New Motor Sparks Tyler Nelson's Major Chili Bowl Improvement
By Jessica Jenkins
With a new engine to power him along and riding momentum from DuQuoin in December, Tyler Nelson had high expectations for his fourth run at the Chili Bowl. Looking forward to putting the motor struggles from last year's Tulsa appearance in the rearview mirror, the Kansas racer had his sights set forward.
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Taking a seventh place starting spot in the sixth heat on his qualifying night, Nelson made the right moves to gain passing points and finished third at the end of eight laps. That run put his white #88T in the top forty in points, earning him seventh place to take off from in the first qualifier. Competition was fierce, but he battled hard on his way to tenth place. That finish left the 20 year old out of the top sixteen in points, sending him into the first B Main to start eleventh. Still fighting the illness that had left him unable to run on Wednesday for his original qualifying night, Nelson finished up twelfth in Friday's B Main.
Getting stuck that far back on his preliminary night slotted Nelson into the first of two G Mains early in the day on Saturday. Racing off into turn three during the first lap, a car inside of him made contact and turned the personable racer around before the car tipped onto its side. They set him back upright and pushed him off to restart at the tail when the green flag flew again. The groove was so narrow that single-file racing was the name of game for the remainder of the feature that was smack dab in the middle of the "alphabet soup". Nelson managed to race his way back into twelfth, ending his fourth Chili Bowl with his second best result in the event.
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Afterwards Nelson reflected, "Overall it didn't go too bad, just wish I was a little better in the health department. I was sick, so I missed my preliminary night and had to go on Friday. Had a good heat race to put myself into a qualifier and unfortunately it was one of the toughest qualifiers of the week. Put us pretty deep in the field for the B and then I really just wasn't well enough that late in the night to make anything happen. [Saturday] when I got up I didn't feel the greatest either and got involved in an early wreck in the G. Drove back up to where I started, but it just is what it is with so many cars and everything. I think if I was in better health, I think we would have done a lot better. I'm pretty happy with the way the Chili Bowl went. I mean, the car is all in one piece and nothing is really torn up. I think our new motor program is going to do well for us and I can't wait to take it outdoors. That's going to be a lot of fun."
Huge thanks goes out to Nelson's sponsors Wilwood Brakes, Superior Bearing & Supply, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City, Weld Wheels, Regency Coffee & Vending as well as Jack Harris, Roger Mason and everyone else that made it possible to take part in the Chili Bowl.
Next up the Indiana resident has a two month break before USAC's season kicks off at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds in early March with the Shamrock Classic. Stay tuned to the Tyler Nelson Racing Facebook page for pictures from last week, an upcoming contest and more fun things. Or if you are on Twitter follow him @TylerNelson88.