TULSA, Okla. — official series release — POWRi photo —
Open-wheel star Christopher Bell, hailing from Norman, Okla., claimed the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature in the opening night of the Second Annual Turnpike Challenge in convincing fashion.
A graduate of the PCR micro sprint ranks, Bell charged from the 10th starting position on the eighth-mile Port City Raceway bullring in the familiar Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports’ Toyota-powered Bullet that fans have become accustomed to seeing run up front.
Andrew Felker started on the inside front row in the Danny Felker-owned Stanton-powered BOSS Chassis and powered into the early lead at the drop of the green flag. Attempting to chase down Felker from the second position, Riverside, California-native Darren Hagen would work relentlessly to hold off the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports’ Toyota-powered Bullet of Kevin Thomas, Jr. as both drivers labored to gain ground on Felker.
As Felker quickly closed in on lap traffic and begun weeding his way through, Hagen — gaining ground in second — would get collected as a lap car slid up off the bottom and spun, bringing out the first caution of the main event. With 14 laps in the books, Felker would lead the field back to green with Thomas Jr. and Bell in tow. As Felker again pulled away from the field and took off leaving Thomas Jr. and Bell to battle for second, the caution would fly again as Westley Smith would slow atop turn three.
With 19 laps in the books, Felker would lead the field back to green flag racing, but this time the pairing of Thomas and Bell would make their move. With Bell ultimately coming out ahead and Felker back in second, Thomas would have to settle for third for one lap. With Bell comfortably out front and working to pull away, Thomas made his move and took second from Felker on lap 21.
Thomas and Felker would try to give chase, but neither driver could mount a charge as Bell would cross the line first. Coming in fourth was Tanner Thorson of Minden, Nev. and rounding out the top five was defending POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series Champion, Zach Daum of Pocahontas, Ill.
“I just love this place,” commented Bell. “This place is just awesome. You have to finesse it, but you really have to run the crap out of it. I put this car through hell and back tonight and I just can’t thank Keith Kunz and Pete Willoughby enough. I made a mistake during the qualifier and spun it out. Luckily I was able to get back up there and into a transfer spot. I knew the feature being 40 laps, I’d have plenty of time to get up there.”
“I’m real fortunate to be a part of this team,” said Thomas. “As much rain as we had, it was a very good racetrack. I had fun tonight and congratulations to Chris. Maybe we can come back tomorrow and get one better.”
“This is a good way to start the season off,” remarked Felker. “We came up a little short; we were just too goo too early, but we’re standing on the same front stretch as Keith Kunz tonight, so I’d say that was a step in the right direction.”
RESULTS: POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series;
A-Main (40 laps):1. 71 – Christopher Bell 2. 67K – Kevin Thomas Jr. 3. 11A – Andrew Felker 4. 67 – Tanner Thorson 5. 5 – Zach Daum 6. 3F – Geoff Ensign 7. 35 – Matt Sherrell 8. 8K – Blake Hahn 9. 05 – Brad Loyet 10. 17 – Darren Hagen 11. 8J – Jonathan Beason 12. 3R – Daniel Robinson 13. 96 – Cody Brewer 14. 8 – Alex Sewell 15. 21 – Ty Hulsey 16. 5$ – Danny Smith 17. 7 – Austin Brown 18. 4M – Michelle Decker 19. 9K – Kyle Schuett 20. 7M – Chance Morton 21. 5C – Colten Cottle 22. 44X – Don Droud Jr. 23. 18P – Payton Pierce
CREDIT: POWRi Racing