NASCAR Young Gun Christopher Bell made history this weekend at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, presented by General Tire. Despite fellow NASCAR veteran Kyle Larson starting on the pole and leading the A Main feature race with 13 laps, remaining Bell earned back-to-back victories at the famed Super Bowl of dirt track midget racing.
Handing Keith Kunz his seventh win as a car owner, and fourth consecutive since 2015, the Tulsa native’s weekend included three preliminary night wins and a Saturday night podium sweep.
Before earning his second victory at the historic Tulsa Expo Raceway, Bell chased Larson for the first 10 laps before charging to the lead off the fourth turn on Lap 11. After the caution flag waved on Lap 17, Larson once again regained the lead and the two leaders pulled away from the field and began a high-speed chess match, with Larson continuing to show his younger predecessor the way.
While Larson seemed the logical candidate for the 2018 Chili Bowl win, his dominating performance began to disappear as the laps wound down, giving Bell a chance to regain the lead. On Lap 41 the reason behind Larson’s loss of speed became clear after the engine in his iRacing No. 01 gave out, which ultimately led the once race leader to watch his hopes for a win disappear.
With a straightaway advantage and slower cars around, Bell was pursed by Rico Abreu, but the traffic was not enough to slow Bell’s No. 71w enough for Rico to challenge as the checkered flag fell, giving the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and future XFINITY Series star the illustrious 32nd Annual Chili Bowl win by 3.162 seconds.
“It’s special to win the Chili Bowl. With over 300-something cars, it’s always going to be special,” said Bell. “Now to do so back-to-back – I am just speechless, although I am a bit bummed for Kyle.”
Saturday’s round of Alphabet Soup began with double N-Features. The biggest mover through the soup was Shane Stewart, who advanced from L-Feature to I-Feature competition. 11 more drivers saw action in at least three features with another 91 in at least two features.
Both Bell and Larson will have another chance to battle it out at the 33rd Annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, presented by General Tire, January 14-19, 2019. Information on next year’s event will be released in the next few weeks.
For continued updates, check out ChiliBowl.com.