NTT INDYCAR Series driver Santino Ferrucci turned in a strong debut in the prestigious Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma while fellow drivers Conor Daly and James Davison are on deck.
Ferrucci drove from 11th to fifth in Wednesday night’s C-Main race at Tulsa Expo Raceway, just missing advancement to the next round in the preliminary night won by Rico Abreu. The fifth-place finish was quite impressive for the versatile Ferrucci, who was competing in a midget race for the first time in his life.
“I thought I did really well,” said Ferrucci, coming off a successful 2019 rookie campaign with Dale Coyne Racing. “Before my heat I only had 10 (practice) laps, so obviously I knew I was going to struggle at times. But my heat was pretty stacked, so I don’t feel so bad.”
Davison, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter from Melbourne, Australia with plans to compete in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in 2020, is set to compete in Thursday’s preliminary round, Daly will race Friday night.
Daly, who will be handling the road/street course NTT INDYCAR Series schedule for Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 entry as well as a third team entry in the Indianapolis 500, will be making his second Chili Bowl appearance. He made his debut last year.
Davison only has turned a handful of laps in practice and, like Ferrucci, has minimal dirt-track experience. But Daly had a tip for both.
“I just started to get the hang of it by the end of the main event that I was in,” Daly said of last year’s event.
The three NTT INDYCAR Series drivers will be part of Saturday’s final rounds, although their starting positions are still to be determined. There are 360 drivers competing in this 34th edition of the Chili Bowl, representing 40 states and six countries. Among them are seven former Chili Bowl champions, plus NASCAR Cup standouts Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Larson was Tuesday’s overall winner, while Bell is the three-time defending champion of the event.
Ferrucci, Daly and Davison are driving with help from David Byrd, whose inspiration for supporting talented open-wheel drivers comes from his father, Jonathan, who helped Rich Vogler and Stan Fox compete in Indianapolis 500s. David Byrd also helped Bryan Clauson compete in the 500 in 2015 and ’16.
Weeknight action of the Chili Bowl can be viewed online by pay-per-view at racinboys.com. Saturday’s final feature races will air on the MAVTV Motorsports Network. Results can be found at chilibowl.com.