Kofoid Shuffles His Way To Chili Bowl Pole


Buddy Kofoid topped the Chili Bowl's new-look pole shuffle Saturday and will lead the field to green in the 55-lap finale. (Lucas Halbert photo)

TULSA, Okla. – In search of a breakthrough Chili Bowl Nationals powered by NOS Energy Drink victory, Buddy Kofoid will kick off his fourth championship feature appearance from the best seat in the house.

Kofoid carved his way through the #DoItForGrady Pole Shuffle presented by MPV Express 67 Speedway Saturday evening at Tulsa Expo Raceway, charging forward from the fourth seed to ultimately earn the pole position for the 55-lap, $20,000-to-win grand finale.

The 22-year-old native of Penngrove, Calif., marched through the final four time-attack pairings in the new-look Pole Shuffle en route to earning the top starting spot in what will be a 24-car field.

Kofoid ultimately defeated top-seeded Logan Seavey in the final round, with a lap of 12.264 seconds earning the pole over Seavey’s slower 12.337-second clip.

In recent years, the Pole Shuffle format had featured a sequence of four-car, four-lap races that eliminated the bottom two drivers each round until the final four drivers dueled to set the front two rows of the starting grid in the final stanza.

However, event officials altered the format this year in an effort to prevent equipment from being damaged for the top-10 teams prior to the main event inside the SageNet Center.

Saturday’s Pole Shuffle saw two drivers at a time on track, turning three laps per session, with the driver posting the fastest overall lap in the pair advancing to face the next highest-seeded driver among the 10 lock-ins from preliminary night competition.

Drivers were seeded from 10 to one via a blind draw following Friday’s final preliminary feature.

The move from a racing format to a time-trial format for this year’s Pole Shuffle appeared to benefit Kofoid, who was known as a prolific qualifier during his time with the USAC National Midget Series.

“My thought process the whole time was just ‘Gas it harder,’” Kofoid chuckled. “The car felt good, though. The worst part was that my Raceceiver (communication system) wasn’t working the whole time, so I didn’t know if I’d won the round or not. But when they kept pointing at me to keep going instead of pointing me off, I figured we were still in the thing.

“That last round, the car was a little evil for me, and I kept hitting the curb [in] the same place … but I felt like if I cheated it that I was just going to hit it harder,” Kofoid added. “I tried to get all the way up and keep hitting it more than I did [the time] before, and it ended up being good enough, obviously, to grab the pole. Super, super stoked with that.”

Kofoid had some past experience with a similar time-battle qualifying format from his past offseason time racing in New Zealand, but even he recognized that the Pole Shuffle was just the first step of his quest to try and check off a bucket-list victory in his young career.

“I had a really good one go my way in New Zealand a while back … and I thought to myself, ‘Man, if I could do that same thing again and go from like fifth to first, it’d be really cool.’ Sure enough, we were able to do just that,” Kofoid said.

“I would’ve just been happy to be on the inside row [starting third], but being on the pole for this particular race means a lot and it’s really cool,” he continued. “Beau (Binder, crew chief) and everyone did a really good job on our Keith Kunz Motorsports/Mobil 1 Toyota, but there’s still one more job to do.”

Defending Chili Bowl champion Seavey will join Kofoid on the front row of the feature lineup, with Tanner Carrick and Corey Day making up the second row of the grid and Hank Davis starting fifth after advancing from the first pairing as the ninth seed. Davis was ultimately defeated by Kofoid in pair six.

Spencer Bayston, who suffered a wicked flip in turn three during his Pole Shuffle run, will roll off sixth after repairs are made to his Sage Fruit No. 1s by the Matt Estep and Flea Ruzic-led RMS Racing crew.

Tanner Thorson, Ryan Timms, Shane Golobic and Jake Swanson fill out the top 10 starters.

Opening ceremonies for the nighttime portion of NOS Energy Drink Driller Day, featuring twin C-Features and twin B-Features before the headlining A-Feature event, kick off at 6:30 p.m. CT, live on FloRacing.

38th Chili Bowl Nationals; #DoItForGrady Pole Shuffle; Tulsa (Okla.) Expo Raceway; Jan. 13, 2024

Pole Shuffle (three-lap time attack): 1. 9-Hank Davis (12.159) def. 10-Jake Swanson (12.214); 2. 9-Hank Davis (11.988) def. 8-Shane Golobic (12.143); 3. 9-Hank Davis (12.041) def. 7-Ryan Timms (12.311); 4. 9-Hank Davis (11.944) def. 6-Tanner Thorson (12.108); 5. 9-Hank Davis (11.904) def. 5-Spencer Bayston (12.182); 6. 4-Buddy Kofoid (12.029) def. 9-Hank Davis (12.092); 7. 4-Buddy Kofoid (12.071) def. 3-Corey Day (12.201); 8. 4-Buddy Kofoid (12.033) def. 2-Tanner Carrick (12.216); 9. 4-Buddy Kofoid (12.264) def. 1-Logan Seavey (12.337).

NOS Energy Drink A-Feature Lineup (first five rows): 1. 71W-Buddy Kofoid, 2. 39-Logan Seavey, 3. 98-Tanner Carrick, 4. 41-Corey Day, 5. 29S-Hank Davis, 6. 1S-Spencer Bayston, 7. 88-Tanner Thorson, 8. 67-Ryan Timms, 9. 17W-Shane Golobic, 10. 55A-Jake Swanson.

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