(Adam Mollenkopf Photo)
TULSA, OKLA. (January 14, 2020) – Cannon McIntosh picked the grandest stage of them all to introduce himself to the rest of the racing world in magical fashion on Monday night. At 17 years old and hailing from down the road in Bixby, Okla., the teenage star climbed aboard a Keith Kunz-Curb Agajanian Motorsports, Tulsa Sod & Mulch, Toyota/Bullet No. 71K for the first time, and boy did he deliver. Going perfect, the kid they call Cannon Mac swept the opening preliminary night at the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals by winning his heat race, qualifier and feature, all the while fending off the likes of Tyler Courtney, Aaron Reutzel, Michael Pickens, and many more.
“I’ve been looking for a win for a long time now. We’ve had lots of close calls but coming not Kieth’s stuff, I put a lot of pressure on myself. Those guys did good taking the pressure off of me a little bit and helping me stay calm,” states McIntosh. “Coming into this race, I really just wanted to be able to make the main event. There’s a lot of people that would love to do that. I never thought we’d be in Victory Lane tonight.”
Garnering the pole position after a heat win from third and a qualifier win from sixth, McIntosh controlled the opening circuit as he rolled the No. 71K around the inside berm at the jump. All-Star Circuit of Champions titleist, Aaron Reutzel, quickly made his presence felt as he shot to the top and drove his Tucker-Boat Motorsports, Pristine Auction No. 87 to the second spot around Tyler Courtney.
While McIntosh was a sitting duck on the low line, Reutzel ponied up and powered around the teenager to take over the race lead on lap five. Extending the gap at first, Reutzel looked poised for a runaway win until lap traffic hit and McIntosh reeled him right back in. The duo staged an intense duel for the lead until mayhem ensued on lap 10.
Focused on his battle with McIntosh, a flipping Dustin Golobic left Reutzel nowhere to go, collecting the No. 87 in a turn one pileup and sending him to the rear of the field. The middle stages of the race were handled excellently from McIntosh, who was setting sail on the cushion partly in thanks to a resilient Michael Pickens keeping Courtney pre-occupied in a fight for the final lock-in position.
A lap 22 red flag changed the game when Reutzel, who went tailback, launched an unpopular slider on sixth-place Trey Marcham and fed him a wheel, sending Marcham’s No. 32T for a massive flip into the catchfence. A five-minute fence repair gave crews a #OpenRed, allowing the powerhouses like Keith Kunz Motorsports, Clauson-Marshall Racing, RMS Racing, Tucker-Boat Motorsports, and several other frontrunners a chance at changing the car.
On the restart, Courtney went right for McIntosh’s throat, tossing a turn one slider for the lead at the 17-year old. However, Cannon kept his cool, calm and collected composure, realizing he needed to stab the brake and split the middle of Courtney above him and Pickens below him. Doing just that, McIntosh crossed him right back and fired down the backstretch with the race lead still under his command.
From there, it was all about handling the pressure and keeping it consistent on the cushion. Around the midpoint of the race, the No. 71K was visibly tight on the cushion, struggling on exit and pushing the nose. When it came time to put up or shut up though? McIntosh put up. Changing his entry to the corner and altering his line, the young gun ran a perfect final eight laps on the cushion with Courtney breathing down his neck.
A few celebratory donuts and a roaring cage stand in front of the home crowd later, McIntosh escaped from his undefeated ride as a Chili Bowl Midget Nationals preliminary winner. Finishing second and locking-in to Saturday’s 55-lap main event with McIntosh was Tyler Courtney aboard the Clauson-Marshall Racing, NOS Energy. Drink, Spike/SR-11 No. 7C.
Rounding out the top five on Monday night at the Chili Bowl was Aaron Reutzel in third, Michael Pickens in fourth and Zach Daum in fifth.
A-Main (30 Laps): 1. 71K-Cannon McIntosh; 2. 7C-Tyler Courtney; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel; 4. 1NZ-Michael Pickens; 5. 5D-Zach Daum; 6. 9X-Paul Nienhiser; 7. 5T-Kevin Thomas Jr; 8. 44X-Wesley Smith; 9. 5-Chase Briscoe; 10. 91K-Kevin Bayer; 11. 18-Tony Bruce Jr; 12. 7S-Kory Schudy; 13. 32-Gary Taylor; 14. 76E-Brady Bacon; 15. 56A-Riley Kreisel; 16. 11J-Justin Melton; 17. 98B-Joe Boyles; 18. 32T-Trey Marcham; 19. 27Z-Zane Hendricks; 20. 2-Ryan Hall; 21. 44-Ryan Leavitt; 22. 22S-Sean McClelland; 23. 57W-Dustin Golobic; 24. (DNS) 15X-Carson Garrett