Toyota Captures Sixth Straight Chili Bowl Crown
Kyle Larson passed three-time defending champion Christopher Bell on lap 39 and went on lead the final 17 laps to win Saturday night’s 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Center.
It marked the sixth consecutive Chili Bowl Nationals title for Toyota, which also swept the podium as Bell finished second and 17-year-old Cannon McIntosh placed third.
Starting from the outside of the front row, it was Bell who went straight to the lead and began to pull away early. Behind him, Tanner Thorson was second, followed by Larson, Rico Abreu, Jonathan Beason and McIntosh.
By lap 16, Larson had moved into second and shortly after, Bell started to get into lap traffic before a series of yellow flags would bunch the field. As the race passed the midway point, Larson worked to stay with Bell on the restarts and it would eventually pay off big for the California native.
Bell would lead the first 38 laps before Larson would take advantage of a restart, staying close through turn two and then throwing a slider into turn three to take the lead. Once out in front, Larson was comfortably in control the rest of the way, with Bell holding down second.
Behind them, McIntosh had climbed from the eighth starting position up to fourth and eventually overtook Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) teammate Rico Abreu for the third spot.
At the checkered flag, it was Larson leading Bell by .801 seconds, with McIntosh third and Abreu would end up fifth to give Toyota four of the top-five finishers on the night.
Also earning top-10 finishes on the night were KKM’s Buddy Kofoid, who placed seventh, Blake Hahn, in eighth and Tucker Klaasmeyer in the tenth position. For his efforts, the 18-year-old Kofoid would earn Rookie of the Year honors as the only first-year Chili Bowl driver to advance to Saturday’s A Main.
Overall, Toyota had a program record 13 drivers qualify for the 24-car A Main feature on Saturday. Thomas Meseraull, who narrowly made it back for Saturday’s feature after a family emergency called him back to Indiana, would finish 12th after getting caught up in another car’s flip while challenging for a top-five spot. Chris Windom finished 14th, Jason McDougal was 15th, Zach Daum placed 16th, Michael Pickens was 20th and Aaron Reutzel rounded out the Toyota contingent in 23rd.
This year’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals featured more than 350 entries.
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