The Absence of Bell, Larson is Felt, but Chili Bowl Keeps Rolling
Jan 9, 2023
You know the old adage, that it’s better to be lucky than good, and even better to be both.
That was the story of Cannon McIntosh, who claimed his third qualifier victory over the last four years, on Opening Night for the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
The Dave Mac Motorsports No. 08 was the car to beat from the drop of the green flag until a leaky right rear tire began to place the results in doubt. On a restart with three laps remaining, McIntosh was clearly wounded with both Chris Windom and Shane Golobic sensing an opportunity to pounce.
"I wasn't sure if that last yellow was going to be good or bad, not knowing how many laps were left," McIntosh said after the race. "I had zero confidence going into the restart. I could just hear the right rear rolling over in the corner but luckily there were only three laps to go."
Adding to the good fortune was that Windom and Golobic were battling amongst themselves allowing McIntosh to sweep all 30 laps.
Windom was in a no-win scenario, in that he wasn't going to just follow McIntosh, but maybe he should have as it likely would have netted him a second-place finish and the transfer that came with it. Instead, Golobic got him at the line and now 'Big Daddy' is questioning the entire sequence.
"So, I saw that tire going down and knew he was going to the bottom," Windom said of McIntosh. "I thought it would help him a little bit having the tire so low with how slick it was.
"I wasn't going to just go down there and follow him, so I went to the top, and that's so tough here because it's so far around. It takes a lap or two to get wound up when it's so curby around the fence.
"I thought it was a good restart, but Shane was around the bottom and he snuck in there, starting racing me, and that killed my momentum on the frontstretch. That was all she wrote coming to the white flag."
Opportunity presented itself for Golobic and he accepted it.
"We benefitted from Cannon starting to go flat," he said. "Knowing he was going to the bottom and knowing that Chris was going to sell out to try to win the race, like any of us would, it all worked out because the top wasn't working for me all race anyway.
"So I went to the bottom and just tried to break his momentum, do it as gracefully as I could, but it was a Chili Bowl lock in and I had to get it."
To his point, the first and second place finishers in each qualifying night lock into the main event. The difference between second and third is starting in the top-10 of the main event on Saturday and a B feature on Saturday.
"It's huge," Golobic said. "Everyone who comes here knows what the B Mains are like. They can be pretty cutthroat with everyone trying to get those last spots. So, it's great to leave here tonight knowing that I can just relax the rest of the week and not have to stress about the B."
That’s stress that’s firmly on Wisdom, even though it’s a solid starting spot in a B, but he had the checkered flags in his sight but couldn’t close out on the transfer.
It’s still a good night with an asterisk.
"I think it is, even though selfishly for myself, it’s a prelim night and I wanted to lock in," Wisdom said. "I feel like our car had good speed. There were stretches of the race where Cannon had the best car but I thought we had stretched where we did too, and that’s what you want to see in your qualifier even though I didn’t lock in."
For his part, it was a meaningful win for McIntosh, even if it’s something he has accomplished on Monday three of the past four years. With his tire completely flat, he parked his car into the cushion in Turn 2 during the cool down lap.
It wasn’t by design, but it was right in front of the Front Row Rowdies, and they were losing their minds so McIntosh jumped out of his car and celebrated with them. Having grown up in Oklahoma and attending this race his whole life, celebrating with the biggest fanatics of them all was a really big deal.
"I didn’t mean to kill the car, but when you hit the curb with a flat right rear, it’s going to lock it up and throw the nose in the air and kill it," McIntosh said. "Fortunately, it didn’t hurt anyone else but then I look up and it’s in front of the Rowdy Section.
"They’re going insane so let’s celebrate. That was really cool. I’ve never sat there and celebrated with them. It was pretty special because I grew up watching the Rowdies every year until I could race, so to celebrate with them was really cool."
Of note, Jerry Coons Jr. was also very good but not as lucky, breaking a right rear wheel nut came loose and eliminated him from a chance at a Monday podium for the second year in a row.
"Two years in a row, and a second lock up cost us a chance at a top two," Coons said. "I don’t know that we were going to get top two tonight but its just disappointing to have this fast of a car two years in a row and not lock in or give ourselves a great shot at locking ourselves in.
"It’s great to have a good car, and that’s half the battle here, but it stings a little bit when this happens. And I’m not even sure why. They’re looking at the car now but I know it was tight before the race. I saw them tighten it so we’re still kind of processing it."
Again, it’s good to be good but even better to be lucky and good, for both the winner and a could have been podium finisher on Monday night at the Tulsa Expo Center.
A Feature (30 Laps): 1. 08-Cannon McIntosh; 2. 17W-Shane Golobic; 3. 89-Chris Windom; 4. 32T-Trey Marcham; 5. 5-Chase Briscoe; 6. 5G-Gavan Boschele; 7. 67-Ryan Timms; 8. 67X-Kyle Spence; 9. 25-Jacob Denney; 10. 50-Daniel Adler; 11. 40S-Steven Snyder Jr; 12. 73B-Tyler Edwards; 13. 81-Tanner Holmes; 14. 03-Ayrton Gennetten; 15. 41X-Howard Moore; 16. 2H-Nick Hoffman; 17. 8-Alex Sewell; 18. 0H-Cap Henry; 19. 97K-Tom Harris; 20. 69P-Joey Paxson; 21. 22-Sean McClelland; 22. (DNF) 85-Jerry Coons Jr; 23. (DNF) 7T-TJ Smith; 24. (DNF) 32-Gary Taylor
Lap Leader(s): Cannon McIntosh 1-30
Hard Charger: Daniel Adler +12