NASCAR regulars shut out of the Chili Bowl, Victory Lane out West

Say hello to our newest feature for 2023, which will keep tabs on the past and present of NASCAR and their dirt racing exploits.

Josh Bilicki

The frequent Cup Series contender made his Chili Bowl debut on Tuesday (January 10) by leading the second heat race and struggled from the start, holding up the field clear with a slow start to the race. To his credit, Bilicki got through the heat race without incident, finishing fifth and sneaking into the back of qualifying. Bilicki made a reliable effort on the B-main but eventually fell flat and moved into the preliminary feature of the day.

On Saturday, Bilicki started in the second J-main but was sent to the back before the green flag because he required a second pushing start. Bilicki ran the race without incident but was never a threat to move on.

Alex Bowman

After one night of racing in the Race of Champions at the promoters’ invitation, the regular Cup Series player scored a win in the Chilean Bowl heat Tuesday night thanks to a red sea parting moment that allowed him to go from fifth to first in half a lap.

Bowman’s luck was initially spent, as during his qualifying Bowman was involved in a first-lap incident that tipped Jeb Sessoms and Bowman to the tail for a spin.

On Saturday, Bowman put together a convincing campaign, holding the final pole position on first E-main despite constant pressure from behind and making multiple lane changes. Bowman never cracked the top fifteen and was relegated to the D-main position.

Chase Briscoe

On Saturday, the Cup Series regular started 7th at Chilean Bowl B Maine and engaged in a pitched battle with Jonathan Bisson and Ryan Thames as it reached 6th in the running order, however, a late restart saw Briscoe cycle the berm alternately 3rd and 4th, falling to Tenth place and failed to transfer.

Matt Crafton

The three-time Truck Series champ had a second-best week at the IMCA Winter Nationals at Cocopah Speedway, qualifying for the final two features on Friday and Saturday after failing to move from a modified B-main Thursday.

Friday saw Crafton win the heat race and run in the top 10 for the first half of the feature, but he dropped from eighth to 18th after having to go off the track to avoid a collision on the backstretch with 11 laps to go. Saturday Crafton made the final A-main weekend but finished the lead lap.

Carson Hosivar

The Truck Series quarterback scored his first career Tulsa-checked game with a win in a chaotic Chili Bowl C key game that some have called Sam Hafertepe Jr. a home run. He has no way of knowing, as the C-main occurred during a Flo Racing blackout for nine minutes). Hocevar failed to move from B-main, although he did make some headlines that evening.

Hocevar performed well on the G-main, moving forward and threatening a transfer spot before losing the final move to Parker Price-Miller in a photo finish.

Mickey Kyle

The former ARCA Racing Series player made his late fashion show debut at Vado on Wednesday night, falling in a heat and finishing in the back of B-main, although he completed both events without incident. Kyle was driving with fellow Louisianan Kid Dillard.

Friday night saw a significant improvement, with Kyle finishing second in his qualifying group and easily moving to A-main Friday, where he ran the full advantage but finished out on the lead lap. Saturday was more of the same, as Kyle qualified well and almost won the B-main title, finishing the first lap of the feature after being roughed by Mike Marlar as part of the fierce battle for the win between Marlar, Kyle Larson and Bobby Pearce.

Todd Clover

The former Truck Series regular would prove costly in a hot Chile Bowl, as Kluever never improved from the starting spot and lost a crucial spot late after a pitched battle with Santino Ferrucci. Buried, Kluever failed to advance from C-main on Friday.

Saturday was more of the same. Kluever got stuck on Lap 1 tangled in the first L-main and dropped to the back, eventually missing a one-point move.

Bobby Labonte

The 2000 Cup Series champion had a solid debut as an IMCA stock car driver at Cocopah on Thursday, going plus-four in his first heat and scoring a convincing top-ten finish in the A-Major sticking to the bottom of the racetrack.

That luck faded on Friday, however, as Labonte suffered front-end damage in his heat race after hitting spinning Jerry Flippo and failing to move from his B-main car after repairs. More bad luck came after on Saturday Labonte failed to finish B-main after suffering a puncture. However, Labonte appeared to have been granted a temporary promoter, starting A-main and winning tough Charger titles, moving forward from 29th to 12th.

Kyle Larson

The 2021 Cup Series champ scored top-ten finishes in all four of Vado’s Wild West Shootout features this week, placing sixth on Wednesday, fourth on Friday, and second on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s feature, an instant classic, saw Larson smile after his race despite falling just short of Pearce in the final running order. Larson also made waves Sunday night after the race by announcing his intention to return to the Wild West Shootout in 2024.

Ken Schrader

The former Cup Series regular hitter in his first IMCA Modified race of the year at Cocopah on Thursday, winning his heat race and finishing sixth in the A-main.

This was the high point of Schrader’s journey west. Friday saw the No. 9 car fail to progress beyond the heat races due to an unspecified mechanical illness.

On Saturday, Schrader finished second in his heat race and started the main race, but elected to retire after a rain delay early in the race.

Kenny Wallace

The former Cup Series regular, he followed fellow NASCAR veteran Labonte across the IMCA stock car feature field Thursday night, finishing in the top ten after narrowly being moved from the first B-main. Wallace ended his stay at Cocopah Speedway after Thursday’s race.

JJ follows

The former Cup Series regular had a solid, decisive performance in the Chili Bowl Fourth Qualifier Thursday night, allowing him a first-row start in the B-main that Yeley proved stellar on defense, holding off traffic to finish third and move into the A-major, where He finished thirteenth.

On Saturday, Yeley made a slight move forward on C-main two, but did not contest the transition. Of note, Yeley saw the record he held with four other Alphabet Soup drivers at the Chili Bowl Nationals go out the window, with Kris Carroll grabbing seven transfers as he moved from N-main to H-main. Yeley moved from F-main to the Chili Bowl feature in 2004.

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