TULSA, Okla. – One night after the shock announcement that Kyle Larson would return to the Chili Bowl Nationals powered by NOS Energy Drink this week, another NASCAR star threw his hat back into the ring Wednesday evening.
Reigning Daytona 500 champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. revealed that he, too, will be back in action inside the SageNet Center during the 38th edition of the Super Bowl of Midget Racing.
An eight-time championship feature starter, Stenhouse will embark on his 17th Chili Bowl appearance during Friday’s Hard Rock Casino Qualifying Night program at Tulsa Expo Raceway.
Oddly enough, the Olive Branch, Miss., driver will do so in the same way Larson will – for Keith Kunz Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian – in part due to a conversation with Larson on Wednesday morning.
“I was texting with [Kyle] Larson, telling him, ‘[At] the same time you were trying to get your deal together, I was trying to get a deal together,’ and he said to call Keith [Kunz],” Stenhouse explained during an interview with FloRacing. “I’ve run for Keith one other time at the Chili Bowl, and I didn’t really perform the way I wanted to, so I wasn’t sure if he would let me back in one of his cars.
“Luckily, though, I shot him a text, and Keith said, ‘Let me get on that,’ so here we are,” Stenhouse added. “Obviously, Keith has the best cars out there, and they show every night, so I’m looking forward to getting back in a midget at the Expo [Center] to see what we can do.”
According to FloRacing, Stenhouse’s initial plan was to drive a second car for Justin Grant during this year’s Chili Bowl, but time simply worked against Grant and Stenhouse in their efforts to get a deal done.
After his text to Larson and call to Kunz, Stenhouse found just the right set of circumstances to make a late comeback to one of his favorite events after a one-year hiatus.
“Really looking forward to getting back to Chili Bowl. Obviously, took last year off and I missed it,” Stenhouse noted. “I was sitting on the couch watching this week, and my wife looked at me and said, ‘I can tell you really want to go; just go.’”
A three-time top-10 finisher in the Chili Bowl finale, Stenhouse’s career-best Saturday result of seventh came during the 2021 edition with Clauson-Marshall Racing.
Stenhouse will wheel the NOS Energy Drink No. 71r LynK Chassis entry during Friday night’s program.
Every lap of this year’s Chili Bowl Nationals can be streamed live through FloRacing.
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