Larson Continues Tuesday Dominance on Chili Bowl Night Two

Drivers who take part in the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions (VIROC) each year tend to avoid competing on the Tuesday preliminary night due to the extra strain the invitational causes on equipment and the quick turnaround for that night’s A-Main.  However, that hasn’t stopped Kyle Larson over the years.


“Yung Money” kicked off his Chili Bowl Nationals title defense off in style, winning the Tuesday night preliminary A-Main for the fourth year in a row and the seventh time in the last 10 years.  Larson prevailed in a spirited battle with Shane Golobic and Thomas Meseraull early, then held off Meseraull during a green-white checkered finish.


“It’s cool to get the win.  Thomas was really putting the pressure on me there the last couple laps,” Larson said on the FloRacing Broadcast.  “I just needed to not miss my marks and I knew he’d have to move me to get by.


“I caught traffic and it was taking rubber, so it was taking rubber.  I just had to be patient to not get off the bottom, not do anything irresponsible and give away the race.  It’s awesome to get another prelim win and lock ourselves in, and get a good starting spot for Saturday.”


After the top three traded slide jobs in the opening ten laps of the A-Main, the track was left with one groove and the field was forced to catfish on the bottom for the second half.  The track surface left Larson perplexed going into Saturday’s main event.


“It just got to one lane really early, I think that’s only the second time I’ve ever seen this place take rubber.  They’ll get it right the rest of the week and we’ll put on some racing.  The track had more banking around the bottom than it does up top, as you get about halfway up the track it really flattens out.  It makes the bottom have too much momentum and the top get too thick of a curb.”


Meseraull caught a huge break on the original white flag lap that helped him finish runner-up Tuesday night.  He sat in third when then-second place driver Shane Golobic made contact with a lapped car and brought out the yellow.  Golobic’s mistake relegated him to a 22nd place finish and instead of locking himself into Saturday’s main event, he will now have to come from the E-Main.


Golobic’s misfortune came to the benefit of Meseraull, who also finished second in Thursday’s preliminary A-Main one year ago.  Normally known around the state of Indiana for ripping the top, he had to go outside his comfort zone to contend for the win.


“I told my guys at the beginning of the night before pushing out, I don’t know what I can do if we have to go to the bottom because I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, I live or die by the top.  That’s T-Mez, that’s how I roll,” said Meseraull.  “I just don’t have much fun rolling around the bottom but I saw it was dark, you have to race the racetrack.  I stayed up there as long as I could and then got into the train.


“I picked up a lucky break there at the end.  I was running third, was going to run third on the white flag lap.  I don’t know what Golobic was thinking shoving it underneath a car.  It wouldn’t have mattered if he got out of line, I wouldn’t have passed him anyways.”


Meseraull had a shot at Larson during the final green-white-checkered, but would come up short after failed attempts to get inside.  He gave a classic “T-Mez” interview in victory lane after the runner-up effort.


“I wanted to let him know that I was there.  I’m here to stay people, you ain’t running T-Mez off.  It don’t matter if I come back here next year in a D2 Midget, I’m coming and I’m driving the thing forward,” he joked. “ He’s so fun to watch, one of my favorites.  I just don’t like racing against him because he’s good and he takes money out of my pocket.”


Tuesday night also saw the VIROC, a 25-lap invitational consisting of 2020 series champions, 2020 preliminary night A-Main winners and top-three finishers from the previous five Chili Bowl Saturday night A-Mains.  Three-time Chili Bowl Nationals champion Christopher Bell won the VIROC in dominating fashion for the second year in a row, guaranteeing himself a starting spot in the main event Saturday night.


“This place is awesome.  I haven’t been able to stand in victory lane here in a while,” Bell said.  “It felt really good but it also felt good last year and we got beat at the end.  We just have to make sure we stay on top of it, stay with the racetrack.”


Wednesday night will feature Circle City Raceway Qualifying Night at the Chili Bowl, with perhaps the most loaded field out of the five preliminary nights.  Former Chili Bowl champions Rico Abreu and Sammy Swindell headline a stout group of drivers that include POWRi champion Jake Neuman, World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Brad Sweet, USAC frontrunner Kevin Thomas Jr and 2017 prelim night A-Main winner Travis Berryhill.  NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott and former Truck Series champion Brett Moffit make their Chili Bowl debuts, while Ryan Newman and IndyCar star Santino Ferrucci will also be in action.


-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Brandon Bauman


Chili Bowl Nationals – Warren CAT Qualifying Night Results:


Fatheadz Heat Races: Top 40 in passing points advance to Qualifiers.


Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 2MD-Carson Kvapil[2]; 2. 57D-Aiden Purdue[1]; 3. 9JR-Derek Hagar[4]; 4. 51T-Eddie Tafoya Jr[5]; 5. 08K-Michael Faccinto[7]; 6. 56D-Mitchell Davis[8]; 7. 17K-Patrick Kop[6]; 8. (DNF) 73G-Avery Goodman[3]


Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 72-Chase Johnson[1]; 2. 17W-Shane Golobic[4]; 3. 39B-Cole Bodine[7]; 4. 75A-Bryan Stanfill[8]; 5. 3PS-Brad Wyatt[3]; 6. 10P-Dylan Postier[2]; 7. 3-Roy Larkin[6]; 8. (DNF) 4U-Jeremy Hill[5]


Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 7X-Thomas Meseraull[5]; 2. 7U-Kyle Jones[1]; 3. 19-Frank Flud[8]; 4. 79K-Kyle Simon[3]; 5. 2BX-Brett Becker[6]; 6. 51-Curtis Jones[7]; 7. 0FG-Kevin Quinn[4]; 8. B51-Johnny Brown Jr[2]


Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 5D-Zach Daum[3]; 2. 41X-Howard Moore[2]; 3. 91A-Chris Andrews[4]; 4. 68W-Danny Stratton[6]; 5. 22B-Troy Betts[5]; 6. 21B-Brenden Bright[7]; 7. 23T-Tristan Lee[1]; 8. (DNS) 68C-Corby Scherb


Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 73X-Brody Fuson[4]; 2. 55D-Nick Drake[7]; 3. 8J-Jonathan Beason[8]; 4. 81X-Dillon Welch[2]; 5. 54-Matt Westfall[1]; 6. 7W-Steve Young[3]; 7. 4F-Chad Frewaldt[5]; 8. (DNF) 2W-Tony Bruce Jr[6]


Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 98K-Tanner Carrick[6]; 2. 19Z-Hayden Reinbold[1]; 3. 15S-Dennie Gieber[3]; 4. 72W-Tye Wilke[5]; 5. 5B-Bobby Brewer[2]; 6. 72K-Chad Turner[8]; 7. (DNF) 37T-Kelby Watt[4]; 8. (DNF) 26-Cory Eliason[7]


Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 14E-Hank Davis[6]; 2. 45H-Shane Cottle[3]; 3. 9P-Daison Pursley[2]; 4. 21F-Anton Hernandez[1]; 5. 74Z-Zack Merritt[4]; 6. 22C-Charlie Crumpton[7]; 7. (DNF) 98-Ryan Padgett[5]


Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 01-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 20H-Noah Harris[2]; 3. 51H-Mike Hess[7]; 4. 31B-Kyle Beilman[3]; 5. 2R-Carson Sousa[6]; 6. 82-Toby Alfrey[1]; 7. (DNF) 2T-Tanner Allen[5]



C-Features: Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature.


C Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 22C-Charlie Crumpton[1]; 2. 2T-Tanner Allen[5]; 3. 10P-Dylan Postier[4]; 4. 23T-Tristan Lee[7]; 5. 37T-Kelby Watt[8]; 6. 5B-Bobby Brewer[2]; 7. 4U-Jeremy Hill[10]; 8. (DNF) 4F-Chad Frewaldt[6]; 9. (DNF) 17K-Patrick Kop[3]; 10. (DNF) B51-Johnny Brown Jr[9]; 11. (DNF) 72K-Chad Turner[11]


C Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 54-Matt Westfall[2]; 2. 26-Cory Eliason[8]; 3. 3PS-Brad Wyatt[1]; 4. 82-Toby Alfrey[4]; 5. 7W-Steve Young[3]; 6. 2W-Tony Bruce Jr[9]; 7. 0FG-Kevin Quinn[7]; 8. (DNF) 73G-Avery Goodman[10]; 9. (DNF) 3-Roy Larkin[5]; 10. (DNF) 68C-Corby Scherb[11]; 11. (DNF) 98-Ryan Padgett[6]



Team Toyota Qualifiers: Top 16 in combined passing points advance to the A-Feature.


Qualifier 1 (10 Laps): 1. 17W-Shane Golobic[3]; 2. 5D-Zach Daum[4]; 3. 98K-Tanner Carrick[6]; 4. 08K-Michael Faccinto[8]; 5. 41X-Howard Moore[2]; 6. 73X-Brody Fuson[5]; 7. 19Z-Hayden Reinbold[1]; 8. 15S-Dennie Gieber[7]; 9. 2R-Carson Sousa[9]; 10. 22B-Troy Betts[10]


Qualifier 2 (10 Laps): 1. 01-Kyle Larson[5]; 2. 9JR-Derek Hagar[1]; 3. 14E-Hank Davis[6]; 4. 39B-Cole Bodine[4]; 5. 72-Chase Johnson[3]; 6. 20H-Noah Harris[2]; 7. 79K-Kyle Simon[8]; 8. 74Z-Zack Merritt[10]; 9. (DNF) 81X-Dillon Welch[9]; 10. (DNF) 9P-Daison Pursley[7]


Qualifier 3 (10 Laps): 1. 7X-Thomas Meseraull[6]; 2. 57D-Aiden Purdue[2]; 3. 56D-Mitchell Davis[9]; 4. 51-Curtis Jones[10]; 5. 91A-Chris Andrews[1]; 6. 19-Frank Flud[5]; 7. 51T-Eddie Tafoya Jr[7]; 8. 51H-Mike Hess[4]; 9. 31B-Kyle Beilman[8]; 10. (DNF) 75A-Bryan Stanfill[3]


Qualifier 4 (10 Laps): 1. 8J-Jonathan Beason[5]; 2. 68W-Danny Stratton[1]; 3. 7U-Kyle Jones[2]; 4. 45H-Shane Cottle[3]; 5. 2MD-Carson Kvapil[4]; 6. 21F-Anton Hernandez[9]; 7. 55D-Nick Drake[6]; 8. 21B-Brenden Bright[10]; 9. 2BX-Brett Becker[8]; 10. 72W-Tye Wilke[7] B-Features: Top 4 advance to the A-Feature.


B Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 45H-Shane Cottle[1]; 2. 72-Chase Johnson[3]; 3. 19-Frank Flud[2]; 4. 20H-Noah Harris[5]; 5. 75A-Bryan Stanfill[9]; 6. 74Z-Zack Merritt[8]; 7. 91A-Chris Andrews[4]; 8. 10P-Dylan Postier[15]; 9. 23T-Tristan Lee[14]; 10. 72W-Tye Wilke[10]; 11. 2T-Tanner Allen[12]; 12. 51T-Eddie Tafoya Jr[6]; 13. 2BX-Brett Becker[11]; 14. 22C-Charlie Crumpton[13]; 15. (DNF) 79K-Kyle Simon[7]; 16. (DNS) 81X-Dillon Welch


B Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 2MD-Carson Kvapil[1]; 2. 21F-Anton Hernandez[4]; 3. 9P-Daison Pursley[11]; 4. 55D-Nick Drake[2]; 5. 2R-Carson Sousa[9]; 6. 41X-Howard Moore[3]; 7. 51H-Mike Hess[5]; 8. 26-Cory Eliason[14]; 9. 54-Matt Westfall[13]; 10. 3PS-Brad Wyatt[15]; 11. 15S-Dennie Gieber[7]; 12. 22B-Troy Betts[12]; 13. 21B-Brenden Bright[8]; 14. 31B-Kyle Beilman[10]; 15. 19Z-Hayden Reinbold[6]; 16. 82-Toby Alfrey[16]



Vacuworx Invitantional Race of Champions


VIROC (25 Laps): 1. 84X-Christopher Bell[6]; 2. 71K-Cannon McIntosh[4]; 3. 01-Kyle Larson[3]; 4. 5D-Zach Daum[5]; 5. 2J-Justin Grant[7]; 6. 21H-Brady Bacon[11]; 7. 08-Tanner Thorson[1]; 8. 1R-Brad Sweet[12]; 9. 21-Daryn Pittman[10]; 10. 87-Aaron Reutzel[13]; 11. (DNF) 97-Rico Abreu[8]; 12. (DNF) 3N-Jake Neuman[14]; 13. (DNF) 1S-Spencer Bayston[2]; 14. (DNF) 89-Chris Windom[9]



A-Feature: Top 2 advance to Saturday’s A-Feature.


A Feature (30 Laps): 1. 01-Kyle Larson[2]; 2. 7X-Thomas Meseraull[1]; 3. 5D-Zach Daum[7]; 4. 39B-Cole Bodine[9]; 5. 68W-Danny Stratton[13]; 6. 9JR-Derek Hagar[11]; 7. 72-Chase Johnson[19]; 8. 14E-Hank Davis[5]; 9. 9P-Daison Pursley[22]; 10. 19-Frank Flud[21]; 11. 7U-Kyle Jones[16]; 12. 55D-Nick Drake[24]; 13. 08K-Michael Faccinto[12]; 14. 8J-Jonathan Beason[3]; 15. 20H-Noah Harris[23]; 16. 21F-Anton Hernandez[20]; 17. 56D-Mitchell Davis[8]; 18. 98K-Tanner Carrick[4]; 19. 57D-Aiden Purdue[10]; 20. 45H-Shane Cottle[17]; 21. (DNF) 2MD-Carson Kvapil[18]; 22. (DNF) 17W-Shane Golobic[6]; 23. (DNF) 73X-Brody Fuson[15]; 24. (DNF) 51-Curtis Jones[14]

Lap Leader(s): Thomas Meseraull 1-10; Kyle Larson 11-30
Hard Charger: Daison Pursley +13


Larson Continues Tuesday Dominance on Chili Bowl Night Two