For many drivers, this week’s Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout is a tune-up for the upcoming Chili Bowl Nationals.
Dec 28, 2021 by FloRacing Staff
There’s no home field advantage when it comes to the Tulsa Expo Raceway.
As a temporary track which is rebuilt each winter, the best experience one can garner inside the SageNet Center is more and more laps. That’s exactly what this week’s Tulsa Shootout supplies for many of the top Chili Bowl stars.
47 drivers in this week’s field of 1,700+ entries at the “Mecca of Micros” are expected to return in two weeks to chase the Golden Driller at the Chili Bowl Nationals.Live Now, Dec 29-Jan 12022 Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout
Headlining that list is 12 former Tulsa Shootout champions who have parlayed their micro success into midget stardom inside the Expo.
“Going there and running the Micros is huge for me,” said three-time Chili Bowl champion, Christopher Bell. “It’s a good opportunity to re-learn the track layout and figure out how the berm effects the cars. The track construction is very similar each year, but the track still develops different little nuances each time it’s built.”
It’s a fact that really hit the limelight during Kyle Larson’s mega 2021 season: all seat time proves valuable.
The two-time Chili Bowl champion admitted he didn’t feel as strong entering last year’s Chili Bowl without any off-season racing to rely on. He proved it this year just being behind the wheel and putting yourself in situations will pay off later down the line, especially when it comes to a unique venue such as Tulsa.
So, for certain drivers at the Shootout, it’s a chance to chase four extra Golden Drillers, but also dial yourself in for the big one in January.
Bell and Bacon headline the group and share the rare distinction of racing both events for the same team. Bell is reunited with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, who he won three Chili Bowl titles with, and Bacon is still with longtime car owner TKH Motorsports, who he has two Tulsa Shootout wins with.
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VIDEO: Racing in the Tulsa Shootout is advantageous for racers like Christopher Bell.
A trio of young stars including Ryan Timms (15), Brent Crews (13), and Gavan Boschele (13) will make crucial laps this week ahead of their Chili Bowl debuts in two weeks. All three are running quadruple duty in the Shootout with Timms & Crews paired with CB Industries and Boschele at KKM come Chili Bowl time.
There is also a legion of Oklahomans doing the double such as Jason McDougal, Jonathan Beason, Cannon McIntosh, Frank Flud, Trey Marcham and Blake Hahn. All of them have experienced the Golden Driller glory at Shootout and have thousands of laps in that building to rely on.
Several USAC stars like Tanner Thorson (driving for Scott Sawyer), Kevin Thomas Jr. (driving for Jon Farrell & Kevin Reed), and Logan Seavey (driving for Ten-J) are venturing out of their comfort zone to hit the Expo clay prior to being serious treats at the Chili Bowl.
A handful of other Tulsa Shootout champions will return with hopes of adding to their legacy ahead of Chili Bowl runs with some of the best teams in the building. That list includes Mitchel Moles (Matt Wood Racing), Alex Bright (Reinbold-Underwood), Gary Taylor (Brian Dunlap), Joe B. Miller (Lewis), and Michael Faccinto (CB Industries).
Beyond all those names, a laundry list of potential superstars will look to make their mark this week as the “Mecca of Micros” welcomes a record-breaking 1,700+ entries in six classes.
The 37th running of the Lucas Oil Tulsa Shootout begins Wednesday, December 29 with three days of preliminary action setting the stage for main events on Saturday, January 1. All four days of racing will be streamed live exclusively on FloRacing.
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