Bubba Altig Saves Best for Last in Tuesday Chili Bowl Pre-Qualifying Event
The 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Nationals kicked off in most spectacular fashion with Illinois racer Gary "Bubba" Altig making a dramatic pass in the final corner to win Tuesday night's Warren CAT Pre-Qualifying 25-lap feature event.
of his monumental triumph.  "He was running high almost
the whole race when I was following him and when I saw
him go to the bottom I just hauled it in there as hard as I could and hoped for the best."

While Altig topped the event for Chili Bowl rookies and relative newcomers from his 13th starting position, it was California lady racer Randi Pankratz that made a valiant effort to become the first female racer to top a Chili Bowl "A" Main.

Pankratz earned the pole position for the feature and gunned into the early lead ahead of fellow front row starter Rafe Essary.  Pankratz proceeded to lead the opening 22 circuits, fending off several challenges before slipping to fifth in the frenetic final laps.

Pankratz was first challenged by Essary, who was mounting a charge when his powerplant gave way after seven laps.  Jonathan Henry slipped around Noblitt for second at the midway point and made a run for the lead entering turn one on the 16th lap, only to climb Pankratz' right rear tire and flip into the turn two fencing.

Utilizing the topside of the ¼-mile Tulsa Expo Raceway clay oval, Altig charged from fourth on a restart with just two laps remaining to nip Jordan Noblitt for the win at the line.  Noblitt, who had just taken command on the 22nd lap, spun across the finish line after the pair made contact dicing for the point, holding onto second as a near-capacity crowd roared its approval of the initial Tuesday night event in O'Reilly Chili Bowl Nationals history.

"I came from last, but on that last restart he (Noblitt) went to the bottom and I just went high," Altig explained

Tony Roney made his way past Noblitt for second just three laps later, only to have the move negated for another Henry flip.  Henry was done for the night after the turn four endo.

With just seven laps remaining, Pankratz led the way in front of Noblitt and Roney with Altig mired back in ninth after a cone violation earlier in the race that had sent him to the tail of the field.

"I hit the cone, I was running I think tenth and had to go all the way back to 24th," Altig commented of his earlier miscue.

With the top of the track coming into form, Altig pounded the cushion and climbed to fifth by the time a critical
caution that also negated Noblitt's pass of Pankratz for the point, appeared with 22 laps in the books.

When Joe Wipperfurth flipped a lap later, Altig gained another position when fourth-runner Jay Ervine stalled his mount.  Meanwhile, Noblitt had successfully charged past Pankratz and was in the catbird seat with a two-lap dash to the checkered flag awaiting.

Roney and Altig both made quick work of Pankratz on the restart, with Altig then disposing of Roney as the white flag flew.  Altig quickly moved in on Noblitt and edged ahead by less than a car length aboard the Fontana-powered Bullet Leasing/Cathy's Manufactured Homes No. 67a Stealth as the checkered flag flew.

"My car was working really good everywhere, I could go top, bottom or middle," Altig explained.  "I passed a lot of cars on the bottom up until I got to about sixth, then Noblitt actually showed me the top and that's the only reason I went to the top."

Noblitt settled for runner-up honors aboard Kevin Noblitt's Ford-
powered Columbus Silgas No. 20n Beast.  "Everybody knows in
dirt racing that if you want to protect a position you go to the
bottom, so I had to go to the bottom and he came smoking in
there on the high side and he just barely got around me," Noblitt

Micro ace Tony Roney took the show position in his Midget racing
debut at the helm of Richard Roney's Fontana-powered Finish Line
Fabrication No. 1T Stealth.  Roney commented that, "I think the
car worked good on the bottom and I think I might have had
something for these guys, but I'm happy to finish third.  It was a
different race, a lot of cars in front of me messed up and blew
motors and wrecked and I'm happy to finish third."

Matt Streeter charged from the 19th position to snare fourth at
the line, with Pankratz settling for fifth.  Brian Ramstack raced
from 16th to snare sixth, with 21st-starter Adam Trimble, 23rd-
starter Billy Osta, Mark Bush and 22nd-starter Brad Paris
completing the top ten.

The top ten, along with eleventh through fifteenth place finishers Samantha Taylor, Ernie Bartley III, C.J. Sarna, Jeff Griffin and Bill Balog earned berths in the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night Qualifying events.

With the triumph, Altig moves on to Friday night's Oklahoma Dodge Dealers Qualifying card along with Matt Streeter, Adam Trimble, Brad Paris and C.J. Sarna.

Runner-up Noblitt snared a spot in Thursday night's Bass Pro Shops Qualifying event along with Randi Pankratz, Billy Osta, Samantha Taylor and Jeff Griffin.

Roney advanced to Wednesday's Creek Nation Casino Qualifying Showdown by virtue of his third place finish, with Brian Ramstack, Mark Bush, Ernie Bartley III and Bill Balog also earning Wednesday starting berths.

Ervine, Pankratz, Griffin, Essary, Altig, Henry, Wipperfurth, Joey Fabozzi and Ramstack each captured heat race wins for the 69-car Warren CAT Pre-Qualifying field.  Garrett Hood and Brian Harvey topped twin "C" Main action, with Streeter and Balog topping the twin "B" Mains.

Colorado's Dave Scroggs became the official first flip victim of the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Nationals when he went for a wild ride down the frontstretch in the evening's third heat race.  Other heat race flippers were Jonathan Cornell and Hood.  Terry Goodwin and Jody Rosenboom both got upside down in the First "B" Main, with Second "B" Main tumblers including Brian Carter, Dakoda Armstrong, Leroy Holler and Billy Mentgen.

The 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals continues with Wednesday night's Creek Nation Casino Qualifier, with racing action slated to get under way at 6:15 p.m.

Gary "Bubba" Altig (67a) races to the high side of Jordan Noblitt (20n) to win Tuesday night's Warren CAT Pre-Qualifying feature event at the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.
Jonathan Henry (21) was challenging for the lead in Tuesday night's Warren CAT Pre-Qualifying feature at the 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals when he jumped the right rear tire of Randi Pankratz (8p) and went for a ride.
Gary "Bubba" Altig celebrates his triumph in Tuesday night's Warren CAT Pre-Qualifying event at Tulsa Expo Raceway's 21st Annual O'Reilly Chili Bowl Midget Nationals.