TULSA, Okla. — With three preliminary nights complete, one last trio of guaranteed spots remains available for the 31st annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, and three former Chili Bowl champions lead the list of entries for Friday’s Vacuworx Qualifying Night program.
Two-time Chili Bowl winner Cory Kruseman (2000, 2004) returns for yet another shot at his third Golden Driller behind the wheel of his own No. 21K Lucas Oil/Kruseman Racing Spike-Chevrolet.
Kruseman’s best finish since his last win was a runner-up effort in 2005, but he hasn’t made the championship A-Main the last three years.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series regular Tim McCreadie rides into the Tulsa Expo Center hoping to make his seventh-career finale start and fourth in the last five years. Driving the No. 47 entry for Andy Bondio, McCreadie stunned the Sooner State to win the 2006 Chili Bowl with car owner Steve Smith.
And 2008 Chili Bowl champion Damion Gardner is back in a familiar ride as well, wheeling the Bob East-tuned No. 71G Great Clips Beast-Chevrolet for Klatt Motorsports as he seeks his second-career Golden Driller.
The five-time USAC/CRA sprint car champion has made seven of the last nine championship A-Features and eight overall. His best finish since the win was a third-place effort two years ago.
Among the non-winners, reigning USAC National Midget Series champion and two-time National Midget Driver of the Year Tanner Thorson heads the always-potent Keith Kunz stable, driving the No. 67 JBL Audio Bullet-Toyota.
Thorson’s best career finish in the Chili Bowl championship main is a fourth, earned in 2015, and he hopes to make his third finale start in three years this weekend.
California’s Holly Shelton joins Thorson in the KKM camp, piloting the No. 67K Black & Decker Bullet-Toyota as she makes her Chili Bowl debut.
USAC Triple Crown champion and NASCAR star J.J. Yeley returns to Tulsa hoping to make his ninth-career finale appearance and first since 2015.
Driving the No. 1ST McKinnie/Triple J Motorsports Boss-Toyota, Yeley’s career-best at the Chili Bowl was a runner-up effort in 2007.
Three-time Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour champion Tim Crawley represents the Razorback State, as the Benton, Ark. native wheels the No. 4J John James Racing Twister-Esslinger. Crawley has never made the 55-lap finale.
All-time USAC National Sprint Car Series wins leader Dave Darland, ‘The People’s Champion’, will drive the No. 11AG Gray Auto/Bolted Spine Design Spike-Stanton Toyota as he seeks his 16th finale appearance.
Two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Ricky Stenhouse enters Friday’s program hoping to do what his Clauson-Marshall Racing teammate, Tyler Courtney, did on Tuesday by winning his first preliminary night feature.
Stenhouse will drive the No. 17BC CMR/Matt Wood Racing Spike-Stanton Mopar in an effort to improve on his 16th-place finish from last year’s Chili Bowl finale.
Former World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion and Jason Leffler Memorial race winner Daryn Pittman will pilot the No. 21 Zarounian Motorsports Spike-Esslinger and has made six prior finale appearances, including the last three-in-a-row.
And 2016 Belleville Midget Nationals winner Chad Boat hunts his second-career preliminary night victory in the No. 84X K&C Drywall/Tucker-Boat Motorsports CBI-Toyota. Boat has made four of the last seven Chili Bowl finales.
Click here to view the complete Friday entry list.