Each January hundreds of open wheel midget drivers flock to Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Quik Trip Center for the Chili Bowl, a five day event that takes place on a 1/5th of a mile bullring. Touted as “The race” to win, the field is stacked with USAC, NASCAR, and even NHRA talent in a bid to win a replica of the Golden Driller in front of the stadium. This year, freestyle legend Brian Deegan threw his hat in the ring and competed under the Lucas Oil/Rockstar Energy/Kruseman Racing banner. We caught up with Brian to see how his week was going after his Friday night qualifier.
Brian, you’re out in Tulsa running a midget at the Chili Bowl. This is a big change up from motocross and short course racing, how do you like it?
The Chili Bowl is cool, it’s my first year here so I have to step back and learn all the tricks and tips. There is a deal to this sport, and for me to have a great ride with Cory Kruseman is great. It’s fun to go out there even though I had some bad luck. Someone spun out and I had no where to go, and I broke a shock when I hit him. In the last chance qualifier I went from last to one spot away from a transfer, so I think it’s a matter of time to get better. I have to focus and take it seriously, instead of just jumping in a car. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow, but I know this will make me a better driver in trucks and then stock cars later on next year.
How did this deal come about?
Through Lucas Oil. They sponsor me for truck racing and dirt bikes, and they came to me a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to do it.
Have you much time behind the wheel?
No, no time. All the time I’ve had in one is now, so what you see is what you get (Laughs). I’ve done lots of sports, failed at some and succeeded at others, but I think I can get it in time. I’ve made some passes and beat some dudes, so I feel good about it. We’ll see how it goes next year.
You’ve raced in numerous disciplines this year, rally, trucks, and now this. Where do you rank the three in difficulty?
I would say this is really intense. In truck racing, you have synchronized slides and some bumping in a few turns. Here, it’s every turn. I think it’ll make me more aggressive and precise. You have to time everything and set shit up way before it happens. It’s a different kind of driving, but it’ll make me a better racer.
You also have to avoid contact, without fenders the front end is open to damage.
I’ve already smashed into two people, and both times my car has broken. In the LCQ I was driving with a flat left front tire, but I ran it as a big circle and kept it off the ground. The yellows were killing me, because the wheel is rubbing the tire and the tire could come off and I’ll be done. Somehow the tire made it and I still passed guys.
Onto this stock car deal. What are the details to that?
I have a deal with Ford and with Chip Ganassi, so we just have to see what I’m going to do. I have a development deal and I should be racing in the Nationwide Series by the end of the year. It’s really just me wanting to smoke Pastrana.
That rivalry will never die?
That’ll never die. He thinks he’s the man, but I always seem to shut him down once in a while (Laughs).
Deegan started in the “I” main on Saturday, finishing 4th and making the transfer to the “H” main. His weekend ended there as he finished 3 spots away from a transfer in 9th.