We’re three nights down in the 35th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals with three night to go. So far, this year’s classic has looked a lot like the ones in the recent past. On Wednesday night, Rico Abreu dominated the A-Main feature in securing his ninth career main event start this weekend.
Abreu, in the No. 97 Rowdy Energy Drink entry dominated the 30 lap feature en route to his sixth straight preliminary night win, all coming on Wednesday night’s at that. He’s won every Wednesday night preliminary feature that he’s competed in since 2015. The only exception was that when he didn’t race in it in 2017.
Abreu, is eyeing his third career Golden Driller in the Tulsa Expo Raceway now and showed everyone on Wednesday night that he should be among the main contenders to do so too. A night after flipping in the VIROC, he dominated in besting the field by 3.588 seconds.
Alex Bright finished runner-up to Abreu and will race in Saturday’s A-Main feature as well. It will be his third career start in the main event.
Brad Sweet finished third while Jake Neuman and Colby Copeland rounded out the top five.
The night though gave a lot of attention to defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott. He is having a “blast” so far and noted that he hopes this isn’t just a one-off deal for him. His night consisted of a fourth place finish in his heat race, followed by coming home seventh in his qualifying race. That put him in the B-Main to where he was running fifth before spinning on track. That forced him to restart in the back as he solidly made up eight positions after to come home eighth.
It will put him in the F-Main on Saturday night. That though is a tall task ahead of him. The last time a driver went from the F-Main to the A-Main for the main event was JJ Yeley in 2004. With no just now getting his feet wet in the dirt world in terms of Midgets, that’s a lot to ask for Elliott this weekend.
Ryan Newman had a quiet night as he was sixth in his heat, second in the C-Main but 10th in the B-Main.
One driver who wasn’t quiet was Brett Moffitt. He flipped early in the night and was hit hard by another driver. Luckily, he was able to walk away. He’d rebound though to come home second in his heat race, seventh in his qualifying race and fourth in the B-Main which propelled him to an A-Main appearance. It was a race he’d finish 18th in.
Moffitt, said that he still has no clue what he’s doing as he too is making his Chili Bowl debut. It’s impressive to say the least.
Santino Ferrucci also made it all the way to the B-Main last night. He finished 10th, two spots behind Elliott.
Tonight will feature Christopher Bell, Garrett Smithley and Ryan Ellis from the NASCAR world. Bell, is the overwhelming favorite as he’s won the Thursday night A-Main preliminary night feature for five straight years now and six of the last seven overall.
He won the VIROC on Tuesday night and has a spot to the A-Main by virtue of that so long as he doesn’t finish in the top two tonight. The odds are Bell won’t need that provisional as he’s been a beast on this night in the past.
That’s why this year is looking a lot like the past.
On Monday night, Cannon McIntosh won his second straight Monday night preliminary event and stamped his name into the main event on Saturday by virtue of that. Tyler Courtney finished second.
On Tuesday night, Larson won his fourth straight Tuesday night A-Main and fifth in the last seven years as well. He will try and become a repeat Chili Bowl champion on Saturday as he won last year and will be appearing in his 10th A-Main.
Then, you get Abreu winning his sixth straight Wednesday night A-Main feature and now Bell eyeing his sixth straight too on Thursday night.
Friday now has shown more parity with three different winners in the last five years. Still, Justin Grant has won three of the last four Friday night A-Main features as that came after Bryan Clauson won three straight prior. Tanner Thorson won last year’s.