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Alex Bright Pulls Off Stunning Victory in Chili Bowl 2016 Opener; Thorson Tops VIROC VIII


Chili Bowl Nationals

Alex Bright Pulls Off Stunning Victory in Chili Bowl 2016 Opener; Thorson Tops VIROC VIII

(Image Credit: Pat Grant)

TULSA, Okla. (January 12, 2016) With only a few feet to spare at the line, Pennsylvania's Alex Bright held off Indiana's Joey Saldana at the line to kick off the 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire on a high note; topping Tuesday's Warren Cat Qualifying Night for his first Chili Bowl preliminary score.

Marking the second time since 2014 that Alex has made the show, he was asked how special the preliminary night win was to him, "Absolutely amazing. This possibly tops as one of the best wins of my career, if not it definitely ties the one big race in Australia I won, but Saturday would definitely top them all. This is big for me."

Giving chase from the eight starting spot, Bright cracked the top five by Lap 6 as California's Kyle Larson took off with the lead. Sitting comfortably ahead of Jonathan Beason, the Oklahoma shoe worked to hold off Zach Daum, while at the same time Alex Bright quietly continued his march to the front.

Taking over third on Lap 9, Bright jumped to second the following lap. In the right place at the right time, the caution flew on Lap 11 as leader Kyle Larson found himself the victim of a slower car. Finding the No 22e stalled off the exit of the second turn, the resulting impact would send Larson spinning to a stop. Kyle would restart at the tail of the field.

"It was unfortunate he [Kyle] got caught up in a wreck," said Bright. "He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that's racing. We've all been in that position."

"I don't think that's all he had," continued Alex when asked about his chances had Larson not crashed. "It would've been interesting to see what would have happened. I think we definitely had something for him."

Challenged by Daum on the restart, Zach would end up tripping back to third as Jonathan Beason was able to sneak between the wall and the right rear of the No. 5d. Building some breathing room, the fight for second was anything but calm as Beason, Daum, and Spencer Bayston looked like LA traffic, going after each other in nearly every turn. Three wide the length of the back stretch, the race was slowed on Lap 21 for a flip in turn four.

Going for a Hail Mary slide on the restart, Beason slammed the cushion in turn four, causing a domino effect that brought Spencer Bayston to a halt. Going for the same slide again on the ensuing restart, the cushion again bit the No. 8j, allowing Joey Saldana to suddenly jump into second.

Working every angle possible on the No. 77b in the closing laps, Bright would edge out Joey by 0.144 seconds at the line.

"I don't know how in the hell to drive these racecars to tell you the truth. It's just an honor to race a Midget with these guys. Last year I finished fourth, so I missed it by one," said Saldana. "Just putting yourself in the show, I've never done that before so for me it's a huge honor to say I get to race the A Main on Saturday night."

Zach Daum was the final transfer into Saturday's 55 lap A-Feature.

"There are eight or 10 crown jewel events for Midget racing and this is at the top of the list so to be locked into it is big. Less than eight percent of the drivers here will make the race. There is no other race in the world that tough to make," commented Zach about making the cut. "We work all year for the Chili Bowl, basically. We are always learning, always trying, and just trying to make our racecar better."

Jonathan Beason settled for fourth with Arizona's R.J. Johnson scoring Hard Charger honors; coming from 16th to round out the top-five.

Chad Boespflug advanced six spots to finish sixth with Matt Sherrell seventh and Andrew Felker eighth. Rebounding from the Lap 11 crash, Kyle Larson charged back to finish ninth with Dillon Welch completing the top-ten.

In a stunning display, the eighth annual Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions found a new champion as 2015 NMDoTY, Tanner Thorson, held off the hard charging No. 71k of Kyle Larson. Taking advantage of a restart near the race's half-way point, Thorson snagged the lead from Tracy Hines. Joined by Larson in the process, the pair dueled nearly the entire last half of the 20 lap affair with Thorson able to hold off several attempts at a Kyle Larson slide-job.

Tuesday's Warren Cat Qualifying Night saw 85 drivers check in. The week's flip count hit eight on the opening night with all drivers involved able to walk away.

The 30th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl National presented by General Tire continues on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 with the River Spirit Casino Qualifying Night. Full roster of scheduled drivers, as well as information regarding the event can be found at


Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire
Tulsa Expo Raceway - Tulsa, Okla.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Warren Cat Qualifying Night

Car Count: 85

Budweiser Heat Races: Top 40 in passing points advance to Qualifiers.

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 5D-Zach Daum[5]; 2. 4H-Tom Harris[3]; 3. 17J-Chase Johnson[7]; 4. 22E-Cameron Hagin[6]; 5. 3FF-Mason Zeigler[4]; 6. 30T-Larry Bratti[1]; 7. (DNF) 7W-Kory Schudy[8]

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 1PW-Paul White[3]; 2. 3C-Raven Culp[1]; 3. 44X-Wesley Smith[8]; 4. 55-Nick Knepper[6]; 5. 35F-Michael Faccinto[7]; 6. 44J-Jared Sewell[2]; 7. 10-George White[5]; 8. 0B-A.J. Johnson[4]

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 39B-Spencer Bayston[3]; 2. 3N-Jake Neuman[2]; 3. 7H-Darren Hagen[6]; 4. 45X-C.J. Johnson[7]; 5. 6C-Jeff Flesher[8]; 6. 17KT-Joe Janowski[5]; 7. 59-Richard Harvey Jr[4]; 8. 56Z-Mindy McCord[1]

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 8J-Jonathan Beason[8]; 2. 5$-Danny Smith[1]; 3. 51J-R.J. Johnson[7]; 4. 12K-Zac Taylor[2]; 5. 99-Kevin Chaffee[5]; 6. 96-Cody Brewer[3]; 7. 19N-Nick O'Neal[6]; 8. 26-Dustin Golobic[4]

Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 0T-Tyler Brehm[2]; 2. 11C-Chett Gehrke[6]; 3. 00-Chase Briscoe[1]; 4. 0S-Dylan Westbrook[8]; 5. (DNF) 2S-Travis Scott[5]; 6. (DNF) 3M-Brent Rees[3]; 7. (DNF) 37T-Tim Kent[4]; 8. (DNF) 05-Brad Loyet[7]

Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 93-Dustin Morgan[1]; 2. 39S-Kevin Thomas Jr[4]; 3. 17-Joey Saldana[3]; 4. 2-Ryan Hall[2]; 5. 23-Jimmy Light[7]; 6. 77X-Katlynn Leer[8]; 7. 14T-Tony Rossi[5]; 8. (DNF) 32A-Garrett Aitken[6]

Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 14W-Matt Westfall[2]; 2. 91A-Chris Andrews[1]; 3. 53H-Austin Archdale[4]; 4. 17E-Blake Edwards[5]; 5. 3T-Tim Barber[7]; 6. 5J-Jeff Crook[8]; 7. 76J-David Jones[6]; 8. 5BB-Bobby Brewer[3]

Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 57B-Chad Boespflug[1]; 2. 77B-Alex Bright[5]; 3. 18-Tony Bruce Jr[3]; 4. 11A-Andrew Felker[4]; 5. 4M-J.J. Ercse[7]; 6. 81-Jerry Hammock[2]; 7. 9H-Holly Porter[6]; 8. (DNF) 0K-Don O'Keefe Jr[8]

Heat 9 (8 Laps): 1. 99P-Dillon Welch[1]; 2. 71K-Kyle Larson[7]; 3. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[4]; 4. 2D-Steve Davis[2]; 5. 7SS-Wade Seiler[5]; 6. 46-Kenney Johnson[3]; 7. 926-Morgan Frewaldt[6]

Heat 10 (8 Laps): 1. 78-Nick Wean[1]; 2. 88T-Tyler Nelson[4]; 3. 7RS-Merril Lamb[7]; 4. (DNF) 35X-Zach Hampton[6]; 5. (DNF) 98-Jarid Blondel[2]; 6. (DNF) 0Z-Joe Rinne[3]; 7. (DNF) P40-Aaron Dromgoole[5]

Heat 11 (8 Laps): 1. 55B-Alex Bowman[4]; 2. 35M-Matt Sherrell[7]; 3. 73T-Trey Marcham[6]; 4. 9U-Doug McCune[1]; 5. 5C-Colten Cottle[5]; 6. 21T-Ty Hulsey[2]; 7. 3-Dustin Weland[3]

D-Features: Top 2 advance to corresponding C-Feature.

D Feature 1 (10 Laps): 1. 21T-Ty Hulsey[1]; 2. 0G-Glenn Styres[8]; 3. 10-George White[4]; 4. 32A-Garrett Aitken[9]; 5. 9H-Holly Porter[3]; 6. 37T-Tim Kent[6]; 7. 56Z-Mindy McCord[11]; 8. 19N-Nick O'Neal[2]; 9. (DNF) 26-Dustin Golobic[10]; 10. (DNF) 7W-Kory Schudy[7]; DNS P40-Aaron Dromgoole

D Feature 2 (10 Laps): 1. 05-Brad Loyet[8]; 2. 14T-Tony Rossi[4]; 3. 76J-David Jones[2]; 4. 5BB-Bobby Brewer[10]; 5. 3-Dustin Weland[6]; 6. 30T-Larry Bratti[1]; 7. 0K-Don O'Keefe Jr[7]; 8. 926-Morgan Frewaldt[3]; 9. (DNF) 59-Richard Harvey Jr[5]; 10. (DNF) 0B-A.J. Johnson[9]

C-Features: Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature.

C Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 35F-Michael Faccinto[1]; 2. 11A-Andrew Felker[3]; 3. 2-Ryan Hall[4]; 4. 96-Cody Brewer[10]; 5. 3T-Tim Barber[2]; 6. 5C-Colten Cottle[8]; 7. 0G-Glenn Styres[14]; 8. 2S-Travis Scott[7]; 9. 9U-Doug McCune[6]; 10. 46-Kenney Johnson[11]; 11. 98-Jarid Blondel[9]; 12. (DNF) 21T-Ty Hulsey[13]; 13. (DNF) 77X-Katlynn Leer[5]; 14. (DNF) 44J-Jared Sewell[12]

C Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 23-Jimmy Light[1]; 2. 05-Brad Loyet[13]; 3. 3FF-Mason Zeigler[8]; 4. 99-Kevin Chaffee[6]; 5. 81-Jerry Hammock[12]; 6. 14T-Tony Rossi[14]; 7. 12K-Zac Taylor[3]; 8. 4M-J.J. Ercse[2]; 9. 5J-Jeff Crook[5]; 10. 17KT-Joe Janowski[9]; 11. 0Z-Joe Rinne[11]; 12. 7SS-Wade Seiler[7]; 13. (DNF) 2D-Steve Davis[4]; 14. (DNF) 3M-Brent Rees[10]

Qualifiers: Top 16 in combined passing points advance to the A-Feature.

Q1 (10 Laps): 1. 39B-Spencer Bayston[4]; 2. 57B-Chad Boespflug[1]; 3. 8J-Jonathan Beason[6]; 4. 17-Joey Saldana[10]; 5. 22E-Cameron Hagin[9]; 6. 4H-Tom Harris[7]; 7. 55B-Alex Bowman[5]; 8. 88T-Tyler Nelson[2]; 9. 7RS-Merril Lamb[3]; 10. (DNF) 5$-Danny Smith[8]

Q2 (10 Laps): 1. 7H-Darren Hagen[2]; 2. 77B-Alex Bright[4]; 3. 5D-Zach Daum[6]; 4. 99P-Dillon Welch[1]; 5. 0T-Tyler Brehm[3]; 6. 18-Tony Bruce Jr[10]; 7. 55-Nick Knepper[9]; 8. 91A-Chris Andrews[8]; 9. 45X-C.J. Johnson[7]; 10. (DNF) 11C-Chett Gehrke[5]

Q3 (10 Laps): 1. 71K-Kyle Larson[6]; 2. 44X-Wesley Smith[5]; 3. 78-Nick Wean[1]; 4. 14W-Matt Westfall[3]; 5. 73T-Trey Marcham[2]; 6. 17J-Chase Johnson[4]; 7. 53H-Austin Archdale[8]; 8. 17E-Blake Edwards[10]; 9. 3N-Jake Neuman[7]; 10. 35X-Zach Hampton[9]

Q4 (10 Laps): 1. 39S-Kevin Thomas Jr[3]; 2. 35M-Matt Sherrell[6]; 3. 1PW-Paul White[5]; 4. 0S-Dylan Westbrook[1]; 5. 51J-R.J. Johnson[4]; 6. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[8]; 7. 93-Dustin Morgan[2]; 8. 6C-Jeff Flesher[9]; 9. 00-Chase Briscoe[10]; 10. 3C-Raven Culp[7]

B-Features: Top 4 advance to the A-Feature.

B Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 99P-Dillon Welch[1]; 2. 11A-Andrew Felker[14]; 3. 0S-Dylan Westbrook[2]; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[5]; 5. 91A-Chris Andrews[8]; 6. 00-Chase Briscoe[11]; 7. 55B-Alex Bowman[3]; 8. 3N-Jake Neuman[10]; 9. 96-Cody Brewer[16]; 10. 4H-Tom Harris[4]; 11. 88T-Tyler Nelson[7]; 12. 35F-Michael Faccinto[13]; 13. 7RS-Merril Lamb[9]; 14. 35X-Zach Hampton[12]; 15. (DNF) 53H-Austin Archdale[6]; 16. (DNF) 2-Ryan Hall[15]

B Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 18-Tony Bruce Jr[2]; 2. 0T-Tyler Brehm[1]; 3. 55-Nick Knepper[5]; 4. 17J-Chase Johnson[4]; 5. 73T-Trey Marcham[3]; 6. 93-Dustin Morgan[6]; 7. 11C-Chett Gehrke[8]; 8. 23-Jimmy Light[13]; 9. 05-Brad Loyet[14]; 10. 3C-Raven Culp[12]; 11. 6C-Jeff Flesher[7]; 12. 99-Kevin Chaffee[16]; 13. 3FF-Mason Zeigler[15]; 14. 5$-Danny Smith[11]; 15. 17E-Blake Edwards[10]; 16. 45X-C.J. Johnson[9]


VIROC VIII (20 Laps): 1. 67-Tanner Thorson[4]; 2. 71K-Kyle Larson[5]; 3. 24-Tracy Hines[1]; 4. 63-Bryan Clauson[12]; 5. 71-Christopher Bell[16]; 6. 15X-Chad Boat[9]; 7. 6K-Dave Darland[7]; 8. 67Z-Kasey Kahne[8]; 9. 47-Danny Stratton[2]; 10. 47X-Tim McCreadie[3]; 11. 5-Jerry Coons Jr[6]; 12. 97-Rico Abreu[17]; 13. 1ST-J.J. Yeley[10]; 14. 21K-Cory Kruseman[14]; 15. 4-Damion Gardner[13]; 16. 05-Brad Loyet[19]; 17. 22H-John Heydenreich[11]; 18. (DNF) 1-Sammy Swindell[18]; 19. (DNF) 39S-Kevin Thomas Jr[15]

A-Feature: Top 3 advance to Saturday's A-Feature.

A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 77B-Alex Bright[8]; 2. 17-Joey Saldana[11]; 3. 5D-Zach Daum[5]; 4. 8J-Jonathan Beason[2]; 5. 51J-R.J. Johnson[16]; 6. 57B-Chad Boespflug[12]; 7. 35M-Matt Sherrell[3]; 8. 11A-Andrew Felker[19]; 9. 71K-Kyle Larson[1]; 10. 99P-Dillon Welch[17]; 11. 14W-Matt Westfall[14]; 12. 18-Tony Bruce Jr[18]; 13. 17J-Chase Johnson[24]; 14. 39S-Kevin Thomas Jr[7]; 15. 39B-Spencer Bayston[4]; 16. 78-Nick Wean[13]; 17. 0S-Dylan Westbrook[21]; 18. 55-Nick Knepper[22]; 19. 0T-Tyler Brehm[20]; 20. 1PW-Paul White[10]; 21. (DNF) 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[23]; 22. (DNF) 7H-Darren Hagen[9]; 23. (DNF) 22E-Cameron Hagin[15]; 24. (DNF) 44X-Wesley Smith[6]

Lap Leaders: Kyle Larson 1-11; Alex Bright 12-25
Hard Charger: R.J. Johnson +11

Submitted By: Bryan Hulbert

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