WOO: Bell Nips Schatz To Win Eldora’s Knight Before The Kings Royal

RaceChaser Staff Featured, World of Outlaws Sprint Cars 0 Comments

Christopher Bell celebrates after winning Friday’s Knight Before The Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway. (Paul Arch photo)

ROSSBURG, Ohio — Christopher Bell took the lead from Brad Sweet and held off Donny Schatz on a restart with nine laps to go to win the Knight Before the Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway on Friday night.

Bell, who lined up for the 30-lap event in third, had to be perfect on the race’s only restart with less than 10 laps to go as the eight-time Outlaw Champion threw everything he had at the 22-year-old Camping World Truck Series regular, who was driving the No. 14 Tony Stewart Racing-Curb/Agajanian entry.

“It’s a dream come true,” Bell said. “To be able to drive for Tony (Stewart) is a dream come true, to win at Eldora on Kings Royal weekend with the Outlaws, I’m just speechless. I’ve had a lot of good runs here at the Kings Royal. I think I’ve been in the top three the last couple of years whenever I’ve crashed. So, to be able to finally win one was really special. Tonight was only 30 laps and we have 40 of them tomorrow.”

At the drop of the green flag, it was outside pole starter Brad Sweet who jumped out to an early advantage. Behind Sweet, Bell engaged in a thrilling battle with polesitter Brian Brown for the third position in the opening laps.

Sweet’s lead quickly expanded to 1.9 seconds over Bell, but evaporated just as fast when he struggled to navigate through a sea of slower traffic. Bell saw his opportunity on lap 10 and seized it as he drove by Sweet entering turn three and claimed the point.

From there, Bell found himself racing against the cushion, which was nearly against the outside retaining wall, all the way around the racetrack. At the halfway points, his gap was 1.3 seconds over Sweet and Ian Madsen with Schatz running in third.

A few short laps later, Schatz began to make his move forward as he got by Madsen and then Sweet to take second on lap 20.

The only caution flag of the race came on lap 21 for a stopped Sheldon Haudenschild in turn two and reset the battle upfront with a double-file restart. Bell chose the bottom lane for the restart despite running the high outside groove up to that point.

“The only reason I did it was because I got beat when I started on the top in the heat race,” Bell said. “I watched the heat races and every time the bottom was able to get the jump. I felt like either or would work, but I felt I was more vulnerable if I took the top.”

Despite losing his advantage, Bell felt the caution actually played to his advantage.

“I think the caution helped me out big time because I was struggling in lapped traffic,” Bell explained. “I knew I needed to get my wing back and I had just reached for the lever when the yellow came out.”

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