The Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma draws drivers from all across the world to compete head to head against one another in one of the biggest races in the country. The fast and furious Midgets make for some sensational racing, which makes it an exciting event for drivers and fans alike. One driver who is always excited to compete at the Chili Bowl is NASCAR standout Justin Allgaier.
“The fact that you can go somewhere that has 350 to 400 people of the best racers in the world, and not just of one discipline. Yes, we’re all driving Midgets at the Chili Bowl but you’ve got drag racers, NASCAR racers, road racers, open wheel drivers, dirt late model guys. There’s not a set ‘hey, you have to be an x, y or z driver’ to go there,” Allgaier told Speed51.com. “I think from my standpoint that’s probably the coolest part, is that you’re able to go and race against guys that you don’t normally get to race against on a regular basis and put your skills against theirs. I’m as excited about going to the Chili Bowl as I am about going to Daytona.”
Allgaier has three starts in the Chili Bowl’s A-Main on Saturday night, his best run coming in 2007 finishing behind Tony Stewart and JJ Yeley. His resume also boasts an ARCA Racing Series championship in 2008, the 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series regular season championship, and 10 XFINITY Series victories, five of which occurred last season, giving him a wave of momentum coming into 2019.
This year, Allgaier’s week will start on Thursday for his preliminary night. Although some say going earlier in the week gives them an advantage, Allgaier says that going later in the week works best for him.
“Last year I ran on Tuesday. It drove me nuts,” Allgaier said. “I’ve pretty much run Thursday night my entire Chili Bowl career and I tried to switch it up last year just to see, you know, track condition wise, kinda get a little different group of guys that you’re gonna race against. I felt like I wasn’t where I needed to be at when I ran Tuesday night, I just didn’t like it.
“That all being said, now going back to Thursday night I feel like it breaks up the week a little. You’re not the first night, you get some time to digest practice day and understand where you’re at mentally and physically. You can work on your car, do whatever you need to do, especially if you have problems. But you’re not Friday, so if something were to happen on your race night, you still have a day where you can get parts or get something fixed up so you can race on Saturday night, you still have that opportunity. So for me, that was always the reason why Thursday was always the best day.”
The 32-year old Illinois native will be making his annual return to the Chili Bowl after an incident took him out of the B-Main a season ago. Although he didn’t qualify, good runs in the past have his confidence high this year.
“I think if we do things the way that we have the last couple of years, we will be good,” Allgaier explained. “We got crashed in the B-Main last year on Saturday night and got damage to the car that kept us from being able to compete, but we were in position to make the A-Main. The last couple of years we’ve been in position to where we easily had a car that was capable of making the A-Main or we made the A-Main. So from that regard, the ultimate goal really is go down there and put the thing in the show.
“I know we’ve got a car that’s capable of doing it, I’ve got a team that’s smart enough to put the car together and get the setup to where I want it that we can make the show. We have all of the tools. The definition of luck, even though I don’t believe in luck, is when opportunity meets preparation and I feel like we will be prepared if that opportunity comes in front of us.”
Story by: Evan Canfield, Speed51.com Northeast Corespondent – Twitter: @ecanfield17
Photo credit: Speed51.com / Evan Canfield