Over 350 entrants in 2023 Chili Bowl despite absences of Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell
For the ninth time in its history, the 2023 Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will feature more than 300 entrants, though it will happen this year without Kyle Larson or Christopher Bell.
During the summer, Larson publicly criticized the size of the Chili Bowl purse, which has remained stable for many years at $10,000-to-win the final night’s midget feature.
The 2021 Cup Series champion said he instead would run the dirt late model Wild West Shootout in Vado, New Mexico. The Wild West Shootout pays $10,000 for each of five preliminary nights and $25,000 for the finale. If a driver is able to sweep the event, the payout expands to $300,000.
Bell, who also has been critical of the purse, is skipping the 2023 race.
Chili Bowl promoter Emmett Hahn has said the prize money is all that can be afforded because of the costs from running the indoor race.
The absence of two of NASCAR’s most notable dirt track graduates did not shrink the entry list, however. Nor did it discourage other NASCAR and open wheel standouts from attending.
The current 2023 Chili Bowl car count stands at 355 entrants, almost identical to the 2022 Chili Bowl lineup of 360 entries. In 2021, the car count was near 300 entries despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visiting superstars highlighting the 2023 Chili Bowl entries are NASCAR drivers Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe and Josh Bilicki. Drivers with open wheel connections include Santino Ferrucci and Adam Andretti, son of Aldo Andretti and nephew of Mario Andretti.
The first of five qualification nights is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 9. Drivers have been seeded into sessions ranging from 60 to about 75 drivers each night.
Briscoe and Bowman will compete Monday night. Bilicki and Andretti race on Tuesday, and Ferrucci will run on Friday.
With some of the big names from 2022 absent, midget and sprint specialists will take center stage. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid had a career season in 2022 that included a win in the BC39 on the dirt track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; he will race on Tuesday.
The 2022 winner Tanner Thorson hits the track on Thursday.
Justin Grant, who beat Larson in November’s Turkey Night Grand Prix, will race on Friday.
This year’s winningest driver in the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series, Jade Avedisian will race on Tuesday in a head-to-head match with Zach Daum, the inaugural champion of that series.