TULSA, Okla. (Jan. 19, 2016) – Tony Bruce Jr. put together his best performance at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals Presented by General Tire during its 30th edition last weekend.
Bruce Jr., who drove for Team Eights and Chad Wheeler during the marquee midget event, posted his career-best result during both preliminary competition as well as the finale at Tulsa Expo Raceway.
“On the prelim night I achieved one of my goals of making the A Main,” he said. “That put us fairly decent for Saturday’s main event.”
With a record 336 drivers on hand, Bruce Jr. kicked off the event last Tuesday during his preliminary night. He finished where he started – third – in a heat race, which lined him up on the outside of the fifth row for a qualifier.
“In the heat we got up to second and had a little engine trouble and fell back to third,” he said. “That put us at the back of a qualifier. We were able to advance a few spots and put ourselves in the front row of a B Main.”
Bruce Jr. won the consolation race to garner a transfer into the 25-lap main event, which he started on the outside of the ninth row.
“I made some mistakes,” he said. “I had a tough time running the bottom. There’s definitely an art form of riding the berm. I haven’t quite figured that out. I was pretty one-dimensional and just ran the top the entire race. It probably cost me a few spots. All in all, it was a good effort.”
Bruce Jr. maneuvered from 18th to a 12th-place finish. That lined him up on the outside of the second row for a C Main on Saturday’s finale, which was broadcast live on MAVTV.
“The goal was to win it because if you ride around and make sure you’re in a transfer that’s a lot of times when you’ll get passed,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I was aggressive and went after the win. It was great exposure for us and our team.”
Bruce Jr. claimed a C Main win to transfer into the back of a B Main, which he started on the inside of the seventh row.
“We kind of had a chance, but at the same time starting at the back of those B Mains it’s hard to advance out of them,” he said. “We were ok and we were able to move forward a few spots. We didn’t have any cautions after the first start and everyone strung out. I just tried to move around and learn as much as I could.”
Bruce Jr. ended with a 13th-place finish to cap the event.
“I definitely give myself an A,” he said. “Just making it into a B Main is a feat in itself. We were in the top 20 percent of all the people in that building. To have a chance at the Saturday A Main is something to be proud of.”
QUICK RESULTS –
Jan. 12 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – Heat race: 3 (3); Qualifier: 6 (10); B Main: 1 (2); Feature: 12 (18).
Jan. 16 – Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, Okla. – C Main: 1 (4); B Main: 13 (15).
SEASON STATS –
2 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 1 top 15, 1 top 20
MEDIA LINKS –
SPONSOR SPOTLIGHT – Wheeler Metals
Established in 1968, Wheeler Metals is a sheet metal business that offers a variety of products for professional and amateur builders. Wheeler Metals has three locations in Muskogee, Okla., Rogers, Ark., and Springfield, Mo. For more information, visit http://www.WheelerMetals.com.
“When I moved to the Tulsa area a few years back we built a brand new shop,” Bruce Jr. said. “We always strive as a race team to find the best products for the situation and that was no different selecting the company to build our building. Wheeler Metals was the perfect fit for our needs. From 10×10 pole barns to 100×100 full metal buildings, they have it all. I challenge anyone to find a building company that will work the customers’ needs like they do.”
Bruce Jr. would also like to thank Lincoln Electric, Budweiser, Schoenfeld Headers, FK Rod Ends, The Oil Medics, Hinchman Racewear, ButlerBuilt Professional Seat Systems, MyRacePass, FK Midwest, 13 Sins Garage, My Place BBQ, Tater Skinz and 3 Rivers Auto Collision for their continued support.