Michael Pickens finished fourth in the Monday Night Preliminary Chili Bowl A-Main which should give the eight-time NZ Champion a B-Main start on Saturday and a prime opportunity to make the 24 car Final.
Pickens made his first Chili Bowl appearance in 2005 where he finished sixth. Of his eight previous visits to Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Tulsa Expo Raceway his best finish was in 2011 where he finished third.
This year he is driving a New Zealand designed King Chassis that matches his familiar ride at home. This same car he has also campaigned several times State side already last season.
Pickens started seventh and finished third in his heat bagging additional passing points over the over 70 entries competing. He then went onto win his qualifier from grid five making him a top point’s earner, and a fifth position start in the 30-Lap Prelim A-Main.
The top two drivers in A-Main prelims on the 5 Qualifying nights are locked directly into the Saturday Night 55-Lap, A-Main’s first 10 grids.
Pickens started fifth with recent New Zealand visitor and current USAC National Midget Champion Tyler Courtney seond and Oklahoma native and young talent Cannon McIntosh starting on pole. Aaron Reutzel, fresh off of winning a second consecutive ASCS (American Sprint Car Series Winged 410) Championship third, with 25-year-old NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Chase Briscoe in fourth.
In the early stages, McIntosh took the lead however Rueutzel was the first to get the top working and took the lead as Pickens settled into fourth behind Courtney and tried the top and bottom grooves, settling for the top and closing in.
Reutzel caught the tail of the field and threw slide-job amongst them ending in his car stopped and forced to restart last handing the lead to McIntosh.
Now on Courtney’s bumper for the restart, Pickens harassed the Clauson Marshall Racing driver for 3rd throughout a multitude of restarts that ensued sliding in front on several occasions and showing his nose.
As they crossed the line for the 30th time McIntosh and Courtney had locked themselves into the big race with Reutzel pipping Pickens for third on the second to last lap.
This puts Pickens in the second row of one Saturdays twin B-Main 20 Lap races where the top seven finishers in each B-Main fill the final 14 Championship.
To watch the Chili Bowl Preliminary day races live and on demand visit http://www.racinboys.com