NASCAR racing champion Tony Stewart left no doubt about what he thought Tulsans should be doing this weekend. Stewart is in town for the 27th annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, and he spoke to the media Monday afternoon at Expo Square.
"It's the biggest dirt race of the year," Stewart said. "If you don't come here, I don't know what life you have. You obviously don't have a quality life if you don't come watch the Chili Bowl Nationals."
Stewart said race co-founder Emmett Hahn has trained him for the last 13 years to let the public know that Chili Bowl is the place to be. Stewart last won the Golden Driller trophy in 2007. On Monday, he joked that he and racer Kyle Larson were - like everyone else - racing for second place.
That is due to the man who took center seat at the news conference and claimed his third consecutive Chili Bowl victory in 2012: Kevin Swindell. Father Sammy Swindell has won the series five times.
Swindell said his string of victories proves that not everything about the dirt race is due to the famous "Chili Bowl luck."
"If somebody wants to turn you around or turn you over, it's not hard here," he said. "I think that's the luck part, is just not getting caught in somebody else's disaster, really.
"What I've been able to do the last three years is kind of prove there is some factor that you can take into your own hands and make it work."
Racers are currently running practice laps on the indoor dirt track at Expo Square. Racing action starts Thursday night.
In addition to the top runners Swindell, Stewart and Larson, several Oklahomans will be competing for the Chili Bowl title this year.