Kyle Larson led all 50 laps but needed to hold off late charges by Christopher Bell and Justin Grant to win Saturday night’s 35th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. The win is the second straight Chili Bowl victory for Larson.
Grant would finish second and Tanner Thorson placed third as Toyota-powered drivers swept the three podium finishes for the second year in a row.
Starting from the pole, Grant pulled out to the lead on lap one, but a caution came out resulting in a complete restart. As the field came back to the green, Larson would assume the top spot running the high side with Grant running second and Bell in third.
Grant made a number of runs at Larson but couldn’t complete a pass as the top three stayed intact throughout much of the race. Behind them, Thorson was the driver on the move climbing from the 11th starting position into the top five on lap 30.
As the laps began to wind down, Bell began to make his move, overtaking Grant for second on lap 46 and then quickly closing on Larson. The two leaders began to hit heavy traffic before the yellow waived with four laps remaining.
On the restart, Bell would make repeated attempts to pass on laps 52 and 53, pulling up side-by-side with Larson, but couldn’t complete the pass. Finally, he went high into turn four, but hit the curb, flipping his car and bringing the field to a halt. He would eventually place 14th.
That would set up a green/white/checker situation with Grant moving up to second, followed by Thorson and Cannon McIntosh. Grant made his move on the green flag but wasn’t able to stick it on the high side into one, bobbling and almost going over. He was able to save it, but it ended bottling up traffic behind him with Tyler Courtney flipping to bring out another caution flag.
On the final restart, it was all Larson as he went on to take the checkered flag, followed by Grant, Thorson and McIntosh as Toyota-powered cars took the top four finishing positions.
Overall, Toyota had a program best 14 drivers qualify for the 24-car A Main feature on Saturday with Chris Windom (sixth), Brad Sweet (eighth) and Spencer Bayston (ninth) also finishing in the top 10.
This year’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals featured more than 300 entries.
Toyota Chili Bowl Notes:
– Toyota-powered drivers have now won seven consecutive Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, previously winning with Kyle Larson in 2020, Christopher Bell in 2019, 2018 and 2017; and Rico Abreu in 2016 and 2015.
– To go along with a sweep of Saturday’s A Main podium, Toyota drivers from four different teams combined to win all five of this year’s five preliminary night features. In addition, Christopher Bell won the Race of Champions on Tuesday night.
– Fourteen Toyota-powered drivers advanced to this year’s A Main, featuring drivers from seven different teams with KLR, CB Industries, Keith Kunz Motorsports, RMS Racing, Dave Mac Motorsports, Hahn Racing and Joe B. Miller Motorsports all represented.
– Toyota Keith Kunz Motorsports driver Daison Pursley earned 2021 Chili Bowl Rookie of the Year honors after placing tenth in tonight’s B Main. The 16-year-old Locust Grove, Oklahoma native beat out more than 70 rookies in this year’s field.
Tyler Gibbs, Toyota Racing Development general manager: “Everyone at Toyota Racing Development is extremely proud to have earned a seventh consecutive Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals title. We have been very fortunate to have teamed with so many talented, hard-working individuals over the past seven years. To have three different teams finish in the top three and seven different teams reach tonight’s A Main is proof of the great partners we have.”
Christopher Bell: “It was disappointing, but I left it all on the table. Unfortunately, it came up a little bit short. Hopefully, it was a good race for the fans. I know it was exciting as always here at the Chili Bowl in my seat. The track just took forever to widen out and we were just following each other for so long. I knew it was getting toward the end there, so I just laid it all on the line.”
Tanner Thorson: “It was a good night. We struggled our on prelim night, but we were able to fight back and get back to the front to finish fourth. That put us in a solid starting position tonight. We started fourth in the ‘B’ and won by a pretty good margin. Then we started 11th in the A and worked our way up to the front. I felt like our Dave Mac Motorsports Toyota was one of the fastest race cars out there. Hats off to my guys and my sponsors in Healing Tree, Reliable, Smith Titanium and the whole Dave Mac team.”
Justin Grant: “I didn’t have a great run on Kyle, but it was green/white/checker. I didn’t come to Tulsa to run second. I’m here to win and thought this might be our only shot. I knew he was pretty good in the curve, so I went for and thought maybe he’ll bobble into one. I thought we were going to turn over, but then Tanner Thorson slammed into my left front and knocked me back out of the year and it took off and we still finished second. It caused some melee behind us. It was unfortunate for those guys, but I think anyone else would have had the same mindset that I had. Kyle made a few bobbles and we could keep close, but then he’d recover so well.”
Daison Pursley: “It’s pretty cool to win the Rookie of the Year awar. You only get one chance to win it, so I’m honored to add my name to it. I can’t thank Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby enough for the chance to do it.”
Toyota Chili Bowl Results
|01||Kyle Larson||Elk Grove, CA||A Main – 1st|
|2J||Justin Grant||Ione, CA||A Main – 2nd|
|08||Tanner Thorson||Minden, NV||B Main to A Main -3rd|
|71K||Cannon McIntosh||Bixby, Okla.||A Main – 4th|
|89||Chris Windom||Canton, IL||B Main to A Main – 6th|
|1R||Brad Sweet||Grass Valley, CA||B Main to A Main – 8th|
|1S||Spencer Bayston||Lebanon, IN||B Main to A Main – 9th|
|25X||Alex Bright||Collegeville, PA||A Main – 12th|
|84X||Christopher Bell||Norman, OK||A Main – 14th|
|97||Rico Abreu||St. Helena, Calif.||A Main – 16th|
|52||Blake Hahn||Sapulpa, OK||B Main to A Main – 17th|
|67||Buddy Kofoid||Penngrove, CA||A Main – 19th|
|7X||Thomas Meseraull||San Jose, CA||A Main – 21st|
|49J||Joe B. Miller||Millersville, MO||B Main to A Main – 24th|
|32T||Trey Marcham||Newcastle, OK||C Main to B Main – 8th|
|9P||Daison Pursley||Locust Grove, OK||C Main to B Main – 10th|
|27||Tucker Klaasmeyer||Paola, KS||D Main to B Main – 11th|
|1D||David Gravel||Watertown, CT||B Main – 12th|
|28||Ace McCarthy||Tahlequah, OK||C Main to B Main – 12th|
|97K||Jesse Love||Redwood City, CA||B Main – 14th|
|84||Gio Scelzi||Fresno, CA||C Main to B Main – 15th|
|5D||Zach Daum||Pocohontas, IL||B Main – 18th|
|87||Aaron Reutzel||Kannapolis, IL||B Main – 19th|
|35||Jacob Denny||Columbus, OH||B Main – 20th|
|8J||Jonathan Beason||Broken Arrow, OK||C Main – 7th|
|15A||Emerson Axsom||Franklin, IN||C Main – 8th|
|91T||Tyler Thomas||Collinsville, OK||D Main to C Main – 8th|
|21T||Carson Macedo||Lemoore, CA||C Main – 10th|
|71X||Brian Carber||Pipersville, PA||C Main – 12th|
|20H||Noah Harris||Broken Arrow, OK||D Main to C Main – 15th|
|08K||Michael Faccinto||Hanford, CA||C Main – 16th|
|71||Kaylee Bryson||Muskogee, OK||C Main – 17th|
|32||Gary Taylor||Snohomish, WA||C Main – 19th|
|56i||Luke Icke||Littleton, CO||E Main to D Main – 11th|
|4CM||Cody Jessup||Madera, CA||D Main – 14th|
|98K||Tanner Carrick||Lincoln, CA||D Main – 16th|
|67K||Holley Hollan||Tulsa, OK||F Main to E Main -10th|
|14||Jesse Colwell||Red Bluff, CA||E Main – 15th|
|4D||Robert Dalby||Anaheim, CA||E Main – 20th|
|91A||Chris Andrews||Sandusky, OH||F Main – 14th|
|17||Tanner Berryhill||Bixby, OK||F Main – 15th|
|26R||Tristin Thomas||Burlington, WA||F Main – 19th|
|79S||Landon Simon||Indianapolis, IN||F Main – 19th|
|26||Cory Eliason||Visalia, CA||F Main – 20th|
|25K||Taylor Reimer||Bixby, OK||G Main – 7th|
|10||Santino Ferrucci||Woodbury, CT||G Main – 10th|
|79||Ryan Hall||Midlothian, TX||H Main to G Main – 16th|
|25C||Courtney Crone||Penngrove, CA||K Main to I Main – 8th|
|1K||Brayton Lynch||Springfield, IL||K Main to I Main – 9th|
|5W||Ben Worth||Coalinga, CA||J Main – 9th|
|91S||Kyle Shipley||Kingman, KS||J Main – DNS|
|81X||Dillon Welch||Carmel, IN||J Main – DNS|
|79M||Keith Martin||Burleson, TX||J Main – DNS|
|50K||Kaeden Cornell||Willard, MO||L Main – 14th|
|4F||Chad Frewaldt||Kansas City, MO||L Main – DNS|
Toyota Racing PR