TULSA, Okla. – Justin Grant and Christopher Bell drew the best possible positions for the annual Pizza Express Chili Bowl Pole Dash that sets the first five rows of Saturday’s 55-lap championship main event inside the Tulsa Expo Center.
Grant and Bell will share the front row for the fourth and final round of the Pole Dash, meaning the worst either driver could start the finale of the 36th Chili Bowl is fourth. Grant won Friday’s preliminary feature, while Bell was victorious in Thursday’s preliminary main event.
The field for the pole dash is determined via random draw among the five preliminary night winners and the five preliminary night runners up. The five feature winners draw numbers one through five, followed by the five drivers who finished second drawing numbers six through 10 to determine the seeds for the Pole Dash.
Each race feature four cars racing for four laps, with the top-two finishers advancing to the next race. The first race features the drivers who drew seventh through 10th. The top-two finishers then advance to race the drivers who drew fifth and sixth.
The top-two finishers in that race then move on to race in the third race against the drivers who drew third and fourth. Finally, the top-two finishers in that race move on two face the drivers who drew one and two in the fourth and final race.
The driver who wins the final race of the four-race Pole Dash will start from the pole in Saturday’s Chili Bowl main event.
Grant said the Pole Dash could determine who wins Saturday’s finale because track position has a habit of being incredibly important.
“I think in years past it seemed like it has been pretty important because it seems like it (the track) stays locked down for a long time. This year the track doesn’t seem to have near the grip I don’t think that it has had in years past and it seems to swing quicker,” Grant. “I don’t know that it’s going to be as crucial as years past, but it’s certainly easier to stay in front of someone than it is to go by them.”
Tanner Carrick, Monday’s preliminary night winner, and Rico Abreu, Wednesday’s winner, will share the front row for the third round of the pole dash. Buddy Kofoid, who won Tuesday’s preliminary feature, drew the number five to slot him into race two alongside Wednesday’s runner-up Kevin Thomas Jr.
The four drivers who will have the longest route to the pole are Tanner Thorson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., defending Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals winner Kyle Larson and Tyler Courtney. They’ll open the Pole Dash, with only two advancing to the second race.