Chad Boat would like to follow in his dad's footsteps, and he took the first step toward that goal with a Chili Bowl preliminary feature win at the Expo Center on Friday night.
Boat, the son of 1997 Chili Bowl champion Billy Boat, roared off the pole and survived five yellow-flag restarts to win his first preliminary over two-time Chili Bowl champion Cory Kruseman and Dave Darland. All three will transfer into Saturday's finale. Twelve drivers are now locked into the 55-lap championship race.
The chance to finally race in Saturday's feature meant a lot to Boat.
"It is really special," said Chad Boat of his victory. "I have been coming here for seven years, and I have only made the A (feature) once. Every other year has been a disappointment, for sure."
Levi Jones chased Boat early but gave way to Darland on lap 11. Boat was running the low groove and Darland gave chase but was unable to challenge. Following a lap 16 restart, Boat moved to the top of the track as did Darland.
"I knew the bottom was going away and I thought I saw Dave Darland out of the corner of my eye. When the yellow came out, my dad pointed me up high so I thought I would take his line away."
The move worked as Darland also moved up but could not pass.
Meanwhile, Kruseman charged into third on lap 23 just before the last yellow waved. On the restart, Kruseman powered past Darland for second with one lap remaining.
It was quite a comeback for Kruseman, who turned his car over in his qualifier and suffered other mechanical problems.
"We went out in the heat race and ran into the fence, then went out in the qualifier and I don't know what I did there," recalled Kruseman. "I turned it over and ripped the battery. We got every break we could possibly get to be able to work on it twice and still run second.
"I have said a hundred times sitting at this table if you don't have Chili Bowl luck you are just one of the other 260 cars."
The top 12 qualifiers drew for position after the feature event. Sammy and Kevin Swindell will start side-by-side in their quest to give the family a fifth straight win. Tuesday night winner Kyle Larson will start inside the second row.
Alex Schutte passed Tulsan Brandon Hahn on lap four and raced to victory in the first 15-lap B feature.
Hahn led the first two laps before Schutte pulled alongside. Hahn later faded to fourth as Daniel Robinson and Ryan Bernal moved into second and third. All four transferred into the A qualifier.
Tim Barber led all 15 laps to win the second B over Derrick Myers and Brett Felkins. Kevin Bayer, who transferred in from the C main, finished in the fourth and final transfer position.
A Main: 1, Chad Boat, Phoenix, Ariz. 2, Cory Kruseman, Ventura, Calif. 3, Dave Darland, Lincoln, Neb. 4, Billy Wease, Noblesville, Ind. 5, Trevor Kobylarz, Birdsboro, Pa. 6, Jason Meyers, Clovis, Calif. 7, Daryn Pittman, Owasso. 8, Justin Allgaier, Riverton, Ill. 9, Austin Brown, Millstadt, Ill. 10, Ryan Bernal, Holliser, Calif.
B Main 1: 1, Alex Schutte, Redding, Calif. 2, Daniel Robinson, Mt. Vernon, Ill. 3, Ryan Bernal, Hollister, Calif. 4, Brandon Hahn, Tulsa. 5, Chris Coker, Wylie, Texas. 6, Jesse Frazier, Tulsa. 7, Chase Barber, Morgan Hill, Calif. 8, Kyle Steffens, St. Charles, Mo. 9, Chase Stockon, Sullivan, Ind. 10, Joey Fabozzi, Norco, Calif.
B Main 2: 1, Tim Barber, Sonoma, Calif. 2, Derrick Myers, Stonington, Ill. 3, Brett Felkins, Lodi, Calif. 4, Kevin Bayer, Tulsa. 5, Taylor Simas, Orland, Calif. 6, Rick Hendrix, Palmdale, Calif. 7, Levi Roberts, Broomfield, Colo. 8, Michael Koontz, Bloomington, Ind. 9, Garrett Aitken, Paris, Ill. 10, Joe Rammer, Boise, Idaho.
C Main 1: 1, Chase Barber, Morgan Hill, Calif. 2, Glenn Styres, Canada. 3, Ryan Bernal, Hollister, Calif. 4, Mike Boesel, Bennett, Colo. 5, Billy Lawhead, Imperial, Mo.
C Main 2: 1, Cody Darrah, Red Lion, Pa. 2, Pat Study, Springfield, Mo. 3, Kevin Bayer, Tulsa. 4, Derrick Myers, Stonington, Ill. 5, Eric Fenton, Jenks.
Qualifier Winners: Ronnie Gardner, Corona Calif., Bubba Altig, Mechanicsburg, Ill., Chad Boat, Phoenix, Ariz., Levi Jones, Olney, Ill.
Heat Winners: Jason Meyers, Clovis, Calif., Levi Jones, Olney, Ill., Chase Stockon, Sullivan, Ind., Austin Brown, Millstadt, Ill, Trevor Kobylarz, Birdsboro, Pa., Daniel Robinson, Mt. Vernon, Ill., Chris Coker, New Braunfels, Texas., Justin Allgaier, Riverton, Ill.