CHILI BOWL NOTES: Bayston Charges To Sixth

Spencer Bayston (19) finished sixth on Thursday during the Chili Bowl Nationals. (Frank Smith photo)

TULSA, Okla. – Though a penalty hampered him early on, Spencer Bayston put on a rally during Thursday’s John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night feature to give himself a shot going into Saturday.

Bayston was put to the tail for a green-white-checkered finish in his heat race, after making contact with Michelle Decker that sent Decker spinning on the backstretch.

He still scraped out enough points to make the qualifiers, but Bayston’s real rallies came after the heats, when he went from ninth to fourth in his qualifier and then came from the eighth row in the 30-lap feature all the way up to a sixth-place finish.

The most notable showing of the speed in Bayston’s No. 19b Hayward Motorsports midget came in the early moments of the feature, when Bayston stormed from 15th to eighth in the first four laps.

From there, it was a matter of picking his moves when they appeared for Bayston, who put himself solidly into a B-main for Saturday’s championship program.

“We could be (sitting) a lot better, but we for sure definitely could have ended up a whole lot worse,” Bayston noted. “I don’t think we really found anything in the future; we’ve been this good and this fast all week. It’s just silly things, I feel like, that keep happening and putting us behind. I rolled out for the feature and I knew we were going to have a car that could go forward. Some of the guys in front of me, at the start of the feature, kind of paved the way for me. That helped out a little bit.

“Once we got to open track, I was able to run down the leaders pretty quick. But just through traffic, I never had that open door that I really needed,” Bayston added. “But man, yeah, we were fast. It’s unfortunate that we had to have something like what happened in the heat race that ended up putting us so far behind. I think without that, I think we could have had a really, really solid night.”

– Much like Bayston, Cole Bodine had to put on a rally to keep himself from being buried too deeply in the alphabet soup for Saturday night, but instead of in the feature, Bodine’s charge came in his qualifier.

After barely making the qualifiers as the 37th-highest man in points, Bodine came from last all the way to second, ripping the top side of the temporary fifth-mile dirt oval to advance past car after car.

That run catapulted Bodine to seventh in points, and while his run in the feature didn’t work out as well and he ended up 22nd in the final rundown, Bodine was still pleased with what many people in the pits dubbed “the drive of the week” to-date.

“We had fun in that qualifier, man; it was a struggle in the heat race, but we got it right after that,” Bodine said. “I just had to finesse the No. 39bc Driven2SaveLives Spike/SR11x around the top and man, she ripped. It was pretty cool coming up through there. The feature, I just drove her in a little too hard and got turned around. It was a rookie mistake. We’re not in a horrible spot for Saturday, so we’ll see.”

– In the continuing fan debate on whether Christopher Bell or Kyle Larson is the better driver, runner-up Thomas Meseraull had his two cents to offer following Thursday night’s 30-lap preliminary feature.

“Christopher Bell is one of the best, if not the best, drivers in this sport,” Meseraull noted. “I think Larson’s better by a lot, but you know, like Bell’s a bad-ass, man. He’s good at what he does.”

Of note, both Larson (Tuesday) and Bell (Thursday) won their preliminary night features this week, while Bell also won the Vacuwox Invitational Race of Champions and has won the last three Chili Bowl finales.

– Both Swindell SpeedLab entries – the No. 1 of Sammy Swindell and the No. 39 of Logan Seavey – are now locked into B-mains for Saturday’s program.

Swindell ran fifth in his preliminary feature on Wednesday night, while Seavey one-upped the three-time World of Outlaws sprint car champion with a fourth-place finish on Thursday night.

– He led the first two laps on Thursday night, but Shane Golobic couldn’t replicate the same performance that his Matt Wood Racing teammate Colby Copeland put on from 24 hours earlier.

Golobic faded back to fifth in the No. 17w NOS Energy Drink machine, putting himself in the middle of a B-main for the finale after Copeland locked into the 55-lap A-main with a runner-up effort to Rico Abreu.

– Driving for former Chili Bowl winning car owner Andy Bondio, Danny Stratton was perhaps the biggest name who failed to make Thursday night’s feature field.

Finishing fifth in his B-main, Stratton will have to come from deep in an E-main on Saturday if he wants to give Bondio a fourth Chili Bowl title.

Bondio won his first Golden Driller as a car owner in 1991 with legendary driver Lealand McSpadden, and added two more Drillers in 2000 and 2004 with California’s Cory Kruseman at the controls.

– The World Wide Technology Raceway Flip Count stands at 49 through four nights of action, with the most spectacular flip on Thursday coming on lap one of the first heat race.

In that event, Jessie Barber went for a wild ride in turn four, coming to rest in a cloud of steam and smoke but climbing out uninjured after a couple of rolls through the high side of the corner.

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