Thorson fourth at Chili Bowl Nationals
January 18, 2018
Tanner Thorson scored a fourth-place finish and numerous awards following his debut for the Dooling Hayward Motorsports/Richard Childress Racing No. 63 team, with partner Over Kill Motorsports, at the 2018 Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla.
Thorson, 21, a Minden native who now resides in Columbus, Ind., collected two Jason Leffler "Elbows Up" awards, after Thursday's efforts and Saturday's top-five finish, as well as the "Hard Charger" award for the second consecutive year.
"This No. 63 team worked incredibly hard this week. We found ourselves in a tough spot at the beginning of the night Thursday, but we made the best of it. The entire team never gave up on me," Thorson stated.
After a rough beginning to Thursday's qualifying night, including a DNF in the heat race due to a loose oil line, Thorson and team found themselves in the D main, where they would begin to attempt to race their way into the night's main event.
Thorson won the D main from the third position and ultimately transferred to the 15th spot in the C main, where only the top-four finishing cars would go on to the B main. The No. 63 was on the move as Thorson went on to win the C main and earn the 13th starting position in the B main. Only a top-four finish or better in the B main would gift Thorson a spot in the main event.
Thorson passed nine cars, finishing fourth in the B main, and punched his ticket to Thursday's A Main. With his eyes on the front, Thorson drove to the 11th position from 23rd, tallying a total of 37 cars passed throughout the night.
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Thorson was then awarded the Jason Leffler "Elbows Up" plaque for Thursday's preliminary events.
"I'm proud of the effort from everyone on this team. Coming from the D main and finishing 11th in the feature was unbelievable. Rusty (Kunz) had the car set up perfectly. To win an award named after Jason Leffler means a lot and it's all because of this Dooling Hayward Motorsports/Richard Childress Racing team and their hard work and determination," Thorson added.
Come Saturday evening, Thorson and team still had work to do if they wanted a spot in the big show.
Thorson started on the pole of the C main (based off of the 11th place finish Thursday), where the top six finishers would transfer to the back of the B main. Thorson won the C Main and then took the 15th starting spot in the B main, where, again, only the top six cars would have a chance to move on and lock into the feature event.
Advancing through the "alphabet soup" appeared to be an easy task for Thorson as he drove by 12 cars in the B main, finishing third, and allowed his team to advance and compete for a shot at the $10,000 check.
From the 17th starting position, Thorson drove a hard race, passing 13 cars in 55 laps, and ultimately finished fourth for the third time in his career, and second year in a row. The fourth-place finish was enough for Thorson to receive the 2018 Chili Bowl Nationals "Hard Charger" award and the overall Jason Leffler "Elbows Up" award for passing a total of 62 cars throughout the week.
"I'm really happy we could end what started out to be a stressful week with a top-five. I can't thank this team enough for believing in me and giving me a great car every time I hit the track. I also owe a huge thank you to Over Kill Motorsports for partnering with us and supporting our efforts at Chili Bowl. I'm hoping one of these years I can start closer to the front of the field. Overall, I think our debut as a team turned some heads," Thorson concluded.
Thorson also received the 2017 National Midget Driver of the Year award during Saturday's opening ceremonies, joining the late Bryan Clauson as the only two drivers to win the award three times.
The Dooling Hayward Motorsports/Richard Childress Racing No. 63 will be back in action soon, with race dates to be released upon finalization.
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