“12 years of trying, 12 years of frustration. Kyle Larson will come to the checkered flag to win the Chili Bowl! Finally! The most anticipated moment in racing.” – Mike Joy from Scottsdale last night.
It was lucky number 13 for Kyle Larson Saturday night as he finally won his first Golden Driller after handing Christopher Bell his third win in a row last year. Larson left Tulsa last year dejected, he dominated the 2019 version of the Chili Bowl only to bobble on the last lap in turn 1 and allow Bell to get by to win after leading only one lap.
2020 had a different ending for Larson. This year ended with a full track burnout/slide job, confetti, a trophy, and his wife shotgunning beers per Larson family tradition in Victory Lane.
How It Happened
Christopher Bell could not have gotten a better start when the green flag waved to start the 34th Chili Bowl. The three-time defending champ stormed to the lead on the outside of pole-sitter Tanner Thorson and appeared set to check out on the field. Larson mired behind Thorson in third could only watch Bell slowly stretch his lead.
Cautions on lap 5 and 21 allowed Larson to keep Bell within striking distance as the two ex-Keith Kunz Motorsports drivers asserted themselves as the drivers to beat as the 55-lap even progressed.
A caution on lap 36 allowed the two NASCAR stars to trade jabs as Larson was able to get around Bell and not look back. A restart with 10 to go saw Larson fend off Bell who desperately tried to catch Larson for his 4th win in a row.
2020 was Kyle Larson’s year however and there didn’t appear to be an upset fan in the house as the entire event center roared for Larson as he crossed the line. Yung Money responded by giving them a high revving celebration and an enthusiastic exit from his car. A car he owns.
Bigger Than Daytona
“I’m sorry NASCAR, I’m sorry Daytona, but this is the biggest effing race I’ve ever won — I hope to win Daytona in a few weeks, but this is badass!”
Kyle Larson fueled the dirt racing v. NASCAR debate last season when he said winning the Chili Bowl would mean more to him than the Daytona 500. A perfectly reasonable thing to say for a guy who grew up racing dirt. He explained in his post-race interview what he meant by it.
For Larson he’s grown up on dirt, winning the Chili Bowl, winning Knoxville, those are the big races for him. Sure a Daytona 500 win would mean a lot to him but it’s not always about the scale of the event that makes it more important than another win.
Kyle Larson looks like a completely new driver from basically the Fall Dover race until now. 2020 could be a huge year for Larson.