TULSA, Oklahoma – With the thunderous applause of packed grandstands, Oklahoma’s Christopher Bell added his name to the history books yet again with his second Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire victory in as many years.

Handing Keith Kunz his seventh win as a car owner, and fourth consecutive since 2015, the weekend included three preliminary night wins and a Saturday night podium sweep.

“Once in a lifetime. This week was once in a lifetime,” commented Kunz on his team’s achievement.

Despite the win, Bell felt a sense of disappointment after he regained the lead in the closing laps when Kyle Larson’s night ended with mechanical failure under the bonnet of No. 01.

“It’s special to win the Chili Bowl. With over 300 something cars, it’s always going to be special, but I’m disappointed. I feel like Kyle got robbed, I got robbed, and the fans got robbed. I wanted to race it out, and I know the fans wanted us to race it out too so I’m disappointed we didn’t get to do that, but I’d rather be lucky than good any day,” commented Bell.

Chasing Kyle Larson through the first 10 laps as the freshly tilled clay of the Tulsa Expo Raceway began to evolve, a restart on Lap 11 saw Bell charge the cushion for the lead off the fourth turn.

Caution on Lap 17, Larson held off the charge of Christopher Bell with the two pulling away from the field. Running down the back of the field, it was a high-speed chess match with Larson making the right move on Lap 26 to reclaim the top spot. Steadily pulling away as Bell found himself mired behind slower cars, the race came under caution on Lap 34.

Back to green with Bell unable to keep pace, Kyle was well ahead before his pace began to slow a few laps later. With Bell closing, the reason for the drop in speed made itself known as the engine gave out a massive cloud of smoke on Lap 41. Ducking into the infield, the iRacing No. 01 came to a rest well away from the racing surface.

With a straightaway advantage and slower cars around, Bell was pursed by Rico Abreu but the traffic was not enough to slow the No. 71w enough for Rico to challenge as the checkered flag fell with Bell winning by 3.162 seconds, and lapping past 10th place.

Rico Abreu in second, the third member of the Kunz camp on the podium was Spencer Bayston. Racing through the field from 17th, Tanner Thorson’s day began in the first C-Feature before ending with a fourth-place run in the A-Feature. Earning the final transfer from the first B-Feature, California’s Ryan Bernal stormed through the field to fifth after starting 23rd.

Despite an issue with the engine, Brad Sweet held on to finish sixth with Justin Grant in tow. Chase Johnson’s first appearance in the Saturday finale ended in eighth with Kevin Thomas, Jr. ninth. Rolling from 24th, Chad Boat made up the top-ten.

Saturday’s round of Alphabet Soup began with double N-Features. The biggest mover through the soup was Shane Stewart who advanced from L-Feature to I-Feature competition. 11 more drivers saw action in at least three features with another 91 in at least two features.

The weeklong Fastenal Flip Count reached a total of 70 among 60 drivers. All were able to walk away with Simpson also in on the mix at flips 25 and 50. For the 25th flip, a HANS Device was awarded to Brady Bacon with the 50th flip getting Seatbelts, which went to Shane Pace.

The 33rd Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire will take place January 14-19, 2019. Information on the event will be released in the next few weeks.


Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire
Tulsa Expo Raceway – Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, January 13, 2018
General Tire Championship Night

Event Count: 345


A Feature (55 Laps): 1. 71W-Christopher Bell, [2]; 2. 97-Rico Abreu, [3]; 3. 97K-Spencer Bayston, [6]; 4. 63-Tanner Thorson, [17]; 5. 87-Ryan Bernal, [23]; 6. 63D-Brad Sweet, [5]; 7. 39BC-Justin Grant, [4]; 8. 71R-Chase Johnson, [9]; 9. 27K-Kevin Thomas Jr, [11]; 10. 84X-Chad Boat, [24]; 11. 71-Ryan Robinson, [19]; 12. 7BC-Tyler Courtney, [10]; 13. 35TE-Chris Windom, [20]; 14. 67-Logan Seavey, [21]; 15. 17W-Shane Golobic, [7]; 16. 4-Tom Harris, [18]; 17. 49ER-Caleb Armstrong, [14]; 18. 77P-Billy Pauch Jr, [22]; 19. (DNF) 01-Kyle Larson, [1]; 20. (DNF) 37-Andrew Felker, [12]; 21. (DNF) 91T-Tyler Thomas, [8]; 22. (DNF) 24-Tracy Hines, [15]; 23. (DNF) 1-Sammy Swindell, [13]; 24. (DNF) 57BC-Giovanni Scelzi, [16]

Hard Charger: Ryan Bernal +18

#BCForever Pole Shuffle Powered by Pizza Express:

Race 1: Kevin Thomas, Jr. vs. Andrew Felker
Race 2: Tyler Courtney vs. Kevin Thomas, Jr.
Race 3: Chase Johnson vs. Tyler Courtney
Race 4: Tyler Thomas vs. Chase Johsno
Race 5: Shane Golobic vs. Tyler Thomas
Race 6: Spencer Bayston vs. Shane Golobic
Race 7: Brad Sweet vs. Spencer Bayston
Race 8: Justin Grant vs. Brad Sweet
Race 9: Rico Abreu vs. Justin Grant
Race 10: Kyle Larson vs. Rico Abreu
Race 11: Christopher Bell vs. Kyle Larson
Winner: Kyle Larson

story by Bryan Hulbert