Bell dominates Thursday’s preliminary night, Stenhouse Jr. leads entry list of final qualifying night for Chili Bowl, why this year looks a lot like last year so far

Christopher Bell is worth the price of admission to watch him race in a USAC Midget. The Oklahoma native gave the fans their money’s worth on Thursday night as he dominated the fourth night of preliminary night action en route to his sixth straight A-Main win on this very night of racing. Furthermore, he’s won the Thursday night feature in seven of the last eight years overall too.

Bell, started the A-Main in fourth and quickly moved up for a battle for the lead once the green flag dropped. He actually passed the leader twice but a caution came out on that very lap each time. By rule, the scoring goes back to the previous lap, meaning Bell had to give the led back in both instances.

But, on the third restart, Bell maneuvered to the lead on Lap 11 and never looked back to score his seventh preliminary night win overall which ties him with Cory Kruseman and Kyle Larson for second most all-time. Sammy Swindell’s eight are tops since this events inception in 1987.

Bell, will make his eighth main event on Saturday night as he’s finished in the top three in five of his previous seven tries. The NASCAR Cup Series driver also has four consecutive top two results and with his dominating win in Tuesday’s VIROC mixed with a dominating show on Thursday’s preliminary night, he looks like the overall favorite to take his fourth career Golden Driller.

Buddy Kofoid finished runner-up to Bell to secure his place in his second career Chili Bowl A-Main. Kofoid, is being compared to Bell and was last year’s Rookie of the Year for this prestigious race.

Speaking of last year, this week’s events so far has looked nearly identical to the one of 2020. Cannon McIntosh won last year on Monday night’s events and did so again this year. Kyle Larson won on Tuesday last year and Tuesday this year. Same for Rico Abreu on Wednesday and now Bell on Thursday.

Larson has won four straight features on Tuesday night’s in the Chili Bowl including five in the last seven years. Abreu has won six straight on Wednesday night and now Bell with his sixth consecutive on Thursday night and seven in the last eight.

It’s clear who the favorites are for tomorrow night’s race.

Bell, Larson and Abreu have combined to win each of the last six years in the Chili Bowl too. They’ve looked great again this year in winning three of the four preliminary night features and have also finished 1-2 in each of the past three years at that. All three were also in the top five in 2020 too. On top of that, they’ve led 145 out of the last 165 laps (88%) run in the A Main Feature.

Since 2018, only Logan Seavey has led a lap in the Chili Bowl’s A-Main outside of Larson, Bell and Abreu. He led the first 20 laps in 2019 before Bell and Larson took over from there.

Then, if you factor in the late great Bryan Clauson and you see further dominance. Larson, Bell, Abreu and Clauson combined to lead 87% (335-for-385) laps since 2014. Just Seavey (20 laps led in 2019), Justin Grant (25 laps led in 2017) and Caleb Armstrong (5 laps led in 2014) have led laps outside of this great foursome since 2014.

That’s astonishing.

Can anyone new join them this weekend? McIntosh and Kofoid appear to be in the next grouping but it doesn’t seem to be very close behind them.

2021 looks like 2020. 2020 looked a lot like 2019. 2019 looked similar to 2018. Bell-Larson-Abreu dominated those years.

Tonight’s action will feature Justin Allgaier, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kasey Kahne and JJ Yeley among NASCAR stars. Tanner Thorson won last year’s preliminary night action on Friday nigt, so with how things are going this year, expect him to be tonight’s favorite.

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