2024 Chili Bowl Nationals

What NASCAR Drivers Are Competing At The Chili Bowl?

What NASCAR Drivers Are Competing At The Chili Bowl?

Breaking down the competitors at the Chili Bowl Nationals who have ties to NASCAR.

Jan 3, 2024 by Rob Blount
What NASCAR Drivers Are Competing At The Chili Bowl?

The Chili Bowl Nationals presented by NOS Energy Drink is considered the “Super Bowl of Midget Racing” but it’s more than that. It’s also racing’s international melting pot. Drivers from all over the world and all different disciplines and types of cars head to Tulsa, Oklahoma each January to race inside a building, including many from the world of NASCAR.

There’s plenty of NASCAR connections at this year’s Chili Bowl Nationals, and the list is headlined by a winner in the NASCAR Cup Series in Chase Briscoe. 

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is no stranger to the Tulsa Expo Raceway inside of the SageNet Center. This year’s Chili Bowl will be Briscoe’s ninth attempt to win a Golden Driller. Briscoe has made the Saturday night A-Main once throughout his eight attempts back in 2017. He flipped that year and finished 22nd. 

But Briscoe has two other chances at winning a Golden Driller this year as he’s just one part of his three-man Chase Briscoe Racing team. Briscoe will be joined by Mason City, Illinois’ Karter Sarff, who is still looking to make his first Saturday A-Main, as well as dirt Modified and Late Model standout, Kyle Strickler. The man known as “The Highside Tickler” is making his first Chili Bowl attempt this year with Briscoe.

Briscoe will race on Monday’s Cummins Qualifying Night, while Sarff will compete during Tuesday’s Warren CAT Qualifying Night, and Strickler will be in action during Thursday’s Victory Fuel Qualifying Night.

Briscoe won’t be the only high-profile Cup Series driver in the SageNet Center this year, but he will be the only one driving. Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports returns to the Chili Bowl this year, but he won’t be behind the wheel. Following his back injury in a Sprint Car in early 2023, Bowman has made the decision to step away from dirt racing for the foreseeable future.

But even though he won’t be racing, Bowman still will have three chances to win a Driller this year as a car owner. His Alex Bowman Racing stable consists of CJ Leary, Jake Swanson, and Kevin Thomas Jr. 

Leary, from Greenfield, Indiana, will be in action during Thursday’s preliminary racing. Leary has made the A-Main five times with three of those starts coming behind the wheel of an ABR car. Leary’s best finish was seventh in 2022.

Anaheim, California’s Jake Swanson will be racing during Wednesday’s York Plumbing Qualifying Night action. This will be Swanson’s third Chili Bowl racing for Bowman. He has one A-Main start under his belt. That came in 2017 when he finished fifth, but he’s still looking for his first A-Main start for ABR.

Rounding out the Alex Bowman Racing stable is Cullman, Alabama’s Kevin Thomas Jr. “KTJ” replaces Bowman in the 55X this year. Thomas has made the A-Main three times with a best finish of eighth coming in 2022. He finished 12th in last year’s Chili Bowl.

Arizona’s J.J. Yeley will be competing at the Chili Bowl for the 28th time this year while he continues to chase his first Golden Driller. Yeley has come so close on multiple occasions, finishing third in 2004, second in 2007, and fifth in 2009. Yeley, has driven in the Cup Series the last few years for Rick Ware Racing, is looking to return to the A-Main for the ninth time in his career and first time since 2015.

Yeley isn’t the only driver with ties to Rick Ware Racing that will be at the Chili Bowl either. Former Rick Ware Racing driver Josh Bilicki will be in competition at the Chili Bowl Nationals for the second year in a row. Bilicki, who ran a partial Cup Series schedule in 2023 for Live Fast Motorsports, will be racing during Friday’s prelim night action.

The last driver with ties to the NASCAR Cup Series that will be in action this week at the Chili Bowl is Bixby, Oklahoma’s Tanner Berryhill. Berryhill made two Cup starts in 2018 and has numerous NASCAR Xfinity Series starts throughout the last decade-plus. Berryhill will be racing on Wednesday night in the No. 2B for Dan and Patricia Harris and he’ll be doing so with a broken left foot that he recently suffered.

Since we just mentioned the NASCAR Xfinity Series, that brings us to our next driver to highlight, California’s Jesse Love. The reigning ARCA Menards Series champion is jumping straight to the Xfinity Series with Richard Childress Racing where he is taking over for the departing Sheldon Creed in their No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro in 2024. Love has run the last two Chili Bowls but failed to make the A-Main both times. This year he’ll be racing for Chad Boat Industries during Thursday’s prelim action.

Carmel, Indiana’s Dillon Welch will attempt his 12th Chili Bowl Nationals this year. Welch, a broadcaster for MRN and NBC for NASCAR, IndyCar, and IMSA, has made the Saturday A-Main twice throughout his career, which is rather impressive considering he hasn’t run a full season in any type of car in nearly 15 years. Welch’s most recent A-Main appearance came in 2022 when he started 22nd and finished 22nd. Welch’s prelim night will be Wednesday night.

And finally, we now turn our attention to a rookie driver at the Chili Bowl this year named George Loux. Originally from New Jersey, Loux now calls Maiden, North Carolina home where he works full-time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as a mechanic for the Tricon Garage team (formerly DGR-Crosley). Loux won three Carolina Sprint Tour races in 2023 at Sumter Speedway (twice) and Smoky Mountain Speedway. Loux will be in action during Tuesday’s prelim action.

When Is Chili Bowl 2024?

The 2024 edition of the Chili Bowl Nationals will be the 38th edition of the event known as the “Super Bowl of Midget Racing.” The Chili Bowl Nationals will be held January 7-13 with racing taking place each night beginning on Monday, January 8 and concluding with the 55-lap main event on Saturday, January 13.

How To Watch The Chili Bowl Nationals

The entire Chili Bowl Nationals will be broadcast live exclusively on FloRacing for FloRacing subscribers. Fans can subscribe to FloRacing by clicking here.