Setting the Stage for Driller Day at the Chili Bowl Nationals

Get caught up on the week of racing at Tulsa before more than 300 drivers race for the Golden Driller on Saturday.

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After a week of racing at the Tulsa Expo Raceway, it is finally Driller Day at the 2024 Chili Bowl Nationals. Five qualifying nights with 365 drivers signing in have provided plenty of excitement in their own right, but Saturday is the day where those drivers will fight for their chance to go down in racing history as a Chili Bowl winner.

Here is a summary of what happened over the course of the week in Tulsa and what to expect on Saturday.

Monday, January 8

Taking the lead on the 16th lap, Tanner Carrick picked up his second career win on Monday’s qualifying night to ensure his spot in Saturday’s A-Main. Shane Golobic won a hard-fought battle for second to take the other transfer spot into Saturday’s big show.

Chase Briscoe finished fourth in Monday’s A-Main, ensuring him a spot in one of two B-Main qualifiers on Saturday. From there, he’ll look to race his way into the 55-lap main event. If he can do so, it will be the second time in his career that the NASCAR Cup Series driver for Stewart-Haas Racing has made the Chili Bowl A-Main.

Along with the first night of preliminary racing, Cumming Qualifying Night also featured the O’Reilly Auto Parts Invitational Race of Champions. Logan Seavey, last year’s Chili Bowl Nationals winner, took the victory in the 25-lap exhibition against a 20-car field.

Tuesday, January 9

Night two of Chili Bowl Nationals qualifying belonged to Buddy Kofoid. Kofoid led all 30 laps of Tuesday’s A-Main to pick up the win in his Keith Kunz Motorsports entry. Hank Davis, a preliminary night winner one year ago, finished second.

Kofoid was strong all night long, driving from seventh to first in his heat race and from sixth to first in his Qualifier to earn the pole for the A-Main.

Wednesday, January 10

Corey Day led the way on York Plumbing Qualifying Night, taking the win in the Willie Kahne-owned No. 41. Jake Swanson, driving for Alex Bowman Racing, finished second to secure his spot in Saturday’s A-Main.

Day took the lead from Swanson on the first lap of Wednesday’s A-Main and led the rest of the way to pick up the victory.

Thursday, January 11

Perhaps the biggest headline going into Thursday’s qualifying night was the surprise return of Kyle Larson after a year away from the Chili Bowl Nationals. The major wrinkle in his return is a commitment to compete in the Wild West Shootout in Vado, New Mexico, meaning he needed to perform well on Thursday night to give himself the best shot to be able to arrive in Tulsa in time to race on Saturday.

On the track, Spencer Bayston grabbed the headlines, as the 2023 Race of Champions winner scored his first career prelim night victory ahead of 2022 Chili Bowl winner Tanner Thorson. Bayston drove from ninth to first and his heat race and finished third in his qualifier, leading every lap from the pole in the A-Main.

As for Larson, a flip in his heat relegated him to a C-Main. While he won his C Feature 2 and charged from 11th to second in B Feature 2, another flip on lap 24 netted him a last place finish in the A-Main.

Another recognizable NASCAR name, J.J. Yeley, ran into trouble of his own with a couple of incidents over the evening before finishing ninth in B Feature 2. He is scheduled to line up fifth in G Feature 2.

Friday, January 12

Friday’s preliminary proved to be very exciting, with five different drivers fighting for the two coveted Saturday A-Main transfer spots over the final 15 laps. Logan Seavey passed Ryan Timms coming to the white flag to take the win, while Timms held on for second.

Justin Grant was in position to battle for one of the two transfer spots, but flipped on the front stretch from the third position with five laps to go. Just like that, Grant went from a spot in the B-Main with a chance to snag second to a 13th-place starting spot in D Feature 2.

2023 Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. made Friday’s A-Main, but crashed in the opening laps to finish 23rd. He will start sixth in E Feature 1 on Saturday.

Josh Bilicki had a wild flip in his heat race and finished fourth in Friday's D Feature 1. He lines up fifth in Saturday's O Feature 1.

Now What?

Through each of the qualifying nights, “passing points” during the heats and qualifiers are vital for earning a spot in the A-Main, giving yourself the past chance to score a top-two finish and guarantee a starting spot in Saturday’s championship A-Main.

Once Saturday arrives, however, the objective is simple if you haven’t locked into the A-Main – get into a transfer position and keep your night alive. The “alphabet soup” begins early Saturday morning, and will carry on until a field of 24 drivers has been determined for the main event following a pair of B-Mains.

The 10 drivers who are already locked into the A-Main will take part in the Pole Dash on Saturday to determine the first five rows of the lineup. Positions 11 through 24 will go to the top seven finishers in each of the two B-Mains.

For full lineups as they stand, from the P-features to start Saturday morning all the way through the Pole Dash, click here.

Drivers Qualified for Saturday’s A-Main

Spencer Bayston
Tanner Carrick
Hank Davis
Corey Day
Shane Golobic
Buddy Kofoid
Logan Seavey
Jake Swanson
Tanner Thorson
Ryan Timms

-Photo credit: Ryan Nuttleman

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