Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – TULSA, OK – Larry Wight’s third trip to the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals got off to a rocky start on Tuesday Night.
With a heat, Qualifier, possible ‘C’ or ‘B’ Main and the preliminary A-Main on his plate, Wight needed to have a solid night to get a guaranteed spot in the Saturday feature A-Main event.
Wight started his night off strong as he was the pole sitter for Heat race No. 4. He quickly got the jump on the start and led wire to wire. However, with passing points in effect (a staple of midget car racing), Wight was only scored 16th overall.
“We came here a couple years ago and had some success.” Wight said. “ I wasn’t happy about starting up front because of the passing points, but it was probably the safest place to be right now. I gotta hand it to the track crew they do a great job. It’s a little narrow but it should widen out.”
After his Heat race win, the qualifier for the evenings mains saw Wight take to the 1/5th mile indoor clay surface. Unfortunately for Wight, his race ended early on a three-wide move gone wrong. Flipping into the outside catch fence, Wight’s car came to rest with heavy damage.
Luckily for Wight, his B-Main which he was relegated to with his flip was going to take quite some time to get to. Wight’s crew furiously wrenched on the machine, replacing left rear equipment and re-dialing in the setup.
Wight knifed his way through early wrecks in his B-Main to be in fourth on the lap 3 restart, he then charged to the lead by lap seven on the outside of the track. On the final restart Wight got the grip he was looking for and drove away for the win.
“We had some misfortune, I put it where I shouldn’t have in the qualifier. We were able to thrash on this thing and put a new rear end in it and drive line. I can’t thank these guys enough.”
Starting 17th in the Tuesday night A-Main, Wight needed a solid run in the top five to put himself in position to stay out of most if not all of the much feared “Alphabet Soup” of main events on Saturday leading up to the grand finale. The A-Main of the Chili Bowl.
After a less than stellar start to his A-main, Wight found himself slowing moving up the order and by lap 15, had moved into 11th position. The caution flew and allowed the field to bunch up, saving Wight from going a lap down to the race’s leader, Kyle Larson.
The NASCAR star led the field to green on the restart and Wight immediately began dicing with cars ahead to gain more ground toward a solid position in Saturday’s racing program.
Suddenly the caution flew again. As cameras and eyes scoured the speedway for the reason the yellow flag waved, Wight sat in a cloud of steam and smoke in turns three and four with an expired engine. A disheartening end to Wight’s realistic chances at the 2019 Chili Bowl A-main.
Saturday’s racing has a lot of opportunity attached to it, however Wight will most likely start from one of two D-main events, which makes his road to the A-main long and daunting. Wight will have to finish in the transfer spot for the D,C and B mains to have a chance at his second Chili Bowl Main event on Saturday.