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NASCAR’s Bell Shines In Chili Bowl Prelim

| , RacinToday.com Friday, January 17 2020
Christopher Bell continues to be a Chili Bowl superstar. (RacinToday/HHP file photo)

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Oklahoma native and rising NASCAR star Christopher Bell outclassed the field Thursday night at Tulsa Expo Raceway, posting his fifth consecutive Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals preliminary victory during Thursday’s John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night.

The three-time/reigning Golden Driller Award winner, Bell scored his sixth overall prelim win around River Spirit Expo Center to advance his Tucker Boat No. 84x into Saturday night’s A-Feature. 

“Man, this race…I say it time and time again…this race literally is what motorsports means to me,” said Bell, a native of Norman, Okla. “This is the pinnacle for me growing up in Oklahoma. I hope that this is the race I can run the rest of my life until I can come back here owning a race car and have another Buddy Kofoid drive for me.”

Bell led Laps 12-30 after taking the lead from Thomas Meseraull, who finished second and also advanced into Saturday’s championship-deciding event. Californian Rico Abreu, the Golden Driller winner in 2015-16, won Wednesday night’s A-Feature to advance along with Colby Copeland. They join Tuesday night’s A-Feature winner/runnerup pairing of NASCAR regular Kyle Larson and Jonathan Beason and Monday’s combination of 17-year-old Cannon McIntosh and second-place Tyler Courtney.

With the white flag waving Thursday, Bell’s night nearly ended as contact with a slower car all but parked the No. 84x. With the field bearing down, Bell recovered to capture the win by 1.114-seconds.

“Lapped traffic was thick and they were just two-by-two,” said Bell, a Toyota Racing Development driver. “So honestly, I just got to the point where I started riding behind them because I’ve taken myself out a lot here running over lapped cars and I still almost did it coming to the white flag.”

Bell currently competes fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 95 Toyota Camry for Leavine Family Racing. He was the NASCAR Truck Series Champion in 2017.

Meseraull secured the final transfer into Saturday’s A-Feature with Buddy Kofoid third in his first career Chili Bowl appearance. Logan Seavey crossed fourth with Shane Golobic holding on to complete the top five.

A field of 73 cars was present, raising the week’s total car-count to 273 with another 76 slated for Friday’s Vacuworx Qualifying Night.

Split into nine OERB Heat Races, the wins went to CJ Leary, Golobic, Meseraull, Cory Kruseman, Tanner Berryhill, Seavey, Bell, Shane Cottle and Chance Morton. C-Features went to Cale Conley and Michelle Decker with Dave.com B-Features topped by Cottle and Kyle Cummins. Team Toyota Qualifier No. 4 wins went Jason McDougal, Kofoid, Golobic and Bell.

The Worldwide Technologies Raceway Flip Count jumped Thursday from 39 to 49 with all drivers able to walk away.

Action in the 34th annual Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire continues Friday with Vacuworx Qualifying Night. Hot Laps will get underway at 4 p.m. (CST) with racing at 5.

Continued updates on the Chili Bowl Nationals are available on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with @CBNationals. Weeknight action also can be viewed online by pay-per-view at racinboys.com. Saturday’s final feature races will air on the MAVTV Motorsports Network. Official press updates and results on the Chili Bowl Nats also can be accessed online at http://www.chilibowl.com.

A trio of NTT IndyCar Series drivers are getting down-and-dirty at the Chili Bowl Nationals. Connecticut native Santino Ferrucci turned in a solid debut Wednesday, with Australian James Davison hot-lapping Thursday and Indiana’s Conor Daly on deck.

Ferrucci, Davison and Daly are driving with help from David Byrd, whose inspiration for supporting talented open-wheel drivers emanates from his father, Jonathan, who helped Rich Vogler and Stan Fox compete in the Indianapolis 500. David Byrd also helped Bryan Clauson run the 500 in 2015 and ’16.

Ferrucci drove from 11th to fifth in Wednesday night’s C-Main race, just missing advancement into the next round in a prelim won by Rico Abreu. The fifth-place finish was impressive, considering that Ferrucci was competing in a Midget race for the first time.

“I thought I did really well,” said Ferrucci, who is coming off a successful 2019 rookie campaign with Dale Coyne Racing. “Before my heat I only had 10 (practice) laps, so obviously I knew I was going to struggle at times. But my heat was pretty stacked, so I don’t feel so bad.”

Davison, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter from Melbourne, Australia, plans to compete in NASCAR’s Daytona 500 and INDYCAR’s Indianapolis 500 in 2020. Davison finished eighth and last in his eight-lap heat race but rallied for a 10th-place result in the first 12-lap C-Main.

Daly, who will be handling the road/street-course INDYCAR schedule in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevrolet entry as well as a third team car in the 104th Indy 500, will be making his second Chili Bowl appearance Friday night.

All three INDYCAR drivers will be part of Saturday’s final rounds, with their starting positions to be determined. There are 360 drivers competing in Tulsa, representing 40 states and six countries. Among them are seven former Chili Bowl champions, plus NASCAR Cup standouts Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman.

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OERB Heat Races: Top 40 in passing points advance to Qualifiers

Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 55V-CJ Leary[5]; 2. 15D-Andrew Deal[8]; 3. 11A-Andrew Felker[4]; 4. 02-Andy Gage[1]; 5. 52C-Cody Karl[9]; 6. 7JR-JD Black[6]; 7. 41X-Howard Moore[3]; 8. 3B-Jessie Barber[2]; 9. 11P-Laydon Pearson[7].

Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 17W-Shane Golobic[3]; 2. 77U-Chris Urish[1]; 3. 2ND-Dave Darland[7]; 4. 117-Jack Dover[6]; 5. 87F-Johnny Kent[4]; 6. 39B-Cole Bodine[8]; 7. M1-Mark Smith[5]; 8. 0K-Don O’Keefe Jr.[2].

Heat 3 (8 Laps): 1. 7X-Thomas Meseraull[5]; 2. 31B-Chance Crum[7]; 3. 49-Scott Kreutter[2]; 4. 78M-Merle Scherb[1]; 5. 51X-Joe Walker[3]; 6. 2C-Seth Carlson[8]; 7. Q23-Barrie Valentino[6]; 8. 21D-Justin Dickerson[4].

Heat 4 (8 Laps): 1. 21K-Cory Kruseman[2]; 2. 47X-Danny Stratton[1]; 3. 3N-Jake Neuman[6]; 4. 5G-Ben Worth[8]; 5. 57K-Kevin Studley[5]; 6. 84S-Shaun Shapel[4]; 7. 72-Eric Fenton[7]; 8. 46X-Jeffrey Champagne[3].

Heat 5 (8 Laps): 1. 91B-Tanner Berryhill[4]; 2. 17B-Ryan Bickett[3]; 3. 56D-Mitchell Davis[2]; 4. 11X-Donovan Peterson[1]; 5. 19B-Spencer Bayston[7]; 6. 7R-Austin Williams[8]; 7. 4M-Michelle Decker[5]; 8. 33J-James Davison[6].

Heat 6 (8 Laps): 1. 39-Logan Seavey[4]; 2. 25-Jerry Coons Jr.[3]; 3. 23S-Kyle Simon[6]; 4. 67S-Ryan Smith[7]; 5. 32D-Casey Shuman[2]; 6. 6-Bill Rose[5]; 7. 68B-Blain Petersen[1]; 8. 1H-Rick Horn[8].

Heat 7 (8 Laps): 1. 84X-Christopher Bell[1]; 2. 35L-Cody Ledger[4]; 3. 17T-Stevie Sussex[3]; 4. 321-Chad Winfrey[2]; 5. 10C-Dalton Camfield[8]; 6. 715-Robert Bell[5]; 7. 24F-Hunter Fischer[7]; 8. 00D-Daniel Sanchez[6].

Heat 8 (8 Laps): 1. 9P-Shane Cottle[2]; 2. 76M-Jason McDougal[3]; 3. 67-Michael Kofoid[7]; 4. 2X-AJ Fike[1]; 5. 27D-Travis Berryhill[8]; 6. 11-Cale Conley[4]; 7. 72X-Jeff Wheeler[5]; 8. 926-Morgan Frewaldt[6].

Heat 9 (8 Laps): 1. 7MF-Chance Morton[1]; 2. 25B-Steve Buckwalter[5]; 3. 1G-Kyle Cummins[4]; 4. 08M-Joe B. Miller[7]; 5. 00X-Jason Martin[2]; 6. 67K-Holley Hollan[6]; 7. 73-Dylan Ito[8]; 8. 17M-Kala Keliinoi[3].

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C-Features: Top 4 advance to corresponding B-Feature

C-Main 1 (12 Laps): 1. 11-Cale Conley[8]; 2. 6-Bill Rose[6]; 3. 87F-Johnny Kent[3]; 4. 78M-Merle Scherb[1]; 5. 32D-Casey Shuman[4]; 6. M1-Mark Smith[10]; 7. 11P-Laydon Pearson[16]; 8. 24F-Hunter Fischer[9]; 9. 72X-Jeff Wheeler[11]; 10. 33J-James Davison[13]; 11. 46X-Jeffrey Champagne[15]; 12. 926-Morgan Frewaldt[14]; 13. 1H-Rick Horn[12]; 14. 73-Dylan Ito[7]; 15. 7JR-JD Black[5]; 16. 2X-AJ Fike[2]; 17. (DNS) 3B-Jessie Barber.

C-Main 2 (12 Laps): 1. 4M-Michelle Decker[10]; 2. 51X-Joe Walker[3]; 3. 00X-Jason Martin[4]; 4. 67K-Holley Hollan[5]; 5. 57K-Kevin Studley[2]; 6. 11X-Donovan Peterson[1]; 7. 68B-Blain Petersen[12]; 8. 21D-Justin Dickerson[14]; 9. Q23-Barrie Valentino[8]; 10. 41X-Howard Moore[9]; 11. 00D-Daniel Sanchez[11]; 12. 715-Robert Bell[6]; 13. 84S-Shaun Shapel[7]; 14. 17M-Kala Keliinoi[13]; 15. (DNS) 72-Eric Fenton; 16. (DNS) 0K-Don O’Keefe Jr.

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Team Toyota Qualifiers: Top 16 in combined passing points advance to the A-Feature

Qualifier 1 (10 Laps): 1. 76M-Jason McDougal[1]; 2. 39B-Cole Bodine[10]; 3. 91B-Tanner Berryhill[5]; 4. 2ND-Dave Darland[4]; 5. 15D-Andrew Deal[6]; 6. 7MF-Chance Morton[2]; 7. 49-Scott Kreutter[9]; 8. 117-Jack Dover[8]; 9. 77U-Chris Urish[7]; 10. 35L-Cody Ledger[3].

Qualifier 2 (10 Laps): 1. 67-Michael Kofoid[4]; 2. 3N-Jake Neuman[3]; 3. 39-Logan Seavey[5]; 4. 67S-Ryan Smith[1]; 5. 55V-CJ Leary[6]; 6. 47X-Danny Stratton[7]; 7. 10C-Dalton Camfield[8]; 8. 2C-Seth Carlson[10]; 9. 56D-Mitchell Davis[9]; 10. 5G-Ben Worth[2].

Qualifier 3 (10 Laps): 1. 17W-Shane Golobic[5]; 2. 08M-Joe B. Miller[1]; 3. 7X-Thomas Meseraull[6]; 4. 19B-Spencer Bayston[9]; 5. 11A-Andrew Felker[7]; 6. 27D-Travis Berryhill[8]; 7. 21K-Cory Kruseman[4]; 8. 23S-Kyle Simon[3]; 9. 7R-Austin Williams[10]; 10. 17B-Ryan Bickett[2].

Qualifier 4 (10 Laps): 1. 84X-Christopher Bell[3]; 2. 25-Jerry Coons Jr.[2]; 3. 25B-Steve Buckwalter[5]; 4. 1G-Kyle Cummins[7]; 5. 31B-Chance Crum[6]; 6. 9P-Shane Cottle[4]; 7. 52C-Cody Karl[1]; 8. 321-Chad Winfrey[9]; 9. 02-Andy Gage[10]; 10. 17T-Stevie Sussex[8].

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Dave.com B-Features: Top 4 advance to the A-Feature

B-Main 1 (15 Laps): 1. 9P-Shane Cottle[3]; 2. 11A-Andrew Felker[2]; 3. 21K-Cory Kruseman[5]; 4. 2ND-Dave Darland[1]; 5. 47X-Danny Stratton[4]; 6. 17B-Ryan Bickett[10]; 7. 6-Bill Rose[14]; 8. 10C-Dalton Camfield[6]; 9. 87F-Johnny Kent[12]; 10. 321-Chad Winfrey[9]; 11. 2C-Seth Carlson[8]; 12. 78M-Merle Scherb[15]; 13. 7R-Austin Williams[11]; 14. 11-Cale Conley[13]; 15. 52C-Cody Karl[7]; 16. (DNS) 56D-Mitchell Davis.

B-Main 2 (15 Laps): 1. 1G-Kyle Cummins[1]; 2. 67S-Ryan Smith[2]; 3. 117-Jack Dover[7]; 4. 27D-Travis Berryhill[3]; 5. 7MF-Chance Morton[4]; 6. 5G-Ben Worth[10]; 7. 35L-Cody Ledger[9]; 8. 49-Scott Kreutter[5]; 9. 23S-Kyle Simon[6]; 10. 77U-Chris Urish[8]; 11. 4M-Michelle Decker[13]; 12. 02-Andy Gage[11]; 13. 67K-Holley Hollan[14]; 14. 00X-Jason Martin[15]; 15. 51X-Joe Walker[12]; 16. (DNS) 17T-Stevie Sussex.

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A-Feature: Top 2 advance to Saturday’s A-Feature

A-Main (30 Laps): 1. 84X-Christopher Bell[6]; 2. 7X-Thomas Meseraull[3]; 3. 67-Michael Kofoid[2]; 4. 39-Logan Seavey[5]; 5. 17W-Shane Golobic[1]; 6. 19B-Spencer Bayston[15]; 7. 55V-CJ Leary[12]; 8. 76M-Jason McDougal[11]; 9. 25-Jerry Coons Jr.[14]; 10. 25B-Steve Buckwalter[8]; 11. 91B-Tanner Berryhill[4]; 12. 3N-Jake Neuman[10]; 13. 08M-Joe B. Miller[16]; 14. 9P-Shane Cottle[17]; 15. 67S-Ryan Smith[20]; 16. 2ND-Dave Darland[23]; 17. 31B-Chance Crum[13]; 18. 15D-Andrew Deal[9]; 19. 27D-Travis Berryhill[24]; 20. 1G-Kyle Cummins[18]; 21. 21K-Cory Kruseman[21]; 22. 39B-Cole Bodine[7]; 23. 117-Jack Dover[22]; 24. 11A-Andrew Felker[19].

Lap Leader(s): Shane Golobic, 1-2; Thomas Meseraull, 3-11; Christopher Bell, 12-30; Hard Charger: Spencer Bayston, plus 9.

| , RacinToday.com Friday, January 17 2020
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