RPW Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – TULSA, OK – Larry Wight’s Chili Bowl 2020 got started in strong fashion on Tuesday night as he finished fifth in his preliminary A-Main. Along the way on the second night of preliminary racing, Wight once again left a memorable mark on the Tulsa Expo Center.
The Phoenix, NY native started on pole in his heat race, winning easily. However, passing points are always key in the world of Midget racing and Wight’s wire to wire victory only netted him 100 points.
Wight was all smiles after the heat but worried about his Gypsum Express machine’s handling. “The car is a little loose when it’s not in the cushion.” Wight said, “It’s a big jump (from big blocks to midgets). Most of these guys are used to cars three times this size, we race a car five times this size.”
Wight was competing against top national talent during his preliminary night, including the likes of Kyle Larson. Larson, who was in a league of his own the entire night seemed to be the clear cut favorite leading into the night’s qualifiers.
Larson won his qualifier handily but it was Larry Wight who became the story of the qualifier portion of Tuesday night’s festivities. Starting third, Wight had the opportunity to gain to two positions and their valuable points.
Things did not go as planned on the initial start with Wight falling back to fifth place in the first handful of laps. continuing to search the track, Wight’s car was in desperate need of grip for the right rear tire. He found it with just four laps to go on the extreme outside. A place Wight has become familiar with at the Chili bowl.
In a matter of just two laps Wight found himself with the momentum and began rocketing around the cars ahead one by one. On the final lap Wight barely (if at all) lifted into turn one, throwing all caution to the wind. He put the car to the extreme outside once more and easily moved into the lead. Wight took home the victory in the biggest charge of the evening.
That Qualifier performance would be enough to earn Wight the Jason Leffler Elbows Up Award. An award created in honor of the late Leffler for the most exciting driver on a preliminary night. This is the second time Wight has won the award.
“I was trying to get the car to stick but I couldn’t feel the right rear.” Wight said post race, “We lost too many spots when Alex (Bright) pulled that slider on us. It was kinda shit n’ get and make up some spots. Right now it’s a perfect track to do sliders on.”
The win in his qualifier gave the Modified regular a third starting spot in the A-main with his passing points total. However, the main event would be a struggle for Wight. With a lack of forward bite in the latter stages, Wight had to fight hard to remain inside the top five, where he would finish in the fifth position.
Larson went on to take an easy victory as he again controlled the pace of the event from a safe and comfortable lead for a vast majority of the event.
Wight’s fifth place finish in the feature wasn’t what he was looking for, however it does set him up to be in solid position for a B-Main event on Saturday night, avoiding what could have been a very arduous alphabet soup.
Saturday’s main event from Tulsa can be seen live on MAV TV. Follow along with Race Pro Weekly for updates from the 2020 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals…