NORMAN, Okla. – Finishing off what has already been a strong 2014 season in even stronger fashion, Christopher Bell added another win this past weekend to run his season total to 25 victories.
While the win didn’t come in what he expected for the weekend, the 19-year-old from Norman, OK, settled for a close runner-up finish inSunday’s 150-lap asphalt Late Model event that came down to the final round at Sophia, North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway.
The unexpected victory came after a strong practice session on Friday in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 52 Late Model.
“This guy came running up to me and said, ‘Hey, my driver didn’t show up, do you want to run my Midget?’,” Bell explained.
The answer was what one would expect, with Bell jumping into the Butch Lamb-owned HPD Eastern Midget and racing to victory lane in theFriday night feature.
“He had the best car in the pits, no question about that,” Bell says.
With victory number 25 of the season in the books, Bell had his sights set on number 26 in the Late Model 150-lapper that was pushed back from Saturday to Sunday due to weather.
With the top ten in qualifying redrawing for starting position, Bell gridded the event fifth with the tenth-qualifier starting directly in front of him in third.
“I got hung up behind him, I’m not sure if he missed a shift or what, but by the end of the first lap we were back to ninth,” Bell explains.
Bell was soon on the move though on the half-mile, paperclip asphalt oval.
“It was a lot like Martinsville, bumper-to-bumper right around the bottom.”
Up to sixth shortly after the start, Bell made his way to the front of the pack with more than 60 laps to go.
“I’d passed the 74 car for sixth. Then I got out front and I could see him picking off car after car, he was on us when we had the final restart after about 120 laps,” Bell explains.
Bell took off on the start as he tried to knock down his second consecutive win in asphalt Late Model action after an October 18 score at Durham, North Carolina’s Orange County Speedway.
“We had some distance on him and then got to traffic,” Bell comments. “A lapped car cut down on me getting into the corner and cut the right front.”
“It was pushing so bad after that, I was practically stopping in the corners to keep him from getting under me,” Bell explains. “We held him off until the last lap, he did what he had to do and moved me.”
Given the circumstances, Bell was pleased with the strong run.
“There was nothing I would have changed, they gave me a great car and we had a great run,” Bell concludes.
Getting more comfortable by the week in the asphalt ranks, Bell is set for one more outing this year in the Kyle Busch Motorsports entry at North Carolina’s Southern National Motorsports Park on November 15.
But, before that, it’s back to the dirt this weekend aboard the Roth Motorsports No. 51T Non-Wing, 410-ci Sprint Car for the 19th Annual Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway in Perris, CA.
Bell will also compete in Thursday’s night’s USAC West Coast 360-ci portion of the event before plunging into USAC’s prestigious $20,000-to-win Oval Nationals on Friday and Saturday.
“Turkey Night last year is the only time I’ve ever been to Perris,” Bell explains. “This will be my first time there in a Sprint Car, so it’ll be a challenge for sure.”
“Going from an asphalt late model to a wingless Sprint Car at Perris is about the polar opposite,” Bell says.
But for a racer that makes a habit of jumping from Midget to Winged Sprint Car to Wingless and then asphalt Late Model on a regular basis, don’t expect the transition to take too long. In fact, the Thursday 360-ci portion could work to Bell’s advantage.
“I’m glad we have that race, that’ll give me some laps to get adjusted to it and then hopefully be ready to contend when the money is on the line.”
-Christopher Bell Racing Press Release. Photo Credit: Brenda Meserve/Speed51.com