Kyle Larson led all 50 laps but needed to hold off late charges by Christopher Bell and Justin Grant to win Saturday night’s 35th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. The win is the second straight Chili Bowl victory for Larson.
Grant would finish second and Tanner Thorson placed third as Toyota-powered drivers swept the three podium finishes for the second year in a row.
Starting from the pole, Grant pulled out to the lead on lap one, but a caution came out resulting in a complete restart. As the field came back to the green, Larson would assume the top spot running the high side with Grant running second and Bell in third.
Grant made a number of runs at Larson but couldn’t complete a pass as the top three stayed intact throughout much of the race. Behind them, Thorson was the driver on the move climbing from the 11th starting position into the top five on lap 30.
As the laps began to wind down, Bell began to make his move, overtaking Grant for second on lap 46 and then quickly closing on Larson. The two leaders began to hit heavy traffic before the yellow waived with four laps remaining.
On the restart, Bell would make repeated attempts to pass on laps 52 and 53, pulling up side-by-side with Larson, but couldn’t complete the pass. Finally, he went high into turn four, but hit the curb, flipping his car and bringing the field to a halt. He would eventually place 14th.
That would set up a green/white/checker situation with Grant moving up to second, followed by Thorson and Cannon McIntosh. Grant made his move on the green flag but wasn’t able to stick it on the high side into one, bobbling and almost going over. He was able to save it, but it ended bottling up traffic behind him with Tyler Courtney flipping to bring out another caution flag.
On the final restart, it was all Larson as he went on to take the checkered flag, followed by Grant, Thorson and McIntosh as Toyota-powered cars took the top four finishing positions.
Overall, Toyota had a program best 14 drivers qualify for the 24-car A Main feature on Saturday with Chris Windom (sixth), Brad Sweet (eighth) and Spencer Bayston (ninth) also finishing in the top 10.
This year’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals featured more than 300 entries.