TULSA, Okla. — There has been a steady demand for Emerson Axsom merchandise inside the Tulsa Expo Center this week.
It’s no surprise based on Axsom’s impressive performance two weeks ago during the Tulsa Shootout, where he won the stock non-winged feature and crashed going for the lead on the final lap of the non-winged outlaw feature.
Axsom’s website didn’t offer t-shirts for sale at the time of his Tulsa Shootout performance, but that hasn’t stopped fans from flocking to the Clauson Marshall Racing pits for hoodies and t-shirts during the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals.
“We didn’t have any online so we’re selling them all here,” Axsom said with a smile. “We’re sold out of hoodies and selling a lot of t-shirts. I guess that’s a good thing.”
His stock non-winged feature victory was Axsom’s second Tulsa Shootout Golden Driller after he previously won the outlaw feature in 2020. He believes his experience with Clauson Marshall Racing last year helped him be better prepared for the Tulsa Shootout and the Chili Bowl.
“Every year I’ve gone to the Shootout I’ve had that potential,” Axsom said. “With all the midget experience I know how to race and I grew up in micros, so I kind of feel like that makes it the best of both worlds. You race a micro like you race a midget, but I grew up racing micros, so that gives me the feeling of the car.
“It was wild. We’ve had potential to do that, this year I kind of had the experience and maturity to do it.”
The Franklin, Ind., native is considered one of the favorites during Thursday’s JCT Qualifying Night. However, he’ll be going up against an incredibly tough field that includes three-time Chili Bowl winner Christopher Bell, USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series champion Brady Bacon and multi-time USAC victor Tanner Thorson, among others.
“I’m ready to go. I’m nervous, I’m excited,” Axsom said. “I’ve been waiting all week for this. I’m going to go out there and give it my all.”
Axsom, who is slated to contest the full USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Car Series schedule for Clauson Marshall Racing this year, says he knows he has a car capable of competing for a podium finish Thursday night based on the performances of his teammates Corey Day and Tyler Courtney earlier in the week.
Anything less than that and he’ll be disappointed.
“I feel like I should have high expectations off the USAC season we came off of,” Axsom said. “Obviously, we can win races and run with the best. But it’s the Chili Bowl so anything can happen. I’m going in there pretty level-headed.
“Corey was really fast last night, the cards just didn’t go his way and Sunshine (Tyler Courtney), obviously, locked in. Obviously, we have the speed. I’ve just got to get out there and drive it. I’m expecting a top-three, but anything under that I’ll be kind of disappointed.”