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Christopher Bell unstoppable in Chili Bowl Qualifier

Friday January 17, 2014


Christopher Bell led every lap en route to the win in Thursday’s Chili Bowl Qualifier.
Photo by Patrick Grant

By Bryan Hulbert

TULSA, Okla. (January 16, 2014) – For the third time in as many nights, the checked flag waved on a first time prelim winner at the 28th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bow Nationals presented by General Tire as Oklahoma’s Christopher Bell led flag-to-flag in Thursday’s John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night A-Feature.

Bell’s win marks the second of the week for an Oklahoma driver, as Jonathan Beason topped Tuesday’s qualifying feature.

Asked of the ease of his night, Bell replied, “I don’t know if that was easy or not, but Keith definitely had me dialed in and the car drove itself around there. It was avoiding the lapped cars and not getting involved in anything stupid.”

Given his hometown, Bell was asked just how special the prelim win was to him. “The Chili Bowl is the race to me. If there was one race I could run, it would be here, especially with it being in my home state. I guess this is one of the few time I get to race in Oklahoma, which is around my home crowd; it really is something special to me.”

In a race that took under five minutes to complete, the Norman, Okla. native hit slower traffic by the ninth round with a 1.506 second advantage over Damion Gardner. Able to slip the Keith Kunz No. 67k through the back markers, the Toyota powered entry raced into a roadblock with 11 laps remaining and Garner closing the gap.

“There was one time I passed the first lapped car and then he (Damion) moved to the bottom because he had been running the top and then he started keeping up with me,” said Bell of Gardner closing in. “I kept seeing his nose down there and I was like ‘Aw crap, Damion is down there’.”

As the non-stop run continued, Kevin Swindell was clawing his way through the field. Racing from a C-Feature after a flat tire forced the No. 39 to the pits in his Heat Race, Swindell broke the top ten on Lap 8. Steadily through the field, Kevin snagged fifth from Andrew Deal on the fifteenth circuit.

Into the final four laps, the top two steps on the podium remained unchanged as the pair continued to weave through traffic with the race for the final transfer into Saturday’s A-Feature shaping up between Michael Pickens and Kevin Swindell.

Throwing slide jobs on Lap 21 through turns three and four, Swindell nearly slid through the cushion, allowing the New Zealand shoe to drive back under for the bronze position.

“I wasn’t totally comfortable with the car and settled for third and happy to be locked in and then all of the sudden Kevin comes up inside of me,” commented Pickens of the exchange. “I had to get going and was lucky we had another 10-percent left and was able to shake him off.”

On Pickens again with three to go, Swindell would remain fourth as the pair closed on Gardner.

Mired in slower traffic, Christopher Bell managed to cross 2.850 ahead of Gardner. Pickens held the final step on the podium, sending Kevin Swindell into a B-Feature on Saturday with a fourth place finish after a B-Feature win gridded the No. 39 seventeenth. Pennsylvania’s Steve Buckwalter completed the top five.

Ninth starting Danny Stratton crossed sixth with Andrew Felker, Tracy Hines, Andrew Deal, and nineteenth starting Kevin Ramey completing the top ten.

Thursday’s John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night saw 70 drivers draw in.

Four Chili Bowl Rookies started the A-Feature with Dominic Scelzi crossing fourteenth, followed by Chad Boespflug in fifteenth. Heath Duinkerken was nineteenth with James Eden twenty-third.

The Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire continues with Friday’s Vacuworx Global Qualifying Night. Races begin at 6:00 P.M. (CT) with Hot Laps at 5:00 P.M. For additional information on the Chili Bowl, log onto http://www.chilibowl.com.

Thursday’s John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night Results

Heat Races: 8 Laps – Top 40 in Passing Points advance to Qualifiers.

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 63NZ-Michael Pickens1; 2. 8L-Harli White4; 3. 82H-Mike Hess3; 4. 23-Jimmy Light7; 5. 91B-Kevin Bayer6; 6. 7J-Shawn Jackson5; 7. 27C-Kip Hughes2; 8. 7S-Kory Schudy8

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 47-Damion Gardner3; 2. 19S-Richard VanderWeerd7; 3. 43-Dakoda Armstrong1; 4. 37-Brady Short6; 5. 27R-Kyle O’Gara8; 6. 87C-Coby Hughes2; 7. 11XC-Steve Newman4; 8. (DNF) 4M-Andee Beierle5

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 97-Christopher Bell8; 2. 2B-Bill Balog2; 3. 21H-Ty Hulsey3; 4. 71S-Sheldon Haudenschild4; 5. 4A-Aaron Pierce7; 6. 8CK-David Garbo Jr.5; 7. (DNF) 39-Kevin Swindell1; 8. (DNF) 35T-Tyler Robbins6

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 56L-Danny Stratton1; 2. 7M-Kevin Ramey5; 3. 25J-Matt Juhl6; 4. 2S-Stratton Briggs2; 5. (DNF) 6-Ricky Stenhouse Jr3; 6. (DNF) 0G-Glenn Styres4; 7. (DNF) 31J-Jimmy Elledge8; 8. (DNF) 7N-D.J. Netto7

Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 11A-Andrew Felker2; 2. 25B-Steve Buckwalter4; 3. 81-Heath Duinkerken3; 4. 35S-Matt Sherrell7; 5. 77K-Kevin Olson6; 6. 33D-Lee Dakus1; 7. D6-Dakota Gains5; 8. 20B-Carey Becker8

Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 17S-Dominic Scelzi2; 2. 68M-Tyler Edwards7; 3. 57B-Chad Boespflug3; 4. 6A-David Gough8; 5. 69-A.J. Fike6; 6. 31E-Evan Sewell4; 7. 21D-Justin Dickerson1; DNS 73-Jason McDougal

Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 15D-Andrew Deal1; 2. 7L-Layne Himebaugh2; 3. 19P-Patrick Stasa4; 4. 62-Taylor Simas6; 5. 75X-Landon Simon5; 6. 14D-David McIntosh8; 7. 7D-Michelle Decker7; 8. (DNF) 40-Andy Huston3

Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 11-Chase Stockon3; 2. 5E-James Edens6; 3. 56X-Mark Chisholm1; 4. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr4; 5. 33-Davey Ray7; 6. 85-Matt Johnson2; 7. 11C-Chett Gehrke5

Heat 9 (8 Laps): 1. 24-Tracy Hines1; 2. 93-Dustin Morgan2; 3. 05J-Jason Johnson3; 4. 3T-Tim Barber4; 5. 17-Michael Koontz7; 6. 11H-Garett Hood6; 7. 10C-Dalton Camfield5

C-Features: 12 Laps – Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature.

C Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 39-Kevin Swindell13; 2. 75X-Landon Simon3; 3. 77K-Kevin Olson1; 4. 35T-Tyler Robbins14; 5. 0G-Glenn Styres6; 6. 2S-Stratton Briggs2; 7. 40-Andy Huston15; 8. 87C-Coby Hughes7; 9. 10C-Dalton Camfield10; 10. 7S-Kory Schudy11; 11. 27C-Kip Hughes12; 12. (DNF) 8CK-David Garbo Jr.5; 13. (DNF) 7D-Michelle Decker8; 14. (DNF) D6-Dakota Gains9; 15. (DNF) 11H-Garett Hood4

C Feature 2 (12 Laps): 1. 6-Ricky Stenhouse Jr3; 2. 7J-Shawn Jackson4; 3. 69-A.J. Fike1; 4. 11C-Chett Gehrke9; 5. 14D-David McIntosh2; 6. 7N-D.J. Netto12; 7. 31E-Evan Sewell6; 8. 85-Matt Johnson7; 9. 21D-Justin Dickerson13; 10. 20B-Carey Becker11; 11. 31J-Jimmy Elledge5; 12. 33D-Lee Dakus8; 13. 4M-Andee Beierle14; 14. (DNF) 11XC-Steve Newman10; 15. (DNF) 73-Jason McDougal15

Qualifiers: 10 Laps – Top 16 in combined Heat Race and Qualifier points advance to A-Feature.

Qualifier 1 (10 Laps): 1. 63NZ-Michael Pickens3; 2. 97-Christopher Bell6; 3. 7L-Layne Himebaugh1; 4. 17S-Dominic Scelzi4; 5. 11-Chase Stockon5; 6. 81-Heath Duinkerken8; 7. 71S-Sheldon Haudenschild10; 8. 62-Taylor Simas7; 9. 23-Jimmy Light2; 10. (DNF) 56X-Mark Chisholm9

Qualifier 2 (10 Laps): 1. 93-Dustin Morgan1; 2. 56L-Danny Stratton3; 3. 8L-Harli White4; 4. 57B-Chad Boespflug8; 5. 35S-Matt Sherrell2; 6. 27R-Kyle O’Gara7; 7. 7M-Kevin Ramey5; 8. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr10; 9. 4A-Aaron Pierce9; 10. 19S-Richard VanderWeerd6…..15H penalized at the finish for hitting the cone on a restart.

Qualifier 3 (10 Laps): 1. 15D-Andrew Deal3; 2. 25B-Steve Buckwalter4; 3. 5E-James Edens6; 4. 19P-Patrick Stasa1; 5. 3T-Tim Barber10; 6. 33-Davey Ray9; 7. 05J-Jason Johnson8; 8. 82H-Mike Hess7; 9. (DNF) 6A-David Gough2; 10. (DNF) 68M-Tyler Edwards5….05J penalized at the finish for hitting the cone at the restart.

Qualifier 4 (10 Laps): 1. 24-Tracy Hines3; 2. 47-Damion Gardner6; 3. 11A-Andrew Felker5; 4. 37-Brady Short1; 5. 2B-Bill Balog2; 6. 17-Michael Koontz9; 7. 91B-Kevin Bayer10; 8. 25J-Matt Juhl4; 9. 21H-Ty Hulsey7; 10. 43-Dakoda Armstrong8

B-Main: 15 Laps – Top 4 advance to A-Feature.

B Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 39-Kevin Swindell13; 2. 7M-Kevin Ramey2; 3. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr8; 4. 81-Heath Duinkerken4; 5. 91B-Kevin Bayer6; 6. 27R-Kyle O’Gara5; 7. 75X-Landon Simon14; 8. 77K-Kevin Olson15; 9. 35T-Tyler Robbins16; 10. 21H-Ty Hulsey11; 11. 05J-Jason Johnson7; 12. 56X-Mark Chisholm12; 13. (DNF) 23-Jimmy Light10; 14. (DNF) 17-Michael Koontz3; 15. (DNF) 19P-Patrick Stasa1

B Feature 2 (15 Laps): 1. 35S-Matt Sherrell3; 2. 19S-Richard VanderWeerd6; 3. 62-Taylor Simas8; 4. 37-Brady Short1; 5. 6-Ricky Stenhouse Jr13; 6. 71S-Sheldon Haudenschild5; 7. 33-Davey Ray2; 8. 25J-Matt Juhl7; 9. 43-Dakoda Armstrong12; 10. 4A-Aaron Pierce11; 11. 6A-David Gough10; 12. 82H-Mike Hess9; 13. 69-A.J. Fike15; 14. 7J-Shawn Jackson14; 15. (DNF) 2B-Bill Balog4; 16. (DNF) 11C-Chett Gehrke16

A-Feature: 25 Laps – Top 3 lock into Saturday’s Championship Feature.

A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 97-Christopher Bell1; 2. 47-Damion Gardner2; 3. 63NZ-Michael Pickens4; 4. 39-Kevin Swindell17; 5. 25B-Steve Buckwalter7; 6. 56L-Danny Stratton9; 7. 11A-Andrew Felker8; 8. 24-Tracy Hines6; 9. 15D-Andrew Deal5; 10. 7M-Kevin Ramey19; 11. 93-Dustin Morgan11; 12. 8L-Harli White10; 13. 11-Chase Stockon14; 14. 17S-Dominic Scelzi13; 15. 57B-Chad Boespflug12; 16. 19S-Richard VanderWeerd20; 17. 35S-Matt Sherrell18; 18. 62-Taylor Simas22; 19. 81-Heath Duinkerken23; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr21; 21. 37-Brady Short24; 22. 3T-Tim Barber16; 23. 5E-James Edens3; 24. 7L-Layne Himebaugh15

Lap Leader(s): Christopher Bell (1-25)

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This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Mike Neff.


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