The Chili Bowl Nationals has a new winner, Tanner Thorson. Only three drivers had won the most prestigious dirt midget race in the United States over the previous seven editions.
The defending Chili Bowl and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson had won the last two Chili Bowls. Fellow full-time Cup Series driver Christopher Bell won the three Chili Bowls before Larson. Rico Abreu won the two Chili Bowls before Bell. All three former winners reached the A-Main with hopes of adding another Golden Digger trophy to their collection, but all three went home empty-handed.
Christopher Bell started the 55-lap A-Main on pole with Tanner Thorson beside Bell in second. Abreu started third, and Larson started seventh. The race was largely processional until the first caution came out when Colby Copeland’s machine stopped on the inside of turn 2. When the race restarted, several drivers began using the high line to try and move their way up the field, starting with Kyle Larson.
With 20 laps to go, Kyle Larson slid up towards the cushion beside Justin Grant while the two drivers were racing for fifth. Grant’s car hit the cushion and flipped as a result, but he was able to continue. Just after the restart, Thorson was able to end Bell’s stranglehold at the front and take the lead with 18 laps to go. Though, Bell didn’t go down easy and continued to fight Thorson for the rest of the race.
With five laps to go, Brady Bacon and Colby Copeland made contact in front of the leaders. The collision sent Bacon flipping through the air. Both drivers involved were okay. The leaders did have to take evasion action to avoid the incident. Bell stayed high and slid around the outside. Thorson stayed low and made slight contact with Copeland. Thorson’s machine seemed undamaged. He was able to hold off Christopher Bell in an intense five-lap sprint to win his first Chili Bowl.
Also, 20-year-old Kaylee Bryson became the first woman to reach the A-Main at the Chili Bowl Nationals in the event’s 36-year history. She punched her ticket to the main event by driving from 10th to 1st in the second B-Main. Bryson finished 18th in the A-Main.