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 Wednesday’s action.
The star of Wednesday’s racing activities was defending champion Rico Abreu. Rico won his heat race, won his qualifying race and led the final 13 laps of the 25-lap feature to earn a starting spot in Saturday’s feature race. The other automatic qualifiers on Wednesday were Tyler Thomas and Thomas Meseraull.
Of note to IMS fans, Kyle O’Gara, brother-in-law and teammate to Sarah Fisher, finished sixth in this heat race which meant he had to work his way through elimination races to make the feature. He finished sixth in the C-Main, which was not good enough to transfer forward. He will return on Saturday when he will have a chance to work his way through a number of elimination races to reach the Feature race.
Former Indy 500 and Brickyard 400 entrant J.J. Yeley was fourth in his heat, won his C-Main race to earn a spot in the B-Main. He got caught up in an accident and his night ended with a 15th-place finish in the B-Main.
A surprise “driver” on Wednesday was Indy 500 veteran and NASCAR star Tony Stewart. No, he was not a late entrant, he was helping the track with track preparation and got behind the wheel of a tractor to help improve the racing surface.
As expected, the racing action was fast and furious all night long with 81 entrants gunning for the three automatic qualifying spots. There were several accidents but all the drivers walked away. Through two nights of racing, 20 cars have flipped. Chad Frewaldt had the most spectacular accident on Wednesday.
Critter Malone somehow kept his car from going upside down when he got forced into the inside berm between turns 3 and 4.
The track is an oval, and similar to all other oval races, the track has four left turns. Given the power that the engines deliver to the rear wheels, often the drivers have to turn their front wheels to the right to turn left as demonstrated here by Chase Stockton in the Tony Elliott Foundation car.
Drivers to look for on Thursday include Sarah Fisher and Brickyard 400 veterans Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier. On Friday, Bryan Clauson and Kasey Kahne are entered.