David Gravel
David Gravel. (Abacus Racing photo)

Gravel, Pickens Added To Abacus’ Chili Bowl Roster

INDIANAPOLIS — David Gravel and Michael Pickens will both drive for Abacus Racing in the 2024 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.

The two drivers will race alongside Tyler Courtney, who was previously announced as the wheelman for the No. 57 Abacus entry. The trio will complete the team’s lineup for the annual midget racing event.

Gravel is a World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series regular, having accumulated 86 wins since his debut season in 2008. He finished second in series points this year, amassing 12 wins, 47 top-five and 61 top-10 finishes.

His driving experience also includes starts in the All-Star Circuit of Champions, the NASCAR Truck Series, the ARCA Menard Series and the USAC Silver Crown Series. His previous starts in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl includes an appearance in the A-Main in 2019 where he finished 18th.

Timing of the call from Abacus Racing was almost perfect. 

“I originally had a ride (for this year’s Chili Bowl) secured when Brent (Cox, Team Principal for Abacus Racing) reached out to me,” said Gravel.  “I was actually on the phone with him when I received a text that the team I was originally committed to might go down to running only two cars. At that point, I asked Brent for a few days to sort out my affairs, and once I realized that ride was gone, the deal with Abacus Racing came together.”

Michael Pickens
Michael Pickens. (Abacus Racing photo)

At about that same time, Pickens reached out to Abacus to see if they still had a car available.

Pickens explained, “I talked to Johnny Cofer (Crew Member for Abacus Racing) and he said they were thinking about running a third car but the decision at that time had not been made.

“I talked to Brent shortly thereafter who was on his way to California for the final USAC Midget Series races and he said he would have a chat with the team and be back in touch. 

“A few more phone calls and texts and we got the deal done.”

Pickens also brings to Abacus an extensive racing resume that includes 10 New Zealand Midget Series championships, one New Zealand Sprint Car championship as well as multiple USAC, POWRi and Xtreme Outlaw national midget wins. Pickens has made the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl A-Main on six previous occasions, with a top finish of third in 2011. 

Cox said, “Adding David and Michael to our driver line-up along with Tyler gives us three really good chances at this year’s Chili Bowl. I realize how incredibly hard it is to make the A-Main on Saturday, let alone win the Chili Bowl, but having these drivers will give us some great opportunities.”

Gravel will drive car No. 58 with primary sponsorship from MPV Express while Pickens will drive car No. 59 with primary sponsorship from CRC Industries. Other sponsors for both cars include CG CPAs, Indy Custom Stone, Forecheck Marketing and Dozerz Nutz & Boltz.  

Abacus Racing just finished its first full season in the USAC National Midget Series, winning eight races en route to a series point championship with Logan Seavey as its driver.

The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals will begin with practice on Jan. 7.