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24th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals set for Jan 12-16


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24th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals Just Around the Corner


by Lonnie Wheatley


TULSA, Okla. (December 1, 2009) - December. Temperatures are dipping and the trees are bare in most parts of the nation.


Worse yet, at least for those many afflicted with that incurable passion for auto racing, the soothing sounds of radically souped-up engines screaming beyond comprehensible rev limits are few and far between, virtually silent for the time being in anticipation of the eventual whoosh of Santa's reindeer-powered sleigh.


There is an upside to the temporary silence of dirt tracks around the country though, as the Holiday season doesn't truly conclude until the final checkered flag has flown upon the best of America's Bowl events. It means that the premier auto racing event of the year, Tulsa, Oklahoma's Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, is little more than a month away.


Closing in on that quarter of a century mark, the 24th edition of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is slated for January 12-16, 2010, at the QuikTrip Center's Tulsa Expo Raceway at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds.


A tradition that started humbly enough as a two-day show that attracted 52 competitors and perhaps a handful or two more than 52 spectators in 1987 has evolved, if not mushroomed, into a worldwide showcase event that draws nearly 300 competitors and packs the spacious QuikTrip Center full of frenzied fans from around the world for five straight nights after a Monday afternoon practice session that whets the appetites of the most dedicated Chili Bowlers.


Competing in the ranks of the mighty Midget race cars atop the ¼-mile clay oval annually are drivers from all variety of motorsports disciplines, including Sprint Cars, Midgets, Dirt Late Models, DIRT Modifieds, NHRA Drag Racing and even NASCAR.


Drivers come from far and wide, comprising a truly international field that will include at least one Aussie and a pair of Kiwis from New Zealand in 2010.


It annually sets up perhaps one of the most challenging, competitive events in all of sports. What other major sporting event hasn't had a back-to-back winner in its 23 previous renditions?


In 23 previous editions of the Chili Bowl Nationals, snaring that coveted Golden Driller winner's trophy on back-to-back occasions has proven a difficult task. So difficult in fact, that there has not yet been a back-to-back Chili Bowl champion.


That's something that Tennessee's Sammy Swindell will try to change in January. And, if anyone can pull off the repeat, Slammin' Sammy could be just the guy.


After all, few can boast the past Chili Bowl success that Swindell can. Actually, nobody can, as no other driver has accumulated five Golden Drillers.


After reaching the top step of the podium in 1989's Third Annual Chili Bowl, Swindell added on wins in 1992, 1996 and 1998 before waiting eleven years to add an unprecedented fifth Chili Bowl to kick off the 2009 racing season.


Care for some perspective? While Sammy has five Chili Bowl wins, the only other drives to score multiple wins include NASCAR star Tony Stewart, California's Cory Kruseman and Wisconsin's Dan Boorse. And they've won it just two times apiece, with another elite dozen drivers reveling in Chili Bowl glory on one occasion.


Those other twelve past Chili Bowl champions include Damion Gardner, Tim McCreadie, Tracy Hines, Jay Drake, Billy Boat, Donnie Beechler, Andy Hillenburg, Dave Blaney, Lealand McSpadden, Jon Heydenreich, Scott Hatton and inaugural race winner Rich Vogler.


After an event record 281 competitors took part in the 2009 edition of the Chili Bowl, the 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals kicks off with a Monday, January 11, practice session. Four full nights of qualifying action follow on Tuesday through Friday, January 12-15, setting the grid for the Saturday, January 16, Chili Bowl Championship feature events.


While all four qualifying nights will include full cards of heat races, qualifying races and feature events, the Tuesday night, January 12, card will also include the Second Annual Chili Bowl Race of Champions.


The top three finishers from the Qualifying Night features will automatically lock into the Saturday night, January 16, 50-lap Chili Bowl championship feature with the balance of Saturday's championship feature events lined up according to Qualifying Night finishes.


A limited number of reserved seats remain for Tuesday night's Qualifying event and Race of Champions for just $26 apiece. Tickets may be obtained by calling the ticket office at 918-838-3777.


Only pit passes remain for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is available at http://www.chilibowl.com/.

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Lucas Oil Chili Bowl 2010 – Kruseman and Bondio to Field Separate Entries


by Lonnie Wheatley


TULSA, Okla. (December 4, 2009) – It has ranked as one of the most successful owner-driver combinations in Chili Bowl history. Teamed for eleven of the past twelve editions of the prestigious event that takes place atop the QuikTrip Center's Tulsa Expo Raceway clay oval, the duo has come away with the coveted Golden Driller trophy on two occasions and recorded several other podium finishes.


But, when the 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals takes place on January 12-16, 2010, things will look a little different, as that team won't be intact any more.


For the first time since 2001 and just the second time since 1997, Ventura, California's Cory Kruseman won't be at the wheel of one of the unique Andy Bondio No. 47 entries.


Bondio, who earned the first of three Golden Drillers as a car owner when Lealand McSpadden won the Chili Bowl in 1991, will still field a pair of entries for this year's Chili Bowl. Cali shoe Garrett Hansen, who made the Chili Bowl championship feature cut in both 2006 and 2007, will fill the seat of the primary Bondio entry with the second driver yet to be determined.


Kruseman will be in the house as well, anchoring his own super-team of five entries that also includes 2001 Chili Bowl champion Jay Drake.


Kruseman and Bondio first joined forces at the Chili Bowl in 1998. A runner-up finish the following year kicked off a remarkable run of six podium finishes in seven tries, including victories in 2000 and 2004. That one time outside the top three was a 13th place finish in 2003 in which what appeared to be a sure victory came up just five laps short due to a reported dead battery, although some speculate to this day that the more likely culprit was a depleted fuel cell.


A year after the duo's second win, Bondio pushed the envelope of innovation when he showed up in Tulsa with a motorcycle tire mounted on the left front of the Kruseman-appointed Midget. "The Kruser" responded with preliminary feature wins in both 2005 and 2006, finishing second and third, respectively, in the Saturday night finales.


That third-place run in 2006 ultimately proved to be the last taste of Chili Bowl success for the Bondio-Kruseman combination, as the pair has missed the championship feature cut over the past three renditions of the Chili Bowl.


This year, Bondio is set to try his luck with USAC Western States Midget champion Hansen, who drove Bondio's No. 47 entry to five USAC Western States wins in 2009 while also knocking off a pair of Sprint Car feature wins. Hansen also ranked third in USAC/CRA Sprint Car points.


Staying busy with his Ventura-based Sprint Car and Midget Driving School, Kruseman still mixed in a full slate of events with three Sprint Car feature wins and a Midget score over the course of 2009.


Kruseman will be one of at least five past winners among this year's Chili Bowl field, with other past event champions expected to include defending race winner Sammy Swindell, Tim McCreadie, Tracy Hines and Jay Drake. Other past winners that are likely contenders include Damion Gardner and Jon Heydenreich. Swindell bested a Chili Bowl record 281 competitors in January of 2009 for an unprecedented fifth Chili Bowl win.


Those past winners along with several other selected drivers will compete in the Tuesday night, January 12, Vacuworx International Chili Bowl Race of Champions, an added element to the Warren CAT Qualifying night slate of events that kicks off five full nights of competition. The four qualifying nights' feature finishes will determine the lineups for Saturday's championship slate of feature events.


A limited number of tickets remain for the Tuesday night, January 12, Warren CAT Qualifying event that includes the Second Annual Vacuworx International Chili Bowl Race of Champions. Tickets are available for just $26 by calling 918-838-3777.


Only pit passes remain for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


Approximately 125 entries have already been submitted for the 24th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, with more expected to flood the event office prior to the December 15 pre-entry deadline. It is anticipated that the initial entry list will be revealed early next week.


Additional information regarding the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals is available at http://www.chilibowl.com/.

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