Cannon McIntosh first burst onto the Midget scene in March 2019 after winning his first-career USAC National Midget race with his family team over a stout field in the Shamrock Classic. Nearly a year after that night at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, the 17-year-old let the world know he’s a star in the making after winning his prelim night and finishing third in the 34th Annual Chili Bowl Nationals just 19 miles from his home in Bixby, Oklahoma.
It was the second attempt for McIntosh in the biggest event in all of Midget racing and first with the powerhouse team Keith Kunz Motorsports, immediately thrusting himself as a top contender by winning Monday night’s preliminary A-Main. He then started eighth in Saturday night’s 55-lap A-Main and made a second-half charge toward the front, dueling with three-time race winner Christopher Bell before ultimately taking third.
McIntosh joined Speed51’s “The Bullring” talk show on Monday morning to talk about his breakthrough Chili Bowl Nationals run. Having won a Driller in the Tulsa Shootout in 2014, McIntosh was admittedly still a bit nervous going into his first Chili Bowl A-Main.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking, just being able to make the field for the feature for the first time in the Chili Bowl,” McIntosh told Speed51.com’s The Bullring. “Once I got sat in the car and got comfortable before the feature, it felt like I had been there before. I felt like I dealt with the nerves pretty well. I got locked in and got my mind focused for the feature.”
After strong runs in the Turkey Night Grand Prix and Gateway Dirt Nationals with Dave Mac Motorsports, it was announced he will be joining Keith Kunz Motorsports, starting with the Chili Bowl. McIntosh had big shoes to fill with the departures of NASCAR stars Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell. He credited his team and two-time race winner Rico Abreu for the quick acclimation to the new team.
“Coming into that week, I knew I had some shoes to fill and being in a Keith Kunz car. I knew there would be some pressure,” he said. “I didn’t think we would come in and podium at the Chili Bowl at all, I just wanted to be able to make the main and be somewhat of a contender. Those guys were just easy to work with and they gave me a great car. I had a good time talking to some of the guys, Rico and Jay Drake, they were really good teachers for me getting that car ready. Keith made it really easy for me getting in there and doing my own thing and racing how I like driving. I think me and Keith link pretty well together. It’s a really good opportunity and I’m really thankful to be able to do it.”
McIntosh is scheduled to compete with Kunz once again at Bubba Raceway Park for the Winter Dirt Games to kick off the 2020 USAC National Midget season, but his schedule with the team from there remains unclear. With that being said, he believes his career run at an event that’s played a major part in his life will give his career the jumpstart it needs.
“I knew running third did a lot of things for me and hopefully my career in the future. I just think we couldn’t have done anything better. I feel like that was the best we could’ve done and I was the youngest to podium at the Chili Bowl by a year and a few months, which is pretty cool. I think Bell and Larson, the first time they podiumed was 19 or so years old, so I kind of think I’m ahead of my time. It’s going to be cool to see what the future holds.
“I knew it was special from the get-go because I grew up going to the building year after year watching the Chili Bowl. I haven’t missed a Chili Bowl for as long as I remember,” he added. “It’s just special because I grew up watching Larson, Bell, Rico, Swindell father and son (Sammy and Kevin), so I’ve seen everything that there’s to be seen in the past decade.”
Those who missed McIntosh’s appearance on The Bullring can watch the full interview now by visiting www.speed51.com/thebullring.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51/Kyler Hope