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USAC

Jan 21 - 2020
Read Time 4 Min

Toyota Captures Sixth Straight Chili Bowl Crown

Kyle Larson passed three-time defending champion Christopher Bell on lap 39 and went on lead the final 17 laps to win Saturday night’s 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.Toyota Captures Sixth Straight Chili Bowl Crown
Kyle Larson passed three-time defending champion Christopher Bell on lap 39 and went on lead the final 17 laps to win Saturday night’s 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. It marked the sixth consecutive Chili Bowl Nationals title for Toyota, which also swept the podium as Bell finished second and 17-year-old Cannon McIntosh placed third.

“This is a result of a lot of good work by a lot of good people,” said Tyler Gibbs, Vice President and General Manager, Toyota Racing Development (TRD, U.S.A). “It’s just a great reward for a lot of hard work. We’re fortunate to have so many good teams and good drivers. It was a great win here tonight and it also was really exciting to see the effort by both Cannon McIntosh and Buddy Kofoid. That shows a little glimpse of the future for us. We put in our dues here for a number of years, so we’re glad to see all the efforts pay off.”

Tyler Gibbs

Starting from the outside of the front row, it was Bell who went straight to the lead and began to pull away early. Behind him, Tanner Thorson was second, followed by Larson, Rico Abreu, Jonathan Beason and McIntosh.

By lap 16, Larson had moved into second and shortly after, Bell started to get into lap traffic before a series of yellow flags would bunch the field.  As the race passed the midway point, Larson worked to stay with Bell on the restarts and it would eventually pay off big for the California native.

Bell would lead the first 38 laps before Larson would take advantage of a restart, staying close through turn two and then throwing a slider into turn three to take the lead. Once out in front, Larson was comfortably in control the rest of the way, with Bell holding down second.

Behind them, McIntosh had climbed from the eighth starting position up to fourth and eventually overtook Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) teammate Rico Abreu for the third spot. 
Bell would lead the first 38 laps before Larson would take advantage of a restart, staying close through turn two and then throwing a slider into turn three to take the lead.

“Rico and I started battling for third at the end and I went to the bottom and we were able to take third,” said McIntosh. “Rico really helped me all week. He’s a good guy to have in your pit because he wants everyone on the team to do well. To race side-by-side with him, a two-time Chili Bowl champ, is really cool and I’m really grateful for it. I never imagined this happening. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Toyota, Tulsa Sod & Mulch, my dad and all my supporters. They say dream big and I’ve dreamt big and so far it’s going well. I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

Cannon McIntosh
At the checkered flag, it was Larson leading Bell by .801 seconds, with McIntosh third and Abreu fifth to give Toyota four of the top-five finishers on the night.

“It was an outstanding race, coming in with a new team,” said Bell. (Team Owner) Chad Boat did an outstanding job preparing for this event and we definitely hit it. We didn’t get beat by much, so I’m really proud of that. Losing won’t drive me harder because I love this event so much. I’m just really proud of the effort of this whole team. We’ve come a long way.”

Christopher Bell

Also earning top-10 finishes on the night were Buddy Kofoid, who placed seventh, Blake Hahn, in eighth and Tucker Klaasmeyer in the tenth position. For his efforts, the 18-year-old Kofoid would earn Rookie of the Year honors as the only first-year Chili Bowl driver to advance to Saturday’s A Main.

The 18-year-old Kofoid would earn Rookie of the Year honors as the only first-year Chili Bowl driver to advance to Saturday’s A Main.

“My first Chili Bowl has been one to remember,” said Kofoid. “I owe it all to Keith Kunz Motorsports, along with Toyota and Mobil 1. To be here has been a dream come true. To win Rookie of the Year is really cool and to be the only rookie to lock into the main event is the cherry on top.”

Buddy Kofoid
Overall, Toyota had a program record 13 drivers qualify for the 24-car A Main feature on Saturday.  Thomas Meseraull, who narrowly made it back for Saturday’s feature after a family emergency called him back to Indiana, would finish 12th after getting caught up in another car’s flip while challenging for a top-five spot.  Chris Windom finished 14th, Jason McDougal was 15th, Zach Daum placed 16th, Michael Pickens was 20th and Aaron Reutzel rounded out the Toyota contingent in 23rd.