TULSA, Okla. — Cannon McIntosh is becoming Mr. Monday at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire.
The 18-year-old from nearby Bixby, Okla., raced to his second straight win on Cummins Qualifying Night at Tulsa Expo Raceway, opening the Super Bowl of Midget Racing the same way he did one year ago.
McIntosh started outside the front row and quickly found the top lane of the quarter-mile dirt oval to his liking, racing past polesitter Ryan Bernal on lap four of 30 and commanding the remaining distance.
The driver of the No. 71k for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports fended off slide job attempts from Tyler Courtney on multiple restarts before pulling away over a final nine-lap sprint to the finish.
McIntosh eventually took the checkered flag 1.446 seconds ahead of Courtney to become the 26th driver in Chili Bowl history with multiple preliminary night victories.
Overall, Monday night was McIntosh’s eighth career national midget feature win.
“You just have to have confidence going into the night, and I felt really good about our chances all day,” McIntosh said. “We weren’t the best early on today in practice, but we worked and got a little bit better there before the main. Kaz (Townsend) and Keith (Kunz) dug into their notebooks and just helped each other out. We were dialed in there in that feature; there were a few times on the top where I just got in too hard and made errors, but once I settled down a little bit, we were really good.
“The track changed quite a bit throughout that race, and I feel like I moved around (in the groove) right at the perfect time each time,” McIntosh added. “I’m just thankful to be back in this position.”
McIntosh rim-rode for much of the feature, but later shifted to running the bottom groove in turns three and four late in the race after being challenged by Courtney on restarts at laps 11 and 17.
“I’ve been so used to the USAC format where, on the restarts, you have to follow the leader … and on that late one, I saw duck out to where he almost cleared me on that slider,” McIntosh recalled. “I had to enter into (turn) one as hard as I possibly could. I changed it up after that, and from there, I think we were really good on the restarts. I don’t think he had enough to be able to clear us or even get to us.
“I think moving down to the bottom right at the end in three and four really, really helped us.”
Courtney’s runner-up finish wasn’t what he came into the night hoping for, but it still was enough to lock him into his fifth consecutive Saturday feature at the Chili Bowl.
“I think the longest run was about 10 laps, and I think if we’d had a longer run I might have had something for him,” Courtney noted. “At the end I just got to playing too much defense. I didn’t want to give up the bottom and risk missing the lock-in (spot), but it’s just awesome to be back here at the Chili Bowl. A lot of things tried to make it not happen, but we’re making it happen and it’s a great feeling.”
Blake Hahn rolled from the outside of the sixth row to a podium finish, setting himself up nicely for a B Main run on Saturday. Chris Windom crossed fourth and World of Outlaws ace David Gravel was fifth.
Sixteen-year-old Jacob Denney, who celebrated his birthday and came of age to race at the Chili Bowl on Sunday, turned plenty of heads by beating Chris Windom in his heat race and finishing sixth in the main.
Other Monday notables in the feature included NASCAR Cup Series rookie Chase Briscoe in seventh, past Chili Bowl winner Tim McCreadie in eighth and California rookie Carson Macedo in 10th.
Both McCreadie and Jerry Coons Jr., who ended up 22nd, ran through the alphabet soup by advancing from the C Mains all the way to the A Main Monday night.
To view complete race results, advance to the next page.
SPEED SPORT’s LIVE From the Chili Bowl coverage is supported by MyRacePass, KICKER, Curb Records and Swann Communications! To find out more about each of our partners and to check out all of SPEED SPORT’s Chili Bowl coverage, visit our Chili Bowl Index Page! DON’T MISS SPEED SPORT’S LIVE From the Chili Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m. ET on MAVTV and watch the Chili Bowl finale LIVE Saturday, Jan. 16 at 8:30 p.m. on MAVTV!