Hoosier Racer Throttles Chili Bowl Foes in Bass Pro Shops Qualifier
Indiana's Shane Cottle tracked down his first Chili Bowl "A" Main win by wiring the field in Thursday night's Bass Pro Shops Qualifying event at Tulsa Expo Raceway's 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
"The track had a nice little cushion that you could kinda lean on, it was nice," Cottle commented afterward. "If you didn't hit it right it would pick the front end up and set it over. I did that on the last lap, kinda got the last lap jitters I think. Anytime you can win something here, it's big."
To which Yeley jokingly commented, "He (Cottle) had a half straightaway or straightaway lead most of the way, he had nothing to worry about."
Cottle gunned into the lead from the front row outside at the drop of the green flag and rode the rim to perfection all 25 laps to snare the victory with young shoe Justin Allgaier chasing him underneath the checkered flag.
NASCAR rep J.J. Yeley shook off the effects of a wild heat race flip to ultimately snare third in the Bass Pro Shops feature after picking off eight positions in both his Last Chance and Qualifying races.
Jason Leffler prevailed in a wild battle of slidejobs with 2005 Chili Bowl champ Tracy Hines to snare the fourth and final lock-in position to Saturday night's 50-lap O'Reilly Chili Bowl Nationals championship feature.
After racing from fifth to second in his heat race and then from fourth to win his qualifying race, Cottle had earned the outside front row starting position for the feature alongside Leffler, who had raced his way to the pole position by way of an eighth-to-second heat race charge then a sixth-to-first qualifying race win.
The initial attempt to start the Bass Pro Shops feature event was waved off when second row inside starter and USAC Sprint Car champion Josh Wise tangled with Australian Mark Brown in turn four.
The second start was successful, with Cottle using the cushion to race into the lead ahead of Leffler, Allgaier and Hines. While Cottle slipped away from the field, the action behind him was intense with Allgaier battling into second by the fourth round with seventh-starter Yeley entering the multi-car mix for the runner-up slot as well.
When the caution flew on the seventh lap for Jesse Hockett's turn two tumble, Cottle led the way in front of Allgaier, Yeley, Leffler and Hines.
Cottle was in his own league on this night, weathering another pair of small cautions and racing to victory lane virtually unchallenged aboard the Pace Brothers Racing Chevy-powered No. 44c Beast.
Allgaier, who made the cut for his first O'Reilly Chili Bowl championship feature last year, locked himself in with a strong second place drive aboard Ebby Bergfield's
Ethanol/Auto Xpres No. 86 Spike entry on a borrowed powerplant.
"I'm not sure if the motor problems are resolved or not, we got a little hot during the feature and it was smoking when I pulled in so that's probably not a good sign," Allgaier explained. "We blew our motor up on the dyno last week and this is a rental motor, kind of a last minute deal so we'll see where things go from here and hopefully it didn't hurt it too bad."
Haunted by qualifying night gremlins in past years, Yeley's night started off inauspiciously when he flipped Andy Bondio's Barnes-powered Kenny's Components No. 47x entry while leading his heat race. Yeley rebounded to charge from ninth to first in a Last Chance Race and then from eleventh to third in his Qualifying Race to rack up enough passing and finishing points to earn a starting berth in the Bass Pro Shops Qualifying main event.
Yeley cracked the top five in the early rounds and held down the show position over the final 19 laps to secure a spot in the Oklahoma Dodge Dealers Championship Saturday headliner.
Shane Cottle is on the throttle en route to winning Thursday night's Bass Pro Shops Qualifying feature event at the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
Indiana's Shane Cottle enjoys victory lane after winning Thursday night's 25-lap Bass Pro Shops Qualifying feature event at Tulsa Expo Raceway's 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
Past O'Reilly Chili Bowl Nationals champions Tracy Hines (21) and Jason Leffler (71J) engaged in a spirited duel for the fourth and final Oklahoma Dodge Dealers Championship Feature event lock-in position in Thursday night's Bass Pro Shops Qualifying feature at the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, with Leffler earning the upper hand as the checkered flag flew.
Asked if his bad luck at the Chili Bowl was behind him, Yeley commented, "Probably not, but at this point it doesn't really matter because if I have some problems in the "A" Main on Saturday I'm probably done anyway. I've used up a pretty good arsenal of all the spare parts at Bondio Fabrications so Kruseman better take it easy tomorrow because I don't think there's anything left."
Leffler and Hines offered up some of the most entertaining action of the night, trading slidejobs repeatedly before Leffler finally took the critical fourth position aboard his own Esslinger-powered Team ASE/Kaeding Performance No. 71J Stealth.
Hines rounded out the top five, with Ryan Durst, Tyler Brown, Jonathan Hendrick, Steve Buckwalter and Garrett Hansen completing the top ten.
Heat race victories for Thursday's 74-car Bass Pro
Shops Qualifying event were topped by Keith Rauch, Mark Brown, Robby Flock, Coleman Gulick, Hockett, Kevin Swindell, Brandon Waelti, Durst, Adam Trimble and Wise.
Billy Pauch, Jr., Yeley, Hendrick and Patrick Bruns topped the 8-lap Last Chance races, with Cottle, Leffler, Allgaier and Hines victorious in the 10-lap Qualifiers.
Hansen won the first 15-lap "B" Main with Mike Goodman topping the second "B" Main. Goodman, last year's Chili Bowl Rookie of the Year, was caught up in Hockett's lap seven "A" Main flip and forced pitside.
In addition to Yeley, Geoff Dodge and Garry Lee Maier both took wild rides in heat race action. Sam Hafertepe, Jr., Larry Cole and Glenn Styres each got upside down during the fourth Last Chance race. There were no injuries.
The third Qualifying Race featured a pair of the most spectacular flips in Chili Bowl history. On the opening lap, Pennsylvania's Ray Bull climbed Brandon Waelti's right rear tire and launched into a wild series of flips into the work area outside turn three. While Bull walked away unharmed, his Midget was badly battered.
Then, as the checkered flag flew on the third Qualifier, Chad Boat and Garrett Hansen got together at the stripe and collected seventh-runner Wally Pankratz. Pankratz flipped violently and after several moments, emerged from his car with the aide of a backboard. The salty veteran recovered quickly however, receiving clearance from medical personnel and returned for "B" Main action only to have his mount suffer from lingering effects after a few laps.
Defending Chili Bowl champ Tim McCreadie battled misfortune all evening, ultimately credited with 16th in the second "B" Main and forced pitside with a flat tire.
The 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals continues with Friday night's Oklahoma Dodge Dealers Qualifying event, with heat races slated to go green at 6:15 p.m.