all the way, he had to fend off a late bid from his son Kevin Swindell, two-time and reigning Chili Bowl champion, to secure the win.

While Larson, who ranked as the nation’s winningest open wheel driver in 2011 with triumphs across a variety of series, gridded the feature field outside the second row, it was Ramey and Chili Bowl rookie contender Matt Ward leading the Warren CAT feature field to the green flag from the front row.

Ramey gunned into the lead at the drop of the green flag, with Larson sweeping past Ward on the high side to take second on the third lap, moments before George White spun in turn three to bring out the first of three cautions in the initial six circuits.

With Fort Worth, Texas, shoe Ramey working the low side, Larson stuck to the high side and charged into the lead entering turn one on the fifth lap. Upon the completion of the fifth round, Thomas Meseraull caught the berm exiting turn four and went for a wild ride, with the race’s final caution flying a lap later when Ronnie Burke, Jr., spun to a stop in turn four.

With Larson out front in the Keith Kunz Motorsports Speedway Toyota-powered No. 67 Bullet, Ramey tried to mount a charge to regain the lead as action resumed.

“I could see him on the bottom sometimes in one and two, so I dropped back down there for a little bit until I felt like it got to slow,” Larson explained. “I wasn’t sure where Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.) was, and I figured Ricky’s the type that would be up top so I had to get back up there as quick as I could.”

Indeed, Stenhouse, Jr., was into second by the eighth round, but Larson kept his chasers in the distance. Even when lapped traffic came into play after 15 laps, Larson’s pace was undeterred.

“Lapped traffic was pretty tough,” Larson commented. “They were all running the top so we had to throw some sliders at them and luckily they didn’t race us back too hard.”

Larson raced on to the checkered flag without challenge, crossing the stripe with a 1.573-second advantage over Stenhouse, Jr., in the CTR-BCI Esslinger-powered No. 39i Spike.

“I kinda wanted a caution to get to his back bumper,” Stenhouse, Jr., commented afterward. “But then I knew Michael (Pickens) would be in third and it would be a battle, so I was kinda glad we just ran it on out.”

After starting seventh, Pickens battled past Brady Bacon for fourth on the 12th round and then took third from Ramey the next time around. Pickens kept the Loyet Motorsports Esslinger-powered Vacuworx International No. 05p Spike in the show position the rest of the way to lock into his fourth Chili Bowl finale in as many tries.

“The main thing is to be locked in,” the accomplished Kiwi shoe explained. “Now we can sit back and relax and don’t have to tear up any equipment.”

Bacon slipped around Ramey on the final circuit to snare fourth in the Wilke-Pak Toyota-powered No. 11 Spike, with Ramey rounding out the top five in the Printplace Motorsports Fontana-powered No. 7m Spike.

Casey Shuman advanced a half-dozen positions to claim sixth, while Ward crossed the stripe seventh after being the only rookie to make Tuesday night’s feature cut.

Andrew Felker was eighth, with 17th-starter Jerry Coons, Jr., and Darren Hagen completing the top ten.

After being unable to start his heat race, Jonathan Beason rallied back with triumphs in both “C” and “B” Main action before climbing to 12th in the feature event. Jimmy Light worked the alphabet as well, advancing from “C” Main competition to claim 17th in the “A” Main.

Meseraull, Johnathon Henry, Burke, Jr., Ryan Pace, R.J. Johnson, Ward, Jody Rosenboom and Justin Grant topped heat race action for Tuesday night’s 66-car field. Cameron Hagin and Beason won the “C” Mains, with Coons, Jr., and again Beason atop the “B” Mains.

With a stellar 14-car field assembled for VIROC IV, the Fourth Annual Vacuworx International Race of Champions, Sammy Swindell was the last one to draw for position. And, the 13 drivers before him left him the pole position.

That was all Swindell needed, as he jumped ahead of fellow front row starter Jason Leffler at the outset and led all the way to take the $2,500 triumph over the field of past Chili Bowl champions and standouts.

Working forward from fifth though, Kevin Swindell made it interesting after taking second from Damion Gardner on the 15th lap. Kevin challenged his father for the point before a caution flew with five laps to go for a tangle involving Brady Bacon and Leffler.

Sammy kept the younger Swindell at bay on the restart until the final lap, when Kevin pulled alongside on the backstretch. Sammy worked the low side of three and four though to retain command and took the checkered flag with a car-length advantage over Kevin.

Tracy Hines claimed the show position in VIROC IV action behind Swindell and Swindell, with Gardner and Joey Saldana rounding out the top five.

Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifier Results from the 26th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals:

Heat Races (8 Laps each, Top 40 in passing points to A Qualifiers; Balance to twin C Mains)

Heat 1: 1. #2T Thomas Meseraull, San Jose, CA; 2. #2H Casey Shuman, Rattlesnake Bend, AZ; 3. #7X Layne Himebaugh, Collinsville, OK; 4. #9U Doug McCune, Colleyville, TX; 5. #10W George White, Fort Worth, TX; 6. #55 Kyle Smith, Moorpark, CA; 7. #23 Tim Lynch, Columbus, IN; 8. #16 Jimmy Light, Erie, PA; 9. #73S Alex Sewell, Broken Arrow, OK

Heat 2: 1. #88H Johnathon Henry; 2. #3 Darren Hagen, Riverside, CA; 3. #27S Andy Shouse, Oklahoma City, OK; 4. #39I Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Olive Branch, MS; 5. #55F Taylor Ferns, Shelby Township, MI; 6. #67X Britton Bock, Angwin, CA; 7. #23F Jesse Sobbing, Glenwood, IA; 8. #9B Harris Brooks, Houston, TX; 9. #3H Bubba Hunt, Tulsa, OK

Heat 3: 1. #4B Ronnie Burke, Jr., League City, TX; 2. #9D Sean Dodenhoff, Bakersfield, CA; 3. #88 Brenden Bright, Collegeville, PA; 4. #49JR Bobby Michnowicz, Lomita, CA; 5. #12 Chris Gurley, Hebron, IN; 6. #93R Jake Rosario, Guthrie, OK; 7. #27 Kody Swanson, Kingsburg, CA; 8. #33x Jason Lair, Del City, OK

Heat 4: 1. #05R Ryan Pace, Brownsburg, IN; 2. #05P Michael Pickens, Auckland, NZ; 3. #11A Andrew Felker, Carl Junction, MO; 4. #11 Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK; 5. #10 Will Pierce, Lees Summit, MO; 6. #17X Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN; 7. #73F Greg Edenholm, Malibu, CA; 8. #11XC Steve Newman, Steamboat Springs, CO

Heat 5: 1. #51J R.J. Johnson, Phoenix, AZ; 2. #7M Kevin Ramey, Fort Worth, TX; 3. #67 Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA; 4. #6 Aaron Pierce, Daleville, IL; 5. #8B Bob Ream Jr., Glendale, AZ; 6. #37X Cameron Hagin, Broken Arrow, OK; 7. #87F Brian McClelland, Tulsa, Ok; DNS – Stephen Arnold, Seymour, IN

Heat 6: 1. #8L Matt Ward, Glenpool, OK; 2. #3NZ Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, AZ; 3. #15N T.J. Smith, Fresno, CA; 4. #23C Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN; 5. #31 David Budres, Beloit, WI; 6. #20X Jimmy Harris, Broken Arrow, OK; 7. #21X Nick Speidel, Muncie, IN; DNS – Jonathan Beason, Broken Arrow, OK

Heat 7: 1. #6R Jody Rosenboom, Rock Rapids, IA; 2. #7B Joe Boyles, Greenwood, MO; 3. #18A Floyd Alvis, San Carlos, CA; 4. #6M Justin Mallo, Cheyenne, WY; 5. #13 Ryan York, Racine, MN; 6. #40 Andy Huston, Roseville, IL; 7. #11XS Tony Norem, Dassel, MN; 8. W94 Waylon Weaver, Claremore, OK

Heat 8: 1. #35 Justin Grant, Ione, CA; 2. #45X C.J. Johnson, Quinter, KS; 3. #94 Darren Kingston, Vandalia, IL; 4. #11C Chett Gehrke, Broken Arrow, OK; 5. #96 Cody Brewer, Choctaw, OK; 6. #77D Dalten Gabbard, Peoria, AZ; 7. #71X Shelton Haudenschild, Wooster, OH; 8. #17M Andee Beierle, Bismarck, ND

C Mains (10 Laps – Top 4 in each transfer to back of corresponding B Main)

C Main 1: 1. #37X Cameron Hagin, Broken Arrow, OK; 2. #23F Jesse Sobbing, Glenwood, IA; 3. #10 Will Pierce, Lees Summit, MO; 4. #73S Alex Sewell, Broken Arrow, OK; 5. #20X Jimmy Harris, Broken Arrow, OK; 6. #73F Greg Edenholm, Malibu, CA; 7. #23 Tim Lynch, Columbus, IN; 8. #33A Stephen Arnold, Seymour, IN; 9. #77D Dalten Gabbard, Peoria, AZ; 10. #W94 Waylon Weaver, Claremore, OK: 11. #27 Kody Swanson, Kingsburg, CA; DNS - #87F Brian McClelland, Tulsa, OK; #11XC Steve Newman, Steamboat Springs, CO

C Main 2: 1. #36 Jonathan Beason, Broken Arrow, OK; 2. #33X Jason Lair, Del City, OK; 3. #16 Jimmy Light, Erie, PA; 4. #40 Andy Huston, Roseville, IL; 5. #9B Harris Brooks, Houston, TX; 6. #71X Sheldon Haudenschild, Wooster, OH; 7. #17M Andee Beierle, Bismarck, ND; 8. #67X Britton Bock, Angwin, CA; 9. #93R Jake Rosario, Guthrie, OK; 10. #55 Kyle Smith, Moorpark, CA; 11. #21X Nick Speidel, Muncie, IN; 12. #11XS Tony Norem, Dassel, MN; DNS - #3H Bubba Hunt, Tulsa, OK

A Qualifiers (10 Laps – Top 16 in combined passing points to A Main; Balance to twin B Mains)

A Qualifier 1: 1. #3 Darren Hagen, Riverside, CA; 2. #8L Matt Ward, Glenpool, OK; 3. #27S Andy Shouse, Oklahoma City, OK; 4. #05R Ryan Pace, Brownsburg, IN; 5. #6M Justin Mallo, Cheyenne, WY; 6. #45X C.J. Johnson, Quinter, KS; 7. #94 Darren Kingston, Vandalia, IL; 8. #55F Taylor Ferns, Shelby Township, MI; 9. #96 Cody Brewer, Choctaw, OK; 10. 37X Layne Himebaugh, Collinsville, OK

A Qualifier 2: 1. #11 Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK; 2. #39i Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Olive Branch, MS; 3. #11A Andrew Felker, Carl Junction, MO; 4. #51J R.J. Johnson, Phoenix, AZ; 5. #6R Jody Rosenboom, Rock Rapids, IA; 6. #9U Doug McCune, Colleyville, TX; 7. #8B Bob Ream Jr., Glendale, AZ; 8. #9D Sean Dodenhoff, Bakersfield, CA; 9. #12 Chris Gurley, Hebron, IN; 10. #18A Floyd Alvis, San Carlos, CA

A Qualifier 3: 1. #7M Kevin Ramey, Fort Worth, TX; 2. #2H Casey Shuman, Rattlesnake Bend, AZ; 3. #2T Thomas Meseraull, San Jose, CA; 4. #35 Justin Grant, Ione, CA; 5. #31 David Budres, Beloit, WI; 6. #49JR Bobby Michnowicz, Lomita, CA; 7. #88 Brenden Bright, Collegeville, PA; 8. #7B Joe Boyles, Greenwood, MO; 9. #13 Ryan York, Racine, MN; 10. #6 Aaron Pierce, Daleville, IN

A Qualifier 4: 1. #05P Michael Pickens, Auckland, NZ; 2. #67 Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA; 3. #23C Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN; 4. #11C Chett Gehrke, Broken Arrow, OK; 5. #88H Johnathon Henry, Stockton, CA; 6. #3NZ Jerry Coons, Jr., Tucson, AZ; 7. Ronnie Burke, Jr., League City, TX; 8. #17X Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN; 9. #10W George White, Fort Worth, TX; 10. #15N T.J. Smith, Fresno, CA

B Mains (15 Laps – Top 4 in each transfer to A Main)

B Main 1: 1. #3NZ Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, AZ; 2. #23C Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN; 3. #88H Johnathon Henry, Stockton, CA; 4. #10W George White, Fort Worth, TX; 5. #55F Taylor Ferns, Shelby Township, MI; 6. #73S Alex Sewell, Broken Arrow, OK; 7. #7X Layne Himebaugh, Collinsville, OK; 8. #17X Davey Heskin, St. Michael, MN; 9. #37X Cameron Hagin, Broken Arrow, OK; 10. #10 Will Pierce, Lees Summit, MO; 11. #94 Darren Kingston, Vandalia, IL; 12. #49JR Bobby Michnowicz, Lomita, CA; 13. #23F Jesse Sobbing, Glenwood, IA; 14. #15N T.J. Smith, Fresno, CA; DNS - #7B Joe Boyles, Greenwood, MO; #13 Ryan York, Racine, MN

B Main 2: 1. #36 Jonathan Beason, Broken Arrow, OK; 2. #16 Jimmy Light, Erie, PA; 3. #31 David Budres, Beloit, WI; 4. #4B Ronnie Burke, Jr., League City, TX; 5. #88 Brenden Bright, Collegeville, PA; 6. #6 Aaron Pierce, Daleville, IN; 7. #9U Doug McCune, Colleyville, TX; 8. #33X Jason Lair, Del City, OK; 9. #40 Andy Huston, Roseville, IL; 10. #18 Floyd Alvis, San Carlos, CA; 11. #8B Bob Ream Jr., Glendale, AZ; 12. #96 Cody Brewer, Choctaw, OK; 13. #6M Justin Mallo, Cheyenne, WY; 14. #12 Chris Gurley, Hebron, IN; 15. #9D Sean Dodenhoff, Bakersfield, CA; 16. #45X C.J. Johnson, Quinter, KS

A Main (25 laps – Top 3 advance to Saturday Night's Main Event)

“A” Main: 1. #67 Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA; 2. #39i Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Olive Branch, MS; 3. #05p Michael Pickens, Auckland, NZ; 4. #11 Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK; 5. #7m Kevin Ramey, Ft. Worth, TX; 6. #2h Casey Shuman, Rattlesnake Bend, AZ; 7. #8L Matt Ward, Glenpool, OK; 8. #11a Andrew Felker, Carl Junction, MO; 9. #3nz Jerry Coons, Jr., Tucson, AZ; 10. #3 Darren Hagen, Riverside, CA; 11. #51J R.J. Johnson, Phoenix, AZ; 12. #36 Jonathan Beason, Broken Arrow, OK; 13. #27s Andy Shouse, Oklahoma City, OK; 14. #35 Justin Grant, Ione, CA; 15. #11c Chett Gehrke, Broken Arrow, OK; 16. #05r Ryan Pace, Brownsburg, IN; 17. #16 Jimmy Light, Erie, PA; 18. #6r Jody Rosenboom, Rock Rapids, IA; 19. #88h Johnathon Henry, Stockton, CA; 20. #10w George White, Ft. Worth, TX; 21. #31 David Budres, Beloit, WI; 22. #23c Tyler Courtney, Indianapolis, IN; 23. #4b Ronnie Burke, Jr., League City, TX; 24. #2T Thomas Meseraull, San Jose, CA.

Vacuworx International Race of Champions (20 laps)

VIROC IV: 1. #1 Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN; 2. #39 Kevin Swindell, Germantown, TN; 3. #24 Tracy Hines, Greenfield, IN; 4. #05G Damion Gardner, Concord, CA; 5. #67Z Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, IN; 6. #39C Bryan Clauson, Noblesville, IN; 7. #14 Tony Stewart, Columbus, IN; 8. #05 Brad Loyet, Sunset Hills MO; 9. #67 Kyle Larson, Elk Grove, CA; 10. Brad Mosen, Auckland, NZ; 11. #5 (11) Brady Bacon, Broken Arrow, OK; 12. #71 Jason Leffler, Long Beach, CA; 13. #21K Cory Kruseman, Ventura, CA; DNS - #39i Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Olive Branch, MS

1/10/2012 at Tulsa Expo Raceway - Tulsa, OK

Midgets

Midgets

A Feature

25 lapsPresented by Warren CAT
PosStartDriverHometownCar
1-Kyle LarsonElk Grove, CA38
2-Ricky Stenhouse JrOlive Branch, MS3
3-Michael PickensAuckland, NZ05P
4-Brady BaconBroken Arrow, OK67
5-Kevin RameyFt Worth, TX
6-Casey ShumanRattlesnake Bend, AZ2H
7-Matt WardGlenpool, OK
8-Andrew FelkerCarl Junction, MO
9-Jerry Coons JrTucson, AZ3NZ
10-Darren HagenRiverside, CA3

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