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Lonnie Wheatley – TULSA, Okla. (January 9, 2003) – Scott Hatton made a long-awaited return to the Tulsa Expo Raceway’s Chili Bowl Nationals victory lane, leading wire-to-wire to claim the Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Thursday Night Thunder at the Bowl 25-lap qualifying feature victory.

Hatton, who won the second running of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in 1988, earned the pole starting position for Thursday night’s 22-car feature by coming from seventh to win the fourth heat. As the green flag flew, Hatton got the jump on fellow front row starter Jeremy Sherman to take command early.

Sherman trailed Hatton by several car-lengths in the early going, with Randy Koch, Luke Icke and Greg Lueckert pursuing the lead duo. Hatton’s machine began to miss soon after a lap five caution for Damion Gardner, who came to a stop in turn two.

Sensing the opportunity, Sherman intensified his challenges for the lead, with Hatton utilizing the low-groove to perfection to maintain the lead. Sherman’s bid for the lead came to an end on the 13th round when he spun in turn one.

Hatton survived another pair of cautions over the final half of the race, including a lap 21 tangle that collected eight cars in turn three, including top ten contenders Ron Gregory, Ray Bull and Kenny Lewis. Unaffected, Hatton kept the Miller Lite Mopar-powered Stealth in front to the checkered flag, holding a five car-length advantage at the stripe.

Koch, who took over second when Sherman spun, held second at the finish in Bill Ecker’s Gaerte-powered Kunz, with Icke claiming third in his Singer-powered Ellis in his first ever visit to the Chili Bowl. Lueckert snared the fourth and final transfer position to Saturday night’s 17th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals main event.

P.J. Jones rounded out the top five, with Brad Kuhn in sixth. Gardner recovered from his early incident to claim seventh, with Shane Matthews turning in the feature’s top passing performance by coming from 18th to finish eighth. David Camfield, Jr., and Blake Feese completed the top ten.

Heat race victories for the 67-car field were claimed by Gardner, Sherman, Kuhn, Hatton, Shane Hollingsworth, Wally Pankratz, Lueckert, Kevin Doty and Jones. Camfield and Craig Carey topped the 12-lap B Features, with Critter Malone and David Rosales winning the 10-lap C Features.

Tracy Hines, one of the pre-race favorites, was involved in a lap nine turn three tangle, then exited the race after 21 laps when the rear brake area ignited under a caution period. Sherman was the race’s only other casualty, leaving the track at the same time with a flat left rear tire.

J.J. Yeley's Chili Bowl championship hopes took a severe blow when his motor expired on the second round in his heat race, bringing an early end to his night.

Josh Lakatos needed only seven rounds to charge from seventh into the lead en route to winning the 15-lap Ford Focus feature. Lakatos overtook Chad DeSelle on the seventh round, then held off Chris Rahe and Tyler Brown over the final rounds. Derek Mungor crossed the stripe fourth, with DeSelle rounding out the top five.


Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Thursday Night Thunder at the Bowl Results:

First Heat (10 Laps): 1. #8m Damion Gardner, Concord, CA; 2. #20w Cody Weisensel, Sun Prairie, WI; 3. #28 Matt Brun, New Carlile, OH; 4. #8b Murray Erickson, Odessa, TX; 5. #21x Derek Davidson, Indianapolis, IN; 6. #33az David Rosales, Glendale, AZ; 7. #17m Mario Marietta, Clinton, IN; 8. #1f Mike Fulper, Cumberland, OH.

Second Heat (10 Laps): 1. #3 Jeremy Sherman, Phoenix, AZ; 2. #2I Luke Icke, Littleton, CO; 3. #02 Shane Matthews, Marysville, CA; 4. #51 Ryan Durst, Lincoln, NE; 5. #63n Rex Norris III, Knightstown, IN; 6. #0x Johnny Murdock, Kaufman, TX; 7. #21 Aaron Andruskevitch, Riverton, IL. DNS: #4b Roger Branson, Jr., Riverton, IL.

Third Heat (10 Laps): 1. #67 Brad Kuhn, Avon, IN; 2. #22 Ron Gregory, Noblesville, IN; 3. #0 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, TN; 4. #12c Rick England, Wichita, KS; 5. #71r Keith Rauch, Edgewater, CO; 6. #57 Brian Brown, Higginsville, MO; 7. #32f Dave Fuhrman, Avon, IN; 8. #8x Butch Middleton, Erie, CO.

Fourth Heat (10 Laps): 1. #15h Scott Hatton, Roscoe, IL; 2. #5d Kenny Lewis, Wheatridge, CO; 3. #7c Cole Carter, Brownsburg, IN; 4. #6 Randy Fiscus, Monona, WI; 5. #41 Josh Ford, Oxnard, CA; 6. #31v Rick Vaughn, Indianapolis, IN; 7. #10t Toby Alfrey, Miamisburg, OH.

Fifth Heat (10 Laps): 1. #85 Shane Hollingsworth, Indianapolis, IN; 2. #57k Randy Koch, Oregon, WI; 3. #30c Craig Carey, Springfield, IL; 4. #78 Tim Crawley, Mabelvale, AR; 5. #16f Chad Farmer, Colorado Springs, CO; 6. #50 Roland Ayo, Houston, TX; 7. #7t Jimmy McVay, Lees Summit, MO; 8. #24 J.J. Yeley, Phoenix, AZ.

Sixth Heat (10 Laps): 1. #8p Wally Pankratz, Orange, CA; 2. #11 Tracy Hines, Greenfield, IN; 3. #19w Mike Woodring, Eden, NY; 4. #0h Jesse Hockett, Warsaw, MO; 5. #5m Mike Neher, Logansport, IN; 6. #26 Glenn Carson, Newark, CA. DNS: #67n Randy Nigg, Colorado Springs, CO.

Seventh Heat (10 Laps): 1. #01 Greg Lueckert, Kansas City, MO; 2. #22m Ray Bull, Bloomsburg, PA; 3. #32 Blake Feese, Saybrook, IL; 4. #49 Bryan Kobylarz, Birasboro, PA; 5. #7 Critter Malone, Speedway, IN; 6. #43 Chris Coers, Columbus, IN. DNS: #10 Andy Pierce, Plainfield, IN..

Eighth Heat (10 Laps): 1. #2 Kevin Doty, Milan, IL; 2. #86c David Camfield, Jr., Decatur, IL; 3. #55 Tony Everhart, El Cajon, CA; 4. #10b Bill Baue, Indianapolis, IN; 5. #61a Toby Brown, Carthage, MO; 6. #6L Eddie Leavitt, Knoxville, IA; 7. #51m Chris Partin, Tulsa, OK.

Ninth Heat (10 Laps): 1. #17j P.J. Jones, Torrance, CA; 2. #33h Robert Hanley, Foxfield, CO; 3. #19s Ronnie Day, Salinas, CA; 4. #18w Travis Welpott, Pendleton, IN; 5. #10c Jamie Ferrell, Des Moines, IA; 6. #45az Jeff Perry, Phoenix, AZ; 7. #99r Kyle Rayburn, Pueblo West, CO.

First C Feature (12 Laps): 1. #7 Critter Malone, Speedway, IN; 2. #31v Rick Vaughn, Indianapolis, IN; 3. #26 Glenn Carson, Newark, CA; 4. #7t Jimmy McVay, Lees Summit, MO; 5. #10c Jamie Ferrell, Des Moines, IA; 6. #99r Kyle Rayburn, Pueblo West, CO; 7. #32f Dave Fuhrman, Avon, IN; 8. #0x Johnny Murdock, Kaufman, TX; 9. #17m Mario Marietta, Clinton, IN. DNS: #6L Eddie Leavitt, Knoxville, IA; #8x Butch Middleton, Erie, CO; #67n Randy Nigg, Colorado Springs, CO.

Second C Feature (12 Laps): 1. #33az David Rosales, Glendale, AZ; 2. #43 Chris Coers, Columbus, IN; 3. #57 Brian Brown, Higginsville, MO; 4. #61a Toby Brown, Carthage, MO; 5. #10t Toby Alfrey, Miamisburg, OH; 6. #45az Jeff Perry, Phoenix, AZ; 7. #50 Roland Ayo, Houston, TX; 8. #21 Andrew Andruskevitch, Riverton, IL. DNS: #51m Chris Partin, Tulsa, OK; #1f Mike Fulper, Cumberland, OH; #24 J.J. Yeley, Phoenix, AZ; #10 Andy Pierce, Plainfield, IN.

First B Feature (15 Laps): 1. #86c David Camfield, Jr., Decatur, IL; 2. #5d Kenny Lewis, Wheatridge, CO; 3. #0 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, TN; 4. #32 Blake Feese, Saybrook, IL; 5. #28 Matt Brun, New Carlile, OH; 6. #16f Chad Farmer, Colorado Springs, CO; 7. #12c Rick England, Wichita, KS; 8. #7 Critter Malone, Speedway, IN; 9. #6 Randy Fiscus, Monona, WI; 10. #7c Cole Carter, Brownsburg, IN; 11. #33h Robert Hanley, Foxfield, CO; 12. #10b Bill Baue, Indianapolis, IN; 13. #51 Ryan Durst, Lincoln, NE; 14. #31v Rick Vaughn, Indianapolis, IN; 15. #63n Rex Norris III, Knightstown, IN; 16. #55 Tony Everhart, El Cajon, CA..

Second B Feature (15 Laps): 1. #30c Craig Carey, Springfield, IL; 2. #02 Shane Matthews, Marysville, CA; 3. #78 Tim Crawley, Mabelvale, AR; 4. #19s Ronnie Day, Salinas, CA; 5. #8b Murray Erickson, Odessa, TX; 6. #33az David Rosales, Glendale, AZ; 7. #71r Keith Rauch, Edgewater, CO; 8. #0h Jesse Hockett, Warsaw, MO; 9. #20w Cody Weisensel, Sun Prairie, WI; 10. #49 Bryan Kobylarz, Birasboro, PA; 11. #19w Mike Woodring, Eden, NY; 12. #41 Josh Ward, Oxnard, CA; 13. #18w Travis Welpott, Pendleton, IN; 14. #43 Chris Coers, Columbus, IN; 15. #21x Derek Davidson, Indianapolis, IN; 16. #5m Mike Neher, Logansport, IN.

Love’s Thursday Night Thunder at the Bowl A Feature (25 Laps): 1. #15h Scott Hatton, Roscoe, IL; 2. #57k Randy Koch, Oregon, WI; 3. #2i Luke Icke, Littleton, CO; 4. #01 Greg Lueckert, Kansas City, MO; 5. #17j P.J. Jones, Torrance, CA; 6. #67 Brad Kuhn, Avon, IN; 7. #8m Damion Gardner, Concord, CA; 8. #02 Shane Matthews, Marysville, CA; 9. #86c David Camfield, Jr., Decatur, IL; 10. #32 Blake Feese, Saybrook, IL; 11. #19s Ronnie Day, Salinas, CA; 12. #22 Ron Gregory, Noblesville, IN; 13. #22m Ray Bull, Bloomsburg, PA; 14. #2 Kevin Doty, Milan, IL; 15. #8p Wally Pankratz, Orange, CA; 16. #5d Kenny Lewis, Wheatridge, CO; 17. #85 Shane Hollingsworth, Indianapolis, IN; 18. #78 Tim Crawley, Mabelvale, AR; 19. #30c Craig Carey, Springfield, IL; 20. #0 Scott Bloomquist, Mooresburg, TN; 21. #11 Tracy Hines, Greenfield, IL; 22. #3 Jeremy Sherman, Phoenix, AZ.

Ford Focus Midgets (15 Laps): 1. Josh Lakatos, 2. Chris Rahe, 3. Tyler Brown, 4. Derek Mungor, 5. Chad DeSelle, 6. J.J. Ercse, 7. Wayne McCormick, 8. Todd Hunsaker, 9. Garratt Boyden, 10. Bobby McGowan, 11. Garrett Hansen, 12. Darren Hagen.

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