This week, IMS Staff Photographer Chris Jones is providing updates from the 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl presented by General Tire in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here are his observations and photos from Thursday’s action.
Just as Wednesday night was all Rico Abreu, Thursday belonged to his teammate Christopher Bell. Bell won his heat race, was second in his qualifying race and led every lap in the feature to earn a starting spot in Saturday’s feature race. The other automatic qualifiers on Thursday were Jerry Coons Jr. and Shane Cottle. Saturday will be the 13th consecutive feature race start for Coons which is an amazing statistic given the number of drivers each year vying for the 24 spots.
Sara Fisher was on the track on Thursday, her first time in a race car since last year’s Chili Bowl. Similar to her brother-in-law Kyle O’Gara, she finished sixth in her heat race which meant she had to work her way through elimination races to make the feature. She had an “eventual” C-Main where she was involved in two incidents and had to go to the back of the field each time. After the second incident, she was able to pick up the pace and advance through the field, ultimately finishing sixth out of 14 cars. Unfortunately, only the top four advanced, so Sarah was done for the night. She will return on Saturday when she will have a chance to work her way through a number of elimination races to reach the feature race.
Former Brickyard 400 entrants Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier both had strong runs with each one making it through to Thursday’s final race. Stenhouse finished sixth and Allgaier was 18th.
The racing on Thursday was just as exciting as Wednesday, and again the stands were full to capacity. With 84 cars on the track on Thursday, there were 21 races (heats, qualifying races, and elimination races) leading up to the feature race. The all-star crew of track workers does a great job of keeping the track in good shape and keeping the program moving with minimal interruptions.
In the next report on Monday, we will have results from Friday’s Qualifying event (which includes Bryan Clauson and Kasey Kahne) and Saturday’s final events.