TULSA, Okla. – Cannon McIntosh returned to familiar territory on Monday, winning the A Feature wire-to-wire on Cummins Qualifying Night for the 2023 Chili Bowl Nationals.
The 20-year-old driver of the No. 08 Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports Toyota topped his qualifi8er for the third time in four years, having accomplished the feat in both 2019 and 2020.
With his right rear tire going flat, McIntosh survived a restart with three laps left in the 30-lap feature to lock himself into Saturday night’s A-Main. The qualifying night victory was the 11th straight for drivers using Toyota power, dating to 2021.
As McIntosh took the checkered flag, Shane Golobic won a drag race for second place over third-place finisher Chris Windom. By a fraction of a second, Golobic secured the second guaranteed berth in Saturday’s A-Main.
After running the top of the track for the majority of the race, McIntosh went to the bottom to protect the inside line for the final three circuits.
“With about six or seven (laps) to go, I could feel the right rear starting to go flat,” McIntosh said.
The late caution, with Jerry Coons Jr. slowing from fourth place, added tension to the situation, but McIntosh hugged the bottom for the final three circuits as Golobic overtook Windom behind him.
“I definitely had zero confidence going into the restart,” McIntosh said. “I could hear the right rear rolling over in the corner, and I could feel it there. Thankfully, there was only three to go, and I knew those guys would be coming.”
The top two drivers from each of the next four qualifying nights will join McIntosh and Golobic in Saturday’s fight for the coveted Golden Driller trophy. The rest of the 24-car field will be filled from the “alphabet soup” preliminary races on Saturday.
In beating Windom to the finish line, Golobic, like McIntosh, will avoid the necessity of competing in Saturday’s preliminaries. Windom will try to advance from one of Saturday’s B-Mains.
“I didn’t know if that last restart was going to help or hurt us,” Windom said. “I saw his tire going down, and I sort of knew he was going to go to the bottom. I wasn’t going to follow him, so I went to the top…
“I feel like I got a good restart, and Shane, obviously, was running the bottom. He snuck in there and started racing and killed my momentum down the frontstretch. It was frustrating finishing third and not locking in, but I wasn’t going to sit there and follow Cannon and run second.”
Trey Marcham finished fourth, followed by Chase Briscoe and 14-year-old Gavan Boschele.
In the O’Reilly Auto Parts Race of Champions that preceded the qualifying race, Spencer Bayston held off McIntosh for his first victory in the 20-lap event.