Field For 11th Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions Set
Story By: Bryan Hulbert /Chili Bowl
Photos By: Tommy Hein
TULSA, Okla. (January 14, 2019) For the 11th time, a field of some of the best drivers to scatter clay atop the Tulsa Expo Raceway will gather for a showdown on Tuesday night as the Vacuworx Invitational Race of Champions (VIROC) will go 20 laps for a $2,500 prize.
Set to go down among 20 drivers, invitation to the VIROC is based on : 1. You must either be a driver champion of the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire; 2. Be driving for an owner champion; 3. Be a past winner of the VIROC; 4. Enter the Chili Bowl as the reigning National Midget Driver of the Year.
So who meets the criteria?
The owner with the most drivers in the VIROC is Keith Kunz. With five drivers eligible, Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Champions in the field include defending race winner, Christopher Bell. Twice a winner of a Golden Driller in 2015 and 2016, California’s Rico Abreu is also in the mix. Entered as the owner champion’s choice for Keith Kunz, Kansas shoe Tucker Klaasmeyer will make his first appearance in the VIROC with 2018 National Midget Driver of the Year, Logan Seavey, also taking his first green flag as a member of the VIROC field.
Two cars under the Swindell banner will race to the green with five-time Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Champion, Sammy Swindell, looking to bring his VIROC win total to a match his Golden Driller count. Racing to four Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Championships, Kevin Swindell returns as a car owner in 2019 with California’s Ryan Bernal bringing the list of first time VIROC starters to three.
Racing for Rusty Kunz, the three-time owner champion has tabbed California’s Brad Sweet to represent him in the VIROC. One year ago, Sweet raced to a fifth-place finish. With Jay McKinnie credentials on his No. 2j, Arizona’s J.J. Yeley will try to overcome a DNF one year ago. Winning the VIROC in 2016, Tanner Thorson will bring the Clyde Lamar owned No. 3c into the VIROC for his fourth appearance.
Winner of the VIROC in 2010, Brad Loyet’s green flag in the 2019 event will be the start of his last Chili Bowl. Recovering from an injury sustained when a wheel exploded, Loyet will be behind the wheel of the Loyet Landscaping No. 05.
With a new team and number for the 2019 event 2018 World 100 winner, and 2006 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl winner Tim McCreadie, will wheel a James Neuman-owned car into the field with hopes of delivering a win in a car done on the likeness of his father’s legendary No. 9.
The last time Tracy Hines earned a Golden Driller as 2005, and in 2019 the pairing of Hines and Wilke-Pak returns with Hines having made the field in every VIROC contested. His best finish of third came in 2016.
Topping the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire in 1990, John Heydenreich will make his four appearances in the VIROC. Four previous starts in the VIROC, Kasey Kahne earns his spot in this year’s event with Zarounian Motorsports again teaming with the Washington racer.
With a VIROC win to his name one year ago, Arizona’s Chad Boat will attempt to back up his triumph in his seventh start. Finishing 13th in the VIROC in 2018, Danny Stratton will represent Chili Bowl Owner Champion, Andy Bondio. Delivering Andy Bondio two of his three Chili Bowl wins, Cory Kruseman, will jump behind the wheel of his No. 21k for his only laps of this year’s event.
Not missing the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire since 1998, “The People’s Champ” Dave Darland will make his fifth appearance in the VIROC, racing under Ralph Potter’s credential.
Last but not least, Aaron Reutzel joins the field for the fist time. Competing under Joe Dooling’s name, the man who topped the 2018 All Star Circuit of Champions will look to punch his own ticket into next year’s VIROC event.
The 33rd annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire takes place January 14-19, 2019 at the Tulsa Expo Raceway, located inside the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Okla. Monday and Tuesday tickets are on sale. Monday and Tuesday reserved seats are $54 each. The Pit Pass is sold at the event and includes a General Admission pass good for seating on the backstretch. Pit Passes are $45/weekday and $60 on Saturday.
For continued updates on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, fans can follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with @CBNationals. All official press, updates, and results on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire can be found online at http://www.chilibowl.com.
2019 VIROC Field
01-Kyle Larson (Elk Grove, CA)
1-Sammy Swindell (Germantown, TN)
1R-Brad Sweet (Grass Valley, CA)
2J-J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)
3C-Tanner Thorson (Minden, NV)
05-Brad Loyet (Sunset Hills, MO)
9-Tim McCreadie (Watertown, NY)
11-Tracy Hines (Wilkinson, IN)
21K-Cory Kruseman (Ventura, CA)
22-John Heydenreich (Bloomsburg, PA)
27-Tucker Klaasmeyer (Paola, KS)
36-Dave Darland (Lincoln, IN)
39-Ryan Bernal (Hollister, CA)
47X-Danny Stratton (Reading, PA)
67-Logan Seavey (Sutter, CA)
67Z-Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)
71W-Christopher Bell (Norman, OK)
84X-Chad Boat (Phoenix, AZ)
92-Aaron Reutzel (Clute, TX)
97-Rico Abreu (Rutherford, CA)