This Day in Dirt: Cannon McIntosh Wins 2023 Chili Bowl Opening Night; Chase Briscoe Strong

Winning Moment: The first two spots in the Chili Bowl A-main Saturday were decided in dramatic fashion, with Cannon McIntosh winning Monday’s preliminary (Jan. 9) on a flat tire as Shane Golobic beat Chris Windom to the line behind him. 

Dramatic Moment: See above. The last lap three laps Monday night had more drama that many Cup races do in three hours.

Also, the Big One made an unwelcome appearance at the end of Monday’s first B-main.

In a Nutshell: The Chili Bowl’s opening night had few surprises but an absolutely stellar racing surface that bodes well for the rest of the week.

2023 CHILI BOWL NATIONALS NIGHT 1 RACE RESULTS

What They’ll Be Group Chatting About This Morning

It’s hard to say which was more impressive, McIntosh managing to keep just enough air pressure in a deflating tire to run three laps and win a feature race, or the duel that both Windom and Golobic staged for the final transfer spot. And given how midget racing resembled wrestling for much of 2022, to see such a big-time race decided in clean fashion was a breath of fresh air. 

Admit it, pretty much everyone watching the Race of Champions on Monday night would have loved to see this happen.

Speaking of Larson, Matt Weaver wrote a provocative feature Monday demonstrating apparent animosity between Kyle Larson and Chili Bowl promoter Emmett Hahn that has been percolating since Larson announced last fall he’d skip the Chili Bowl, in large part due to a winner’s purse that has remained stagnant for over a decade. Said Hahn, “he (Larson) bought himself a jet plane, a two and a half million-dollar motorhome, and if he really wanted to help those back of the field guys, he would.”

Sorry, but I’m all team Larson on this one. Demonizing a racecar driver for being successful while using every interview possible to deem the Chili Bowl a career maker as Hahn does is hypocritical. For all the talk Hahn put forward about the purse not increasing for the race winner because he didn’t have it due to the expense of building Tulsa Expo Raceway, somehow the event came up with nearly $35,000 to put in the purse for those toward the back of the A-main (a move that deserves praise, but also likely came in response to the attention Larson brought to it).

As for Larson, who is instead out in Vado, N.M., running the Wild West Shootout, let’s take stock of his actions, even with his private plane and motorhome. Larson and Brad Sweet both saved the Silver Dollar Speedway in California and have stood up the High Limit Racing Series, which in hosting a dozen five-figure sprint car races are pumping far more money into open-wheel racing than this week’s Bowl. 

See also
This Weekend in Dirt: Jonathan Davenport Bests Kyle Larson in Instant Classic at Vado

And most important, Larson, who is very much a draw, is out running a Wild West Shootout event that’s paying as much to win its preliminary features as the Chili Bowl is to win its A-main. What better way for Larson to give back to racers not as successful as he than to lend his talent and draw to an event that’s actually putting its money where its mouth is for the racers competing, rather than using “it’s all about the trophy” as a convenient excuse? Take one look at the Wild West Shootout payout compared to the Chili Bowl and fault Larson for take umbrage.

If anyone doubts the Chili Bowl was missing Larson and Christopher Bell, take one look at the Race of Champions, which extended invitations to Chase Briscoe and Alex Bowman, both racers who have never been champion of anything relating to the Chili Bowl. Promoters provisionals have always been a thing, but it’s telling that simply being a NASCAR Cup Series driver was grounds to qualify for a Race of Champions alongside a field of midget and Chili Bowl drivers that have actually won something in the midget ranks.

Hero of the Day

I didn’t want to give this to McIntosh, as his sour grapes post-race after coming up short in a battle with Spencer Bayston in the Race of Champions was laughable and over something no other driver or commentator in the building even raised an eyebrow at. 

But credit where it’s due. McIntosh dominated Monday’s preliminary feature, and rather than panicking when he had a right-rear tire go flat as the caution flew with three laps to go in the feature race, stayed on top of the situation, keeping air pressure in the tire with controlled runs under yellow, then running a protective line during the last three laps that managed to keep two extremely accomplished drivers in Windom and Golobic behind him. McIntosh absolutely earned his spot in Saturday’s A-main. 

Victim of the Day

Jerry Coons Jr. was running fourth in Monday’s preliminary feature, which would have been good enough to lock him into a B-main Saturday before he brought out the caution three laps short of the finish for a loose wheel nut that left the veteran and his team confounded.

Shout Outs

  • Colin Deming opened the annual flip count of the Chili Bowl on the first lap of the first heat, the first of six such flips on the day. Deming was uninjured.
  • Kayla Roell spun in the final corner of the second C-main, costing herself a transfer spot to one of Monday’s B-mains in the process. 
  • Cup regular Bowman opted not to run the Monday preliminary feature after getting invited to run the Race of Champions. He will still attempt to qualify for the Chili Bowl Nationals later this week.
  • 14-year-old Gavan Boschele finished sixth in Monday’s preliminary feature and earned a spot in a B-main Saturday. Boeschele spoke to Frontstretch last week in advance of Monday’s event.
See also
Driller to Daytona? Tulsa Shootout Winner Gavan Boschele Hopes So

Numbers Game

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Dirt track that ran oval-track racing programs Monday night, the Tulsa Expo Raceway.

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Minute being allowed in the work area for teams under cautions during feature races in the 2023 Chili Bowl.

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Highest national car count Monday, Chili Bowl opening night in Tulsa.

Up Next: Frontstretch will be covering the second qualifying night of the Chili Bowl Nationals on Tuesday (Jan. 10). Streaming coverage can be found on Flo Racing.

About the author

Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.

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