Kyle Larson finally won the Chili Bowl and he did it in fitting style — by beating Christopher Bell.
In his 13th attempt and after being beaten on the last lap a year ago by Bell, Larson stalked his soon-to-be NASCAR rival for the first 38 laps before sliding into the lead coming off Turn 2. Then he held off the three-time Chili champion in a couple late restarts to earn his first Golden Driller trophy.
“Sorry NASCAR and Daytona but this is the biggest effing win I’ve ever had,” said the 27-year-old Californian who started third. “This is badass and I’ve spent almost half my life trying to win this thing. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Going for his fourth consecutive victory in the midget race that kicks off the racing season, Bell fell a couple car lengths short.
“Second at the Chili Bowl sucks but I want to thank my owner Chad Boat because this was a blast,” said the Oklahoma native who won three in a row for Keith Kunz operation but switched to Tucker-Boat Racing this year. Starting on the outside of Row 1 in the 24-car field, Bell powered past polesitter Tanner Thorson and into the lead in the first turn and immediately pulled away to a two-second advantage in his Spike/Toyota. It looked like game, set and match until they caught traffic and then a caution on Lap 35 changed everything. It closed up the field and Larson was able to hang with Bell on the restart before striking a few laps later.
“I don’t know if I had a tire going down or Kyle was better for those 10 laps,” said Bell, who moved into NASCAR’s top tier in 2020 after excelling in Xfinity and trucks. “The track was treacherous but he didn’t make any mistakes this year.”
Larson, who also left Kunz’s dominant operation to start his own team, bounced off the cushion (and the wall once) but managed to keep his Lucas Oil King/Toyota out in front. “I got sloppy a couple times at the end but Paul Silva gave me a great car.”
Sixteen-year-old Cannon McIntosh charged from eighth to finish third in only his second appearance in Tulsa.
“It was really cool to run with Chris and Rico (Abreu) and my car got better and better,” said McIntosh, who drives one of Kunz’s Bullet/Toyotas. “I learned a lot and it was a lot of fun.”
Former USAC midget champ Logan Seavey put in the charge of the night as he stormed from 11th to fourth for Kevin Swindell’s team.
IndyCar drivers Conor Daly, Santino Ferrucci and James Davison ran earlier in the day with Daly taking ninth in the H Main, Ferrucci finishing seventh in the K Main and Davison ninth in the M main.