It took 25 years for a back-to-back winner to happen at the Chili Bowl Nationals, and it was only fitting that it was a Swindell to do it on the event’s Silver Anniversary.
Kevin Swindell added a Silver Driller to his trophy case that will likely sit beside the Golden Driller he won in 2010, as he held off a late charge from his father and five-time Chili Bowl champ, Sammy, on the final lap to take the victory in the 50-lap main event.
Sammy Swindell notched his third straight podium finish at the Tulsa Expo Raceway, while hard-charging New Zealander Michael Pickens overcame an early incident to charge his way back into the Third spot. Native Oklahoman Jonathan Beason finished Fourth after starting Saturday night in the B Main, and Bryan Clauson, who led the race’s first 12 laps, finished Fifth.
Saturday’s victory marked the seventh time in 25 Chili Bowls that a Swindell has stood in Victory Lane but it was the first time in the history of the historic event that a winner had won in consecutive years.
But it wasn’t easy for the younger Swindell, as he not only had to hold off a late charge from his father but he was helped by a total of six caution flags in the race’s final 15 laps. However, those 15 laps produced some exciting racing. Kevin Swindell, driving the No. 39 Swindell Motorsports Spike Esslinger car, moved into second on lap 34 as he passed Clauson, who had been battling with Sammy Swindell through much of the first half of the race.
Then on a lap 40 restart, Kevin found the opening he needed on a restart and passed Sammy for the lead with an inside move in Turn 1. Two more cautions would slow the action on lap 44 when Brad Loyet stopped on the track due to a mechanical issue and then again on lap 49 when his Loyet Motorsports teammate, Damion Gardner, suffered a similar fate on the inside of Turn 2.
Kevin got a good jump on the the lap 44 restart as Sammy stayed in second with both Pickens and Beason trying to work their way around. The two Swindells stayed in first and second over the next few laps as Pickens kept working to make a pass on Sammy but could never figure out a way to complete it. After the caution for Gardner on Lap 49, the stage was set for a two-lap showdown involving the two Swindells, Pickens, Beason, and Clauson.
Kevin was able to get a good jump on the start but as the checkered flag was waving, he jumped the cushion in Turn 4 and that opened the door for Sammy to try for the win but Kevin gathered his mount and won by fractions of a second.
Clauson, meanwhile, was able to keep going after he looked like his night might be done on two separate occasions in the final half of the race. He broke loose on lap 36 trying to make a pass and looked to have spun but he gathered up the car. Then on lap 41, Clauson and Sammy made contact, which collected Nick Knepper and Cory Kruseman but Clauson again was able to continue.
Brad Kuhn finished Sixth, with Bobby East Seventh, Cole Whitt Eighth, Jon Stanbrough Ninth, and Daryn Pittman rounding out the top 10.
Brad Loyet and Kuhn, won the two 20-lap B Mains on Saturday, and Scott Weir and Casey Shuman split winning honors in the two C Mains. Californian Ronnie Gardner and Arizona’s R.J. Johnson won the two D Mains, and A.J. Fike and Rick Hendrix won the two E Mains.
F Main winners were Jody Rosenboom and Aaron Pierce, while Garrett Hansen and Brandon Waelti were winners in the G Mains.
Austin Brown and Greg Bragg won the two H Main events, with Cameron Hagin and Kellen Conover as the victors in the two I Mains. Troy Rutherford and Courtney Erfurth won the J Mains, and Donovan Peterson took the shortened K Main event.
With a super competitive race that ended with one of the closest battles in history, the 25th running of the Chili Bowl Nationals could very well have been the best one yet. For complete results check out www.circletrack.com
|25th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Main Event Results|
|1.||39 Kevin Swindell, Germantown, TN |
|2.||1 Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN |
|3.||05P Michael Pickens, Auckland, NZ |
|4.||36 Jonathan Beason, Broken Arrow, OK |
|5.||39C Bryan Clauson, Noblesville, IN |
|6.||17B Brad Kuhn, Avon, IN |
|7.||4E Bobby East, Brownburg, IN |
|8.||71 Cole Whitt, Alpine, CA |
|9.||51X Jon Stanbrough, Avon, IN |
|10.||21 Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK |
|11.||0 Jerry Coons Jr., Tucson, AZ |
|12.||8K Donnie Ray Crawford, Broken Arrow, OK |
|13.||05 Brad Loyet, Sunset Hills, MO |
|14.||05G Damion Gardner, Concord, CA |
|15.||55K Nick Knepper, Belleville, IL |
|16.||21K Cory Kruseman, Ventura, CA |
|17.||26 Shane Golobic, Fremont, CA |
|18.||4X Dave Darland, Lincoln, IN |
|19.||3 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Olive Branch, MS |
|20.||91X Jason Leffler, Long Beach, CA |
|21.||1ST Shane Cottle, Kokomo, IN |
|22.||71B Jac Haudenschild, Wooster, OH |
|23.||25 Steve Buckwalter, Royersford, PA |
|24.||2T Thomas Meseraull, San Jose, CA|