The annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals held each January at the River City Expo Center has become one of the biggest events of the season for the world of dirt track racing. This year’s filed included a record-setting 300 cars competing over the week-long event.
This year’s winner, Rico Abreu is a favorite of fans of Jacksonville Speedway having competed here numerous times during POWRi midget action. Abreu claimed the 2013 Herb Barlow Memorial in his Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota powered midget. In fact the top of the results were quite familiar to area fans with 5 of the top 6 finishers having raced at Jacksonville Speedway in 2014.
Canton’s Chris Windom had the best area finish with a 19th place finish in Saturday’s A-Main. Decatur’s Terry Babb found his way to the winner’s circle with a last lap pass in his Saturday B-Main. Babb would go on to finish 24 after spinning in the feature event.
Among the local entries:
Jake Neuman – New Berlin
Neuman who over the past few years has raced a Micro Sprint at Jacksonville before graduating to midget action turned some heads with exceptionally strong performances both on his qualifying night and in feature competition Saturday. Neuman climbed into the top 10 at one point during Saturday’s B-Main – just a few spots short of a transfer spot in his BRANDT sponsored entry. Mechanical issues would result in a 20th place B-Main finish. Neuman made the A-Main on his Tuesday qualifying run finishing with an impressive 7th place finish.
Joey Moughan – Springfield
Moughan, who was at the wheel of one of the Kenny Brown Racing entries, also came within striking distance of Saturday’s main event. The week started with Moughan racing to a 10th place finish on Tuesday’s Qualifying Night. That would position him in the 14th starting spot in one of Saturday’s B-Mains with the top 6 advancing. Moughan would improve a few spots finishing 12th, just six spots shy of the Main event.
Mike Hess – Riverton
Hess, a veteran of more than a decade of Chili Bowl action piloted his Chuck Johnson owned entry to a 21st place finish in Friday’s A-Main Qualifier. Friday’s finish would start him 7th in one of Saturday’s D-Mains. Hess fell back early in the race, but made what many consider to be the move of the week in the last corner to pass several cars to advance with a 6th place finish. Mechanical issues would strike at the start of the C-Main which ended his Saturday run.
Paul Nienhiser – Chapin
Nienhiser found himself behind the 8-ball in Thursday night qualifying having missed practice earlier in the week due to school obligations. Nienhiser’s qualifying night was spent with him getting comfortable in one of his first outings in a midget. Proving to be a quick learner, he played the alphabet soup game Saturday afternoon, claiming a K-Main feature win in his Tommy Casson owned Stealth. He would then advance to the J-Main where he would again earn a transfer position racing from 13th to 4th. The I-Main marked the end of the road for Nienhiser with a 14th place finish.