Roger Diez: Chili Bowl finale set for Saturday

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Saturday is the finale of the week-long Chili Bowl Nationals Midget racing extravaganza. So far, the A-feature winners from Monday-Friday have punched their tickets to Saturday’s A-feature. Cannon McIntosh won on Monday, 2020 champion Kyle Larson Tuesday, two-time champ Rico Abreu on Wednesday, and 2017-19 titlist Christopher Bell on Thursday. Friday’s feature ran after deadline.

McIntosh led all but the first four laps of his 30-lap feature, Larson led laps 11-30 of his, Abreu scored a flag-to flag win, and Christopher Bell led 22 of 30 laps to take Thursday’s feature.

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid, another driver with local ties at Fernley 95A Speedway was second in Thursday’s A feature. Three-time Chili Bowl champ Bell also won Tuesday’s Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions (VIROC). Larson finished third and Minden’s Tanner Thorson (2019 VIROC winner) was seventh in the VIROC after starting on pole.

Saturday’s alphabet soup preliminary races will fill the field for the A-feature. Coverage on MAVTV and Lucas Oil TV begins at 5:30 p.m. If your provider doesn’t carry these channels, you can watch online at the MAVTV Facebook page.


Next week is IMSA’s “Roar Before the 24” warmup to the Rolex 24 at Daytona which will run the following week. There are 50 entries in five classes for the endurance classic. Seven Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars, 10 Lemans Prototype 2 (LMP2) machines, seven LMP3 racers, six Grand Touring Lemans (GTLM) cars, and 20 Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) entries make up the field. The winner of the last two DPi championships, Penske Racing Acura, has left the series but Wayne Taylor Racing has elected to switch from Cadillac to Acura for 2021. Former Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor, and Alexander Rossi will drive the car. And Chip Ganassi Racing is back in the series after a one-year hiatus, fielding a Cadillac DPi entry with IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, Former Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen, and Rolex 24 champion Renger van der Zande as drivers. The GTLM class will consist of a two-car Chevrolet Corvette C8R team, a pair of BMW M8’s, a Ferrari 488, and a Porsche 911 RSR. The GTD class has the greatest variety of makes including Lamborghini, Porsche, Lexus, Ferrari, Aston-Martin, Mercedes, Acura, and BMW. Qualifying for the Rolex 24 will air on NBCSN on Jan. 24 at 1:30 p.m.


The rumored postponement of the Formula 1 season opener in Australia has been confirmed, with the season now starting in Abu Dhabi on March 28. The plan is to insert the Australian round later in the season and keep to the 23-race schedule, the most ambitious calendar ever for the series. By then Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc should be fully recovered from his bout with COVID-19. He is currently quarantined and experiencing mild symptoms. He is the fourth F1 driver to my recollection to have contracted the virus despite all the safety precautions in place.


Finally, here’s an update to comments on NASCAR’s Next Gen race car in last week’s column. On Tuesday NASCAR conducted a brief Next Gen prototype test at Charlotte Motor Speedway with driver Kurt Busch. NASCAR’s Senior VP of Racing Innovation John Probst said the test was able to validate work done at the previous Charlotte test. To reduce variables they used the same driver (Busch) to sort through some adjustments made to improve performance on the 1.5 mile oval, and the test was deemed successful. The test schedule for the remainder of the year has not yet been released, although three or four tire tests with Goodyear are tentatively scheduled for the first half of the year.


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