TULSA, Okla. — Kyle Larson had hoped for an additional epic battle night time with Christopher Bell, about seven weeks after they thrilled followers at “Turkey Night time” in California, the place Bell beat Larson in a significant midget-car race.
The stage was set Saturday night time as they traded the lead on the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, however a blown engine in Larson’s automotive with 13 laps remaining ended that drama, and Bell sped to his second consecutive Chili Bowl crown on the Tulsa Expo Heart.
Larson and Bell had seemed to be the category of the sphere throughout the week of qualifiers, and so they had a spirited match race during which Larson shoved Bell to seize the pole for the 55-lap occasion on the quarter-mile clay oval.
Larson was in search of that elusive Chili Bowl title, an annual occasion sometimes with greater than 300 entries. Larson was fifth in 2016 and third in 2012.
“That is probably the most disappointing factor about this 12 months’s Chili Bowl is I needed to race it out,” Bell mentioned. “I felt prefer it was going to be a very good present for the followers and it was going to be numerous enjoyable for us. … Profitable the Chili Bowl with 300-something automobiles is at all times going to be particular.
“However, man, I am disenchanted. That is the precise phrase. I really feel like Kyle received robbed, I received robbed and the followers received robbed.”
Larson, clearly, was extra disenchanted, particularly after dropping the result in Bell on a restart early within the race after which taking it again when Bell received caught behind a lapped automotive. Larson appeared destined to earn that first Chili Bowl win when his engine went up in smoke.
“That sucks,” mentioned Larson, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver who received 4 NASCAR Cup races in 2017 and whose 2017 Cup title hopes had been thwarted by a blown engine within the NASCAR playoffs in October. “I had a blown engine right here earlier than getting near the lead.
“However main … I assume I can cope with it since I’ve handled it now, it looks as if, the previous couple of months. Only a bummer.”
Rico Abreu, the 2015-16 Chili Bowl winner, was second and 2017 U.S. Auto Membership Midget nationwide champion Spencer Bayston completed third. The entire high three drivers (and Larson) drove automobiles ready by automotive proprietor Keith Kunz.
“Anybody can win this race — it is nearly having that excellent night time and minimizing their errors, which Kyle and Christopher are actually good at,” Abreu mentioned. “That is what makes them the category of the sphere.”
Bell, who received the 2017 NASCAR Tenting World Truck Collection title, will compete in a full-time Xfinity Collection experience for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018. He may face Larson in inventory automobiles when Larson runs within the Xfinity Collection. Bell is trying ahead to extra battles with Larson within the midget automobiles, however he would not know when their schedules will put them in the identical occasion.
“At Turkey Night time, we raced our butts off and I received, and right here tonight, he had a motor blow up? His flip is coming,” Bell mentioned.
Bell and Larson had been the one two present NASCAR drivers in the primary occasion. Kasey Kahne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier, J.J. Yeley and Chase Briscoe did not advance to the function occasion. Stenhouse flipped in his warmth race however was OK.
“Any individual hung a proper and I used to be on the surface,” Stenhouse mentioned. “It has been some time since I flipped one. I forgot the way it feels. It is undoubtedly not the simplest feeling you will have.”