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Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart Will Honor Jason Leffler at the Chili Bowl Nationals

December 22nd, 2013 at 12:25 PM
By Mark Eddinger

The 2014 Chili Bowl Midget Nationals presented by General Tire will be a special event as always but for one car entered it will take on even more significance and meaning. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne will pilot a midget fielded by Tony Stewart Racing and Beast Enterprises in the 28th edition of Midget Racing's Super Bowl to honor Jason Leffler.

'P5240067' photo (c) 2003, Carey Akin - license:

The late Jason Leffler, who was killed in a sprint car crash at Bridgeport Speedway in June, planned to co-own a car along with his girlfriend Julianna Patterson and build it with former father-in-law Bob East to run in the Chili Bowl Nationals which will be held from January 14th to the 18th at the Tulsa Expo Center. East kept the project going and after Tony Stewart was injured in his own sprint car crash Patterson approached him to see if he would help their effort out.

Kahne, a 16-time Sprint Cup winner, and close friend of Leffler's wanted to be involved as well and was asked by Stewart and Patterson to drive and then was granted permission by his Cup owner Rick Hendrick.

''There's just a lot of good reasons to get involved,'' Kahne said. ''Jason loved Chili Bowl, he was always so good at Chili Bowl and I enjoy driving on dirt. It was just such a good idea for me do it for Jason.''

The No. 71 Jason Leffler Tribute car Kahne drives will be raffled off afterward to benefit the Charlie Dean Leffler Discretionary Trust to benefit Leffler's son.

'Kasey Kahne Battle Grove 2009' photo (c) 2009, Ted Van Pelt - license:

Tony Stewart Racing will help East with the driveline and engine and his participation will allow Kahne to enter the January 14th Race of Champions. Stewart won the Chili Bowl in 2002 and 2007.

''He'll get to race more, more track time. I'm excited,'' Stewart said. ''Kasey and I have owned open-wheel teams and competed against each other, but this gives us a chance to work together on something.''

The entry list for the Chili Bowl Nationals is already over 250 participants strong with other NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Kyle Larson entered. Kevin Swindell has won the past four Chili Bowl Nationals. The 50-lap A-Main finale will take place on January 18th.

Tags: Charlie Dean Leffler Discretionary Trust, Chili Bowl, Jason Leffler, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Swindell, Motorsports, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Rick Hendrick, Tony Stewart, Tulsa Expo Center

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