Keith Kunz has been around the Tulsa Expo Center for many years.
He’s never witnessed a driver win a race at the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl and flip after the chequered flag.
That’s what happened when Tanner Carrick, one of the 15 drivers racing for Keith Kunz Motorsports this week, scored the biggest victory of his young career.
After charging from sixth to second in his heat race and fifth to second in his qualifier, Carrick started the 25-lap main event from the third position. He rode patiently in third as polesitter Mitchel Moles and Jerry Coons, Jr. swapped the lead twice in the first half of the race.
Carrick’s big break came with nine laps to go when Moles flipped on the frontstretch and into turn one while leading the race. At the same time, Coons suffered a mechanical failure. This handed the lead over to Carrick and he never relinquished it from there.
“It means the world to me,” Carrick said of the win. “I know we were close last year until I hit the start cone when we were charging through the field pretty good. We had got up to third before that happened. Coming back this year I knew I had a chance to win. Keith gives me a good car.
I’ve been fast every time I’ve been here, I’ve just put myself in bad spots every single time in the main event. I told myself this year I’m not doing that, I’m finishing the race.”
Finish he did. On a preliminary night that many considered to be wide open and up for grabs, Carrick did what he needed to in order to lock himself into Saturday’s A-Main event.
“My main goal was just to lock in on Saturday, and I didn’t want to do it running second,” he said. “I wanted to win it. I had enough [passing points] running second in the heat race and the qualifier coming from sixth and fifth. I should’ve won both of those, I just took too long getting to the front being careful because I didn’t want to put myself in a bad spot again. I knew if I kept moving forward and putting myself in a good spot, I’d have a chance at winning the thing.”