Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (January 16, 2015) – Reigning event champion Bryan Clauson turned in a dominating performance by obliterating Friday night’s 78-car Vacuworx International Qualifying field at the 29th Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
After a strong run to second in Tuesday night’s VIROC VII event, the Noblesville, IN, racer began his official quest for another Golden Driller with a charge from fifth to first to win his heat race and then a run from sixth to first in his qualifier to secure the pole position for the 25-lap feature atop the Tulsa Expo Raceway clay oval.
It was pretty much game over at that point.
“We were fast out of the box Tuesday night, we really pretty much picked up where we left off last year,” Clauson explained 25 laps later.
With Dave Darland starting on his outside shoulder, Clauson put the Dooling-Rusty Kunz Curb Records No. 63 out front at the outset and set sail, lapping all the way up to 12th by the time the race’s only caution flew after 22 laps for a turn one tangle involving Darland and Damion Gardner, who were dicing for fourth.
While Clauson’s half-lap advantage was erased, eight lapped cars between himself and second-runner Chad Boat made the final three rounds a mere formality for the top step of the podium that Clauson earned by a 3.913-second margin.
In his wake though, nothing was settled until the checkered flag flew with Daryn Pittman taking second from Boat in the final rounds with Boat settling for the third and final lock-in position to Saturday’s 55-lap championship finale.
After winning a “B” Main, Tanner Thorson rallied from 18th to fourth with Darren Hagen rounding out the top five.
With all four nights of preliminary action in the books, a record number of 326 competitors will settle the final score in Saturday’s slate of events. The new total of 326 shattered the previous record number of 281.
For complete results, go to http://www.chilibowl.com/news/?i=26807&clk=featureNews.
(Photo courtesy of Dylan Duvall)