(Adam Mollenkopf Photo) Story presented by POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League
TULSA, OKLA. (January 15, 2019) – In a race of attrition, Kyle Larson survived a near 30-minute feature on Tuesday night to pick up his sixth career Chili Bowl preliminary win, moving him behind Sammy Swindell (8 wins) and Cory Kruseman (7 wins) in the all-time category. Starting from the outside pole, Larson led wire-to-wire aboard the Lucas Oil, iRacing No. 01 King/Toyota to bring his new team, Kyle Larson Racing, to Tulsa victory lane in their first attempt.
Earning the pole position of the 30-lapper was Broken Arrow, Okla. native Jonathan Beason in a Hard 8 Racing No. 8J entry. A former Tuesday night winner himself, Beason snagged P1 by virtue of a 3rd-to-1st heat race win and a 4th-to-2nd qualifier run.
However, it was the outside polesitter who jolted to the race lead right out of the gate. Getting a strong start and rocketing to the cushion, Larson put his No. 01 up top and in front as he commanded the opening circuit. In the early stages, it was all Larson at the front while Beason held second-place comfortable as a near eight-car battle for the third spot raged on.
Things got interesting on lap ten when contact between Alex Bright and Michael Faccinto sent both racers reeling through the pack. Moments later, Zeb Wise had charged into fifth-from-tenth aboard his Keith Kunz Motorsports, IWX Motor Freight No. 71 Bullet/Toyota, but as he came off turn four it was Larry Wight who decided to come up, sending Wise’s machine up the wall and forcing a flat left rear to the No. 71 to bring out the caution at halfway.
Under an ensuing caution, chaos struck at the front of the field as third-place running Mike Hess, the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series Race Director, suffered a mechanical issue and was forced to relinquish his podium run. The next time around, Beason recorded his best restart trailing Larson, but was unable to make a move until he caught him back with lap traffic on lap 22.
The duo approached the back markers with hesitation as lappers covered the surface, running high, running low, and throwing sliders at each other. Somehow, Larson made every single call right, sneaking around the outside of two of them then slicing low and clearing more with a slider. A move that quickly gapped himself and Beason by almost five laps cars.
The final caution of the race flew on lap 24 when Jake Bubak, who had stormed from 17th-to-4th, slapped it off the turn two cushion and went airborne, collecting frontrunner Nick Drake in the process.
On the last restart, a poor jump from Beason (potentially due to fuel) allowed Larry Wight to roll the bottom right by the No. 8J and take the second spot down the backstretch. However, Beason’s entry started picking it up and he came firing back into turn three with a slider to reclaim the spot.
From there, it was smooth sailing for Elk Grove, Calif. native Kyle Larson as he led flag-to-flag in his KLR No. 01 for the sixth preliminary win of his Chili Bowl career. Jonathan Beason locked-in to Saturday’s main event with Larson, recovering after a rough restart and holding onto the second spot. Michael Faccinto, Dillon Welch and Larry Wight rounded out the top five.
A-Main (30 Laps): 1. 01-Kyle Larson; 2. 8J-Jonathan Beason; 3. 08-Michael Faccinto; 4. 81X-Dillon Welch; 5. 99-Larry Wight; 6. 11S-TJ Smith; 7. 07W-Mitchel Moles; 8. 9JR-Derek Hagar; 9. 97W-Kaidon Brown; 10. 55X-Alex Bowman; 11. 5R-Roger Crockett; 12. 47M-Frankie Guerrini; 13. 73B-Tyler Edwards; 14. 47-Alex Bright; 15. 17C-Jeremy Webb; 16. 19A-Hunter Schuerenberg; 17. 2W-Wyatt Burks; 18. 84M-Alex DeCamp; 19. 27B-Jake Bubak; 20. 55D-Nick Drake; 21. 51H-Mike Hess; 22. 29-Tyler Thompson; 23. 71-Zeb Wise; 24. 71G-Damion Gardner