TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 9, 2023) – Kaden Honeycutt will embark on one of the more unique challenges of his driving career this week when he makes his debut at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, Jan. 9-14.
The 37th annual indoor racing classic, held inside the SageNet Center in Tulsa, Okla., will see the 19-year-old native of Willow Park, Texas, make his midget debut in the event colloquially billed as the “Super Bowl” of the discipline.
“I guess you’d compare it to going out and trying to make the Super Bowl in your first game in the NFL,” Honeycutt joked going into the week. “It’s really cool, though. Racing in the Chili Bowl is something that I’ve dreamed of doing for years; I’ve just never had the opportunity to do so until now. It’s a long week and it won’t be easy, but that’s the fun and the challenge of an event like this and hopefully, we can go out, be competitive as the week goes on, and see where we end up in the alphabet soup on Saturday.”
Honeycutt will drive the No. 80s Spike Chassis midget, powered by a Toyota engine, for Josh Hawkins Racing as part of a five-car Chili Bowl effort for Hawkins – a fellow Texan Honeycutt connected with through Kody Jett and Jett Motorsports, the late model team he drove several races for in 2022.
“Kody helped get me in touch with Josh and I really feel like we’ve hit it off well,” noted Honeycutt. “He’s helped me get comfortable in the car getting ready and knows what he needs out of it in order to help me be successful, I feel like, throughout the week. It’s a good situation for my first time racing in the event and we’ll just use his knowledge to go out and see what we can do each time on the track.”
The Chili Bowl is annually one of the most prestigious dirt-track events held in the United States, averaging 300 entries or more over the course of six days on a temporary, sixth-mile dirt oval built inside the sprawling SageNet Center.
Though Honeycutt has never raced at the Chili Bowl or in a midget, he does have plenty of dirt racing experience in his background. His career started in dirt modifieds in his home state of Texas and Honeycutt feels like that experience will help him get up to speed quickly through the week.
“It’s a totally different car, but I feel like some of the skills that you use carry over,” Honeycutt tipped of his past race craft on dirt. “A lot of it comes down to car control and just being smooth each lap; that’s something I’ve learned from the testing that we’ve done going into this. It’s a lot about momentum and if you make a mistake in the midget, it’s amplified, and it takes you several laps to get back into a rhythm … which is something you really don’t have the luxury of at the Chili Bowl because there’s so little track time to get everything right. You have a couple of laps in “Hot Laps”, a heat race, and a qualifier, and if you don’t nail it, you can get buried on your qualifying night very quickly.
“If we can get our feet underneath us quickly during our qualifying night, I feel like we’ll be OK, but we’ll have our work cut out for us with the field that we’re racing against, for sure.”
Honeycutt will attempt to make his way into the Chili Bowl feature field during Wednesday’s third of five qualifying night programs, arguably the most stacked lineup of the five preliminary programs.
He’ll be battling against past event champions like five-time winner Sammy Swindell and two-time winner Rico Abreu as he hopes to secure one of two guaranteed starting spots in the finale field.
Though Honeycutt comes in with NASCAR experience on his resume, having made nine Craftsman Truck Series starts last season for On Point Motorsports, he’s not necessarily one of the “established” stock car names in the Chili Bowl field.
Where veterans like Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell – both of whom are not competing in this year’s event – have won the Chili Bowl in the past, Honeycutt will be learning on the fly as he tries to make a splash in his first appearance.
“Some people might think that I’d come in feeling pressure at a race like this because I’ve competed at the NASCAR level, but I really don’t see it that way. I put pressure on myself to go out and perform, but that’s just the type of competitor I am,” Honeycutt explained. “I want to go out and compete at a high level no matter what type of car I’m driving or how tough the competition is. I feel like if you’re not pushing yourself to do that, then you’re not going to the racetrack with the right mindset.
“We know this week is going to be tough, and we’re not going out with unrealistic expectations, but I don’t think it’s out of reach for us to think we can work our way into the feature field for Saturday night and that’s what our goal is going in,” he added. “We’ll just take it one step at a time and see where we land, but I’m excited about everything we’ll experience this week and thankful for the opportunity.”
Honeycutt would like to thank Josh Hawkins Racing, Jett Concrete, Spike Chassis, Toyota Racing Development, Real Steel, Brad’s Transmission and Race Face Brand Development for supporting his Chili Bowl efforts this week.
For more information on Kaden Honeycutt, visit www.kadenhoneycuttracing.com.
-Race Face Brand Development Press Release