TULSA, Okla. — Veteran car owner Keith Kunz saw his streak of five straight Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals victories end last year, but he’s ready to go on a new run.
His winning ways might just be renewed next month, too, as Kunz is bringing a host of talent to the River Spirit Expo Center for the 35th edition of the event, Jan. 11-16.
Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports finalized its 10-car lineup for the Chili Bowl on Thursday, including a two-time winner of the event, a reigning preliminary-night winner, the reigning Chili Bowl Rookie of the Year and a mix of talented veterans and rookies.
The KKM armada is spearheaded by Rico Abreu, who won the Chili Bowl in back-to-back years for the team in 2015 and ’16, and teenagers Buddy Kofoid and Cannon McIntosh, who combined for a preliminary-night win (McIntosh) and top rookie honors (Kofoid) last January.
While Abreu didn’t run regularly with KKM last season, Kofoid and McIntosh did, combining to earn five USAC and 10 POWRi victories.
That power trio will also be joined by a pair of female racers in Kaylee Bryson and Holley Hollan.
Bryson raced full time with KKM in 2020 and contended for several victories between USAC and POWRi action, while Hollan is returning to dirt midget racing after running the majority of the ARCA Menards Series West slate with Bill McAnally Racing.
Returning to KKM after a year spent racing elsewhere are California’s Tanner Carrick and Kansas’ Tucker Klaasmeyer. Carrick raced for Petry Motorsports in midget competition, while Klaasmeyer predominately raced 410 sprint cars in the Midwest.
Sixteen-year-old rookies Daison Pursley and Jesse Love will both make their Chili Bowl debuts with KKM, while Brian Carber will also make his first run at the Super Bowl of Midget Racing after winning his ride during the KKM Giveback Classic in November.
Kunz realizes it’s a young lineup.
Seven of the 10 drivers are under 20 years of age, a tall task for an event that traditionally rewards veterans at the end of the week.
However, it’s a team packed with talent across multiple disciplines and walks of motorsports, and that’s what has the Chili Bowl stalwart fired up about his prospects at claiming a record-extending ninth Golden Driller trophy as a car owner.
“We’re really excited about the team we’re bringing to the Chili Bowl next month,” said Kunz. “A lot of people felt like we weren’t going to be as strong outdoors this past year because of the young guys we had on our team and I feel like we proved them wrong in a lot of ways. Buddy and Cannon were obviously very strong and Daison, Jesse and Kaylee were right there with them at times by the end of the year.
“Bringing Rico back, we always know that we can race for wins with him, and it’s exciting to have Tucker, Holley and Tanner all returning under our umbrella as well for another Chili Bowl,” Kunz continued. “They’ve all been a part of our team in the past and we feel like they’ll be able to jump right back in when we get to Tulsa next month. When you add in (Brian) Carber to that mix, who earned his ride with us after his win at Millbridge (Speedway), there’s a lot of different stories and a lot of great things to keep an eye on.
“We can’t wait to get back to Tulsa and get to work chasing another Chili Bowl win.”