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Bell Takes Victory at Night One of the Turnpike Challenge


Tulsa, OK - Chris Bell out- dueled Brady Bacon in lap traffic and cruised to his first POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series win of 2014. Bell battled Bacon from the drop of the green flag Friday night at the 1/8th mile Port City Raceway. The first of the two nights of the Turnpike Challenge saw a three hour delay shortly after heat races began with race teams and track officials battling rain, sleet, and colder than expected temperatures.

Pole-sitter Darren Hagen took the lead on the initial start, but was unable to hold off challenges from Justin Peck and the relentless Bacon. Bacon was then challenged by Bell, who took the lead running the high line on the semi-banked Port City Raceway until a caution came out for contact between Matt Sherrell and JD Black. Shortly after racing resumed, a fierce battle between Bacon and Bell ensued when they entered heavy lap traffic. Setting up the classic short track duel, Bacon ran the bottom line while Bell ran the high side. Utilizing the "treacherous curb," Bell was "able to pass a few guys and then drop down to the bottom and pass some running the top" while navigating lap traffic.

Bell, who had been running mostly the high line in his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports' Bullet-Toyota, darted to the bottom as he navigated lap traffic taking the lead from Bacon and never looked back. "They pulled through and gave us an awesome racetrack, and hopefully it made for some pretty good racing. I know it did there for the first couple of laps between Brady and me." Bell had a stellar 2013 season, quickly becoming a star on the national short track stage and has picked where he left off.

Consistently running in the top three for the duration of the main event, Peck drove his Esslinger-powered DRC to his first podium finish with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midgets. "We had a good, fast night," explained Peck, a graduate of the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series. "It's running really nice so far, first night out on it. I can't wait to see what the season brings." Peck switched from a Bullet Chassis to a DRC over the off-season, keeping the same Esslinger power under the hood.

Starting from the 11th position, Tyler Thomas charged through the field in his BT Machines sponsored, Esslinger powered, Triple X Chassis to take home the runner-up position. Thomas, another graduate of the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series is familiar with Port City Raceway from his micro days. "I started my whole dirt career at this racetrack," explained Thomas. "I think that played a huge role in our results."

The only red of the main event occurred on lap 35 when Port City favorite Chris Andrews was collected and turned over. While the late red created ideal conditions for a dash to the finish, Bell didn't let anyone capitalize on the opportunity as he steadily pulled away from the field and took the checkers.

POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature results (40 laps): 1. Chris Bell, 2. Tyler Thomas, 3. Justin Peck, 4. Brian McClellad, 5. Zach Daum, 6. Cody Brewer, 7. Alex Sewell, 8. Daniel Robinson, 9. Parker Price-Miller, 10. Tanner Thorson, 11. Austin Brown, 12. Darren Hagen, 13. Jonathan Beason, 14. Jacob Patton, 15. Seth Motsinger, 16. Chris Andrews, 17. Jason McDougal, 18. Brady Bacon, 19. Matt Sherrell, 20. Danny Smith, 21. Chett Gehrke, 22. JD Black. Tomorrow night, Sunday March 23rd, the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midgets will return to Port City Raceway for the final night of the Turnpike Challenge. Pill draw opens at 2 PM with hot laps at 5 PM and racing at 6 PM. Gates open at 3 PM.

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