LITTLE ROCK, Ark – After a pair of runner-up finishes in the previous two editions of the event, Christopher Bell broke through for the biggest win of his young career by pocketing the $15,000 winner’s share in the 40-lap finale of I-30 Speedway’s 27th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires.
Racing from the fifth starting position, the 19-year-old from Norman, OK, slid past West Memphis shoe A.G. Rains for the lead on a mid-race restart and went on to become the event’s 17th different winner and the first winner from Oklahoma since Wayne Johnson took STN honors in 1997.
“I didn’t think we had a chance, we were bad in hot laps,” Bell commented afterward. “The guys changed everything though and it was money after that, it was great.”
While Bell started the $84,175 feature event inside the third row after topping Friday night’s preliminary feature, Dash winner Brian Brown bolted into the lead from the pole position at the outset with fellow front row starter Rains, Aaron Reutzel, Matt Covington and Bell in tow in the early rounds.
Brown slipped away from the field, opening up nearly a straightaway advantage by the time Bell made his way past Covington for fourth on the tenth circuit. Four laps later, Brown’s advantage was erased when sixth-runner Dalton Davis got upside down in turn three.
Vying to improve upon a career-best STN finish of second in 2006 after winning Thursday’s preliminary, Grain Valley, Missouri’s Brown biked it getting into turn one on the lap 15 restart and promptly fell back to fourth behind Rains, Reutzel and Bell.
Reutzel and Bell raced back and forth for second behind Rains over the next several laps with Bell taking command of the position by the time the caution flew after 19 laps for a turn three spin by Joe Wood, Jr.
On Rains’ tailtank on the restart, Bell wasted no time pouncing on the lead with a slide job in turns one and two to take command aboard Brandon Berryman’s Moss-powered All Pro Auto Reconditioning No. 31b JR-1.
“I got to Rains and he was running up top where I’d been the whole time,” Bell said. “I went low to get by and it felt good.”
Once out front, Bell was virtually unchallenged despite a pair of cautions for turn three spins by Ray Allen Kulhanek after 22 laps and then Tony Bruce, Jr., after 29 laps.
Reutzel battled past Rains for second after the Kulhanek spin and had a shot at Bell on the lap 29 restart but was unable to take advantage, instead left to battle a resurgent Brown for the runner-up position.
The duo traded the position several times before Brown missed the turn four cushion, allowing Reutzel of Clute, TX, to sail on to the $10,000 runner-up payday aboard the Wells-powered BC Fundz No. 87 Triple-X.
Brown settled for a third career STN podium finish by bringing the FVP/Casey’s General Stores No. 21 Maxim across the stripe third with Oklahoma City native Wayne Johnson rallying from 12th to claim the fourth position in his No. 77x entry.
Only tenth at the midway point and then eighth on the final restart with 11 laps to go, Memphis-area racer Kevin Swindell marched forward over the final rounds aboard Donnie Cooper’s No. 01 machine to round out the top five.
Washington native Gary Taylor raced from tenth to fifth aboard the John James No. 4J in the initial 18 laps before settling for sixth with South Dakota’s Dusty Zomer climbing from “B” Main action to charge from 19th to seventh in the Buffalo Wild Wings No. 82.
After utilizing the STN Open provisional to start the main event, Posse rep Stevie Smith rallied from 22nd to eighth aboard Shawn Petersen’s No. 4 entry with Rains and Covington completing the top ten.
Taylor and Zomer were among a group of seven drivers to race their way into a first career STN championship feature event along with Jerod Roller (11th), Alex Sewell (13th), A.J. Bruns (15th), Shawn Dancer (18th) and Dalton Davis (20th).
While seven drivers made their first STN championship feature start, at the other end of the spectrum it was past winners Wayne Johnson and Terry Gray (21st) making the cut for the 15th and 16th times, respectively.
With a revised Saturday night format introduced to the capacity crowd, the eight Saturday Night STN Showdowns that awarded double passing points that were added to qualifying night points were won by Morgan Turpen, Howard Moore, Marshall Skinner, Brandon Hanks, Glenn Styres, Johnny Herrera, Tony Bruce, Jr., and Kevin Swindell.
Eric Lutz, Claud Estes and Derek Hagar topped the 10-lap “C” Mains with Bruns, Herrera and Roller victorious in the 12-lap “B” Mains.
None of the STN rookie contenders made the feature cut with California’s Shane Golobic the top finishing rookie with an eighth-place run in “B” Main action to edge Morgan Turpen, who finished ninth in the same “B” Main.
A total of 73 different drivers from 18 states as well as the Canadian province of Ontario competed in the 27th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires with in excess of $100,000 in purse money doled out over the weekend.
27th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Saturday Results:
Saturday Night STN Showdowns (Double Passing/Finishing Points in Effect; Top 8 in combined points from qualifying night and showdowns to “A” Main positions 7-14, next 24 to 3 “B” Mains with balance to 3 “C” Mains):
STN Showdown #1 (10 Laps): 1. 10m-Morgan Turpen, 2. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek, 3. X-Charlie Louden, 4. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 5. 4-Stevie Smith, 6. 12w-Dale Wester, 7. 23m-Lance Moss, 8. 43-Matthew Bauldwin.
STN Showdown #2 (10 Laps): 1. 40-Howard Moore, 2. 99h-Jerrod Hull, 3. 00-Dane Lorenc, 4. 1m-Sean McClelland, 5. 19-Klint Angelette, 6. 21bx-Brandon Hinkle, 7. 5-Eric Lutz. DNS: 13-Taylor Tidmore.
STN Showdown #3 (10 Laps): 1. 26-Marshall Skinner, 2. 17T-Channin Tankersley, 3. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 4. 88-Tim Crawley, 5. 23-Seth Bergman, 6. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 7. 14m-Jordon Mallett, 8. 33z-Zach Chappell.
STN Showdown #4 (10 Laps): 1. 3h-Brandon Hanks, 2. 4J-Gary Taylor, 3. 91a-Ernie Ainsworth, 4. 77x-Wayne Johnson, 5. 199-Ryan Bowers, 6. 38-Rick Pringle, 7. 21-Kevin Hinkle. DNS: 52-Blake Hahn.
STN Showdown #5 (10 Laps): 1. 0-Glen Styres, 2. 82z-Dusty Zomer, 3. 8-Alex Sewell, 4. 51b-Joe B. Miller, 5. 7m-Chance Morton, 6. 87b-Jason Barney, 7. 17-Josh Baughman, 8. 15J-Jeremy Middleton.
STN Showdown #6 (10 Laps): 1. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 2. 5r-Jerod Roller, 3. 10g-Terry Gray, 4. 44-A.J. Bruns, 5. 17w-Harli White, 6. 9$-Kyle Clark, 7. 17b-Ryan Bickett.
STN Showdown #7 (10 Laps): 1. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 2. 49-Shawn Dancer, 3. 74e-Claud Estes, 4. 10b-Mitch Brown, 5. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 6. 58-Gary Floyd, 7. 8m-Kade Morton.
STN Showdown #8 (10 Laps): 1. 01-Kevin Swindell, 2. 41-Jason Johnson, 3. 17-Cody Gardner, 4. 93-Dustin Morgan, 5. 14z-Zach Pringle, 6. 91-Shane Golobic. DNS: 28-Jason Keith.
“C” Mains (Top 4 Advance to Corresponding “B” Main):
First “C” Main (10 Laps): 1. 5-Eric Lutz, 2. 51b-Joe B. Miller, 3. 17w-Harli White, 4. 93-Dustin Morgan, 5. 10b-Mitch Brown, 6. 12w-Dale Wester, 7. 19-Klint Angelette, 8. 14m-Jordon Mallett, 9. 33z-Zach Chappell, 10. 21bx-Brandon Hinkle.
Second “C” Main (10 Laps): 1. 74e-Claud Estes, 2. 40-Howard Moore, 3. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 4. 4-Stevie Smith, 5. 23m-Lance Moss, 6. 13-Taylor Tidmore, 7. 43-Matthew Bauldwin, 8. 58-Gary Floyd, 9. 15J-Jeremy Middleton. DNS: 28-Jason Keith.
Third “C” Main (10 Laps): 1. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 2. 7m-Chance Morton, 3. 38-Rick Pringle, 4. 00-Dane Lorenc, 5. 9$-Kyle Clark, 6. 17b-Ryan Bickett, 7. 8m-Kade Morton, 8. 21-Kevin Hinkle. DNS: 52-Blake Hahn.
“B” Mains (Top 2 from each Advance to “A” Main):
First “B” Main (12 Laps): 1. 44-A.J. Bruns, 2. 03-Joe Wood, Jr., 3. 17g-Cody Gardner, 4. 41-Jason Johnson, 5. 99h-Jerrod Hull, 6. 93-Dustin Morgan, 7. 23-Seth Bergman, 8. 5-Eric Lutz, 9. 17w-Harli White, 10. 51b-Joe B. Miller, 11. 199-Ryan Bowers, 12. 26-Marshall Skinner.
Second “B” Main (12 Laps): 1. 45x-Johnny Herrera, 2. 82z-Dusty Zomer, 3. 0-Glenn Styres, 4. 88-Tim Crawley, 5. 87b-Jason Barney, 6. 14k-Kyle Bellm, 7. 40-Howard Moore, 8. 91-Shane Golobic, 9. 10m-Morgan Turpen, 10. 16-Anthony Nicholson, 11. 74e-Claud Estes, 12. 4-Stevie Smith.
Third “B” Main (12 Laps): 1. 5r-Jerod Roller, 2. 3h-Brandon Hanks, 3. 91a-Ernie Ainsworth, 4. 1m-Sean McClelland, 5. 14z-Zach Pringle, 6. 9jr-Derek Hagar, 7. 17-Josh Baughman, 8. X-Charlie Louden, 9. 17T-Channin Tankersley, 10. 00-Dane Lorenc, 11. 7m-Chance Morton, 12. 38-Rick Pringle.
Dash for Cash (Finish Determines Alignment of Front Three Rows of Main Event):
Dash (6 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 21b-Brian Brown (1), 2. 3a-A.G. Rains (2), 3. 87r-Aaron Reutzel (4), 4. 95-Matt Covington (3), 5. 31b-Christopher Bell (5), 6. 12d-Dalton Davis (6).
27th Annual COMP Cams Short Track Nationals presented by Hoosier Tires Championship “A” Feature:
A Feature (40 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 31b-Christopher Bell (5) [$15,000], 2. 87r-Aaron Reutzel (3) [$10,000], 3. 21b-Brian Brown (1) [$7,500], 4. 77x-Wayne Johnson (12) [$5,000], 5. 01-Kevin Swindell (13) [$2,800], 6. 4J-Gary Taylor (10) [$2,750], 7. 82z-Dusty Zomer (19) [$2,725], 8. 4-Stevie Smith (22) [$2,700], 9. 3a-A.G. Rains (2) [$2,675], 10. 95-Matt Covington (4) [$2,650], 11. 5r-Jerod Roller (17) [$2,625], 12. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr. (11) [$2,600], 13. 8-Alex Sewell (8) [$2,575], 14. 03-Joe Wood, Jr. (18) [$2,550], 15. 44-A.J. Bruns (15) [$2,525], 16. 3h-Brandon Hanks (20) [$2,500], 17. 21T-Ray Allen Kulhanek (9) [$2,500], 18. 49-Shawn Dancer (7) [$2,500], 19. 45x-Johnny Herrera (16) [$2,500], 20. 12d-Dalton Davis (6) [$2,500], 21. 10g-Terry Gray (14) [$2,500], 22. 26-Marshall Skinner (21) [$2,500].
Lap Leaders: Brian Brown 1-14, A.G. Rains 15-19, Christopher Bell 20-40.
Note: Marshall Skinner earned a starting berth via I-30 Speedway track champion provisional and Stevie Smith started the main event via the STN Open Provisional.
I-30 Speedway Release
Photo Credit: Lonnie Wheatley