Logos for Tony Stewart's Chili Bowl etnry - Courtesy Tony Stewart RacingEnlarge Photo
Tony Stewart isn't sitting still between copping his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and mounting a title defense in his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.
No, Smoke raced at the IMIS invitational NASCAR vs INDYCAR kart race--and won.
Now he's got his sights set on a third Golden Driller trophy in the 26th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, which begin January 10th.
Stewart will be part of a four-car Team of Champions assault on this seminal midget contest inside the QuikTrip Center at Tulsa Expo Racing in Oklahoma. His teammates are 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Serires champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 2011 United States Auto Club (USAC) National Drivers titleholder (for a second straight time) Bryan Clauson and 2011 POWRi Rookie of the Year Jake Blackhurst.
It's a four-car Team of Champions against everyone else.
The last time Stewart competed at Tulsa was in 2008, when he finished eighth in the A-main finals. After a three-year hiatus, he felt the need to return with a No. 14 Chevrolet/Spike with sponsorship from Chevrolet Performance Parts. He's dubbed the special edition, black/carbon-fiber entry "Back in Black" and is hoping to give Chevrolet its second Chili Bowl triumph in a race that's been Esslinger/Ford territory of late.
Clauson, 22, will drive a No. 39c Esslinger/Spike INDYCAR/Indy 500 race car for co-entrants Corey Tucker Racing (CTR), Bryan Clauson, Inc (BCI).and Curb/Agajanian Racing. A four-time USAC champ, Clauson has made two A-main starts with a best finish of fourth in 2008. Clauson won a second straight INDYCAR scholarship for his USAC National Drivers championship; he's hoping for a full season of Indy Lights and, perhaps, an Indianapolis 500 start.
Stenhouse Jr., the newly-minted NASCAR Nationwide titleholder competes for the Team of Champions in a No. 39i Esslinger/Spike with Curb Records sponsorship and an entry from CTR/BCI/Curb-Agajanian, as he looks for his first Golden Driller. While he spent only a short period of time in the USAC Nttional Midget ranks, Stenhouse Jr has five race wins and took 2007 Rookie of the Year honors. He has a sole A-main start in this prestigious mid-winter event.
Blackhurst has a No. 39b Esslinger/Spike Kitchen Cooked entry for the combined CTR/BCI team, looking for his first Chili Bowl start and trying to be the event's Rookie of the Year. Only 16 years old, Blackhurst took the 2010 USAC Ford Focus Midget Midwest Pavement championship before earning this year's POWRi rookie honors.
For more information on the 2012 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl MIdget Nationals, visit: www.chilibowl.com.
© 2011 Anne Proffit