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Bell Blasts to Victory With Commanding Performance Thursday at the Chili Bowl

By T.J. Buffenbarger

TULSA (January 12, 2017) — Christopher Bell turned Keith Kunz Racing’s luck at the 2017 Chili Bowl Nationals around in convincing fashion in route to winning the preliminary feature Thursday night at the River Spirit Expo Center. Bell took the lead during an early race restart and pulled away from the field dominating the remainder of the event.

After other teammates to Bell with KKR ran into various problems on their preliminary night Bell locked himself into Saturday’s Chili Bowl finale.

“(the car) was really good in the feature. Not that we struggle with it, but it just wasn’t as good as we needed to be. Throughout the heat race and the qualifier, we knew we needed to get better. Keith (Kunz) and Big Al put the tune up one it for the feature and it was really good.”

Sam Hafertepe got the jump at Christopher Bell on the start to lead the opening lap before Jerry Coons and Josh Most stopped in turn four. Brady Bacon also went to the work area with a flat left rear tire. All three drivers restarted at the tail of the field.

By lap three Hafertepe immediately was under siege as Bell slide past Hafertepe for the lead in turn four. Hafertepe then was under pressure from Danny Stratton before the second caution of the event appeared for Davey Ray stopping in turn four.

During the restart Hafertepe hit the restart cone while running in second and had to go to the tail of the field.

Bell pulled away from Stratton during the restart. Behind Stratton the race for third feature Justin Allgaier and C.J. Leary running side by side before Leary took the position on lap six.

Bell entered lap traffic on lap 12 with a sizable advantage. As Stratton entered traffic Leary began to apply pressure for the second spot when the caution appeared for Ryan Smith spinning in turn two.

Bell opened a sizeable advantage again after the restart. Bell was quickly clicking off laps when the caution appeared with four laps to go for Bacon slowing in turn four with a flat left rear tire and bent wheel.

With two laps to go Bell and Stratton pulled away while Aliger closed in on Leary for second. Algier go upside down on the file lap and collected Thomas Meseraull.

Up front though it was all Bell picking up the victory. Stratton and Leary also locked themselves into Saturday night’s feature event by rounding out the podium.

Stratton was happy with his second position to lock himself into Saturday’s feature, but felt like he could overcome the gap Bell built up early in the race.

“I feel like (Bell) got too much of an advantage in the beginning and the middle part of the race and put some lapped cars behind him,” said Stratton. “I wasn’t quick enough to get up to speed like that. I think at the end I was holding my own, but it was just too late.”

For Leary the final portion of the feature was trying to move past Stratton to give himself some breathing room while trying to hold onto the final transfer spot.

“The last five, ten laps we were just trying to figure out a way to get around Stratton and just trying to hold off (Andrew) Deal was difficult because he was pretty good at the end, but we were pretty good.”

For Bell, originally from Norman, Oklahoma, a Chili Bowl win would mean as much or more than any other race in his career.

“I’ve been coming to the Chili Bowl for a long time. Growing up in Oklahoma this is Daytona 500 for us. I remember coming here as a little kid sitting on the front stretch grandstands and every year I’d go buy the Chili Bowl t-shirt. I loved being able to see all the cars (that had won the Chili Bowl) on the back of the t-shirts, that’s something that stood out to me as a little kid. Seeing my name on the back of the 2018 Chili Bowl t-shirt would mean as much as holding a golden driller.”

31st Annual Chili Bowl Nationals
John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night
River Spirit Expo Center
Tulsa, OK
Thursday January 12, 2017

Heat Race #1 (8 Laps): 1. 76M – Brady Bacon [2]; 2. 68F – Tyler Seavey [1]; 3. 15T – Tony Rossi [3]; 4. 7B – Brian Peterson [4]; 5. 122Q – David Prickett [5]; 6. 53 – Brett Wilson [7]; 7. 86 – Mark Lowrey [8]; 8. 3D – Dustin Gilbert [6]

Heat Race #2 (8 Laps): 1. 47 – Danny Stratton [3]; 2. 57K – Kevin Studley [5]; 3. 8K – Frank Flud [7]; 4. 10W – Kyle Simon [1]; 5. 24F – Hunter Fischer [8]; 6. 42 – Dean Franklin [2]; 7. 7D – Michelle Decker [6]; 8. 5T – Matt Stewart [4]

Heat Race #3 (8 Laps): 1. 17W – Shane Golobic [1]; 2. 87 – Ryan Bernal [6]; 3. 9 – Matt Moore [3]; 4. 05X – Stevie Sussex III [8]; 5. 57 – Maria Cofer [5]; 6. 45A – Jesse Colwell [2]; 7. 31E – Evan Sewell [4]; 8. 19 – Randy Woodside [7]

Heat Race #4 (8 Laps): 1. 7A – Justin Allgaier [4]; 2. 51F – Hunter Schuerenberg [3]; 3. 7JR – JD Black [2]; 4. 7MF – Chance Morton [7]; 5. 84 – Shaun Shapel [8]; 6. 93K – Riley Kreisel [6]; 7. 88S – Scottie McDonald [5]; 8. 29A – Anthony Nocella [1]

Heat Race #5 (8 Laps): 1. 02 – Robby Josett [2]; 2. 15H – Sam Hafertepe Jr [8]; 3. 321 – Chad Winfrey [1]; 4. 15D – Andrew Deal [7]; 5. 23 – Jimmy Light [3]; 6. 3T – Tim Barber [6]; 7. 19W – Matt Streeter [5]; 8. 48M – Rick Murcko [4]

Heat Race #6 (8 Laps): 1. 20A – Shon Deskins [1]; 2. 25C – C.J. Leary [5]; 3. 45X – Bricen James [2]; 4. 3J – Josh Baughman [4]; 5. 96 – Cody Brewer [3]; 6. 2L – Joshua Shaw [7]; 7. 87H – Colby Hughes [8]; 8. 35L – Cody Ledger [6]

Heat Race #7 (8 Laps): 1. 24 – Tracy Hines [5]; 2. 1R – Thomas Meseraull [2]; 3. 87C – David Camfield Jr [1]; 4. 2T – Davey Ray [6]; 5. 6 – Bill Rose [7]; 6. 49JR – Austen Figueroa [4]; 7. 2R – Matt Rossi [3]; 8. (DNF) 74J – Jamie Speers [8]

Heat Race #8 (8 Laps): 1. 5X – Justin Peck [1]; 2. 71W – Christopher Bell [7]; 3. 00C – Grady Chandler [8]; 4. 10GW – George White [4]; 5. 22M – Taylor Courtney [2]; 6. 49 – Jonathan Davenport [3]; 7. 0K – Don O’Keefe Jr [6]; 8. (DNF) 10 – Lance Bennett [5]

Heat Race #9 (8 Laps): 1. 01 – Sheldon Haudenschild [2]; 2. 41 – Jason Johnson [6]; 3. 76Z – Zane Lawrence [1]; 4. 11E – Cory Elliott [7]; 5. 11Y – Travis Young [4]; 6. 38 – Kody Swanson [8]; 7. 41T – Brad Thompson [5]; 8. 17O – Mike Wheeler [3]

Heat Race #10 (8 Laps): 1. 7Z – David Gough [1]; 2. 75D – Lee Dakus [3]; 3. 37X – Jake Blackhurst [2]; 4. 7T – Tristan Oakes [5]; 5. 91M – Chase Majdic [8]; 6. 2W – Wyatt Burks [7]; 7. 22B – Troy Betts [4]; 8. 92P – Jacob Park [6]

Heat Race #11 (8 Laps): 1. 14C – Coleman Gulick [2]; 2. 44 – Don Droud Jr [4]; 3. 92M – Josh Most [6]; 4. 17B – Tanner Berryhill [8]; 5. 5 – Jerry Coons Jr [7]; 6. 29J – Logan Jarrett [5]; 7. 05J – Curtis Jones [1]; 8. 44H – Colton Hardy [3]

D Feature #1 (10 Laps, Taking Top 2): 1. 93K – Riley Kreisel [5]; 2. 49JR – Austen Figueroa [2]; 3. 19W – Matt Streeter [6]; 4. 31E – Evan Sewell [7]; 5. 10C – Dalton Camfield [4]; 6. 86 – Mark Lowrey [1]; 7. 44H – Colton Hardy [14]; 8. 42 – Dean Franklin [3]; 9. 19 – Randy Woodside [9]; 10. 3D – Dustin Gilbert [10]; 11. 92P – Jacob Park [11]; 12. (DNF) 48M – Rick Murcko [13]; 13. (DNF) 2R – Matt Rossi [8]; 14. (DNF) 10 – Lance Bennett [12]

D Feature #2 (10 Laps): 1. 22B – Troy Betts [7]; 2. 7D – Michelle Decker [4]; 3. 49 – Jonathan Davenport [2]; 4. 0K – Don O’Keefe Jr [5]; 5. 05J – Curtis Jones [9]; 6. 41T – Brad Thompson [6]; 7. 74J – Jamie Speers [8]; 8. 88S – Scottie McDonald [11]; 9. 75X – Ken Hanson [14]; 10. 17O – Mike Wheeler [13]; 11. (DNF) 5T – Matt Stewart [12]; 12. (DNF) 87H – Colby Hughes [1]; 13. (DNF) 45A – Jesse Colwell [3]; 14. (DNF) 35L – Cody Ledger [10]

C Feature #1 (12 Laps, Taking Top 4): 1. 321 – Chad Winfrey [2]; 2. 6 – Bill Rose [4]; 3. 76Z – Zane Lawrence [3]; 4. 38 – Kody Swanson [8]; 5. 7JR – JD Black [7]; 6. 93K – Riley Kreisel [15]; 7. 122Q – David Prickett [9]; 8. 10GW – George White [6]; 9. 11Y – Travis Young [10]; 10. 22M – Taylor Courtney [13]; 11. 29J – Logan Jarrett [14]; 12. 7T – Tristan Oakes [1]; 13. 23 – Jimmy Light [12]; 14. 49JR – Austen Figueroa [16]; 15. 2L – Joshua Shaw [11]; 16. 7B – Brian Peterson [5]

C Feature #2 (12 Laps): 1. 5 – Jerry Coons Jr [4]; 2. 3J – Josh Baughman [5]; 3. 7MF – Chance Morton [3]; 4. 29A – Anthony Nocella [1]; 5. 87C – David Camfield Jr [2]; 6. 2W – Wyatt Burks [11]; 7. 53 – Brett Wilson [10]; 8. 57 – Maria Cofer [9]; 9. 7D – Michelle Decker [16]; 10. 10W – Kyle Simon [8]; 11. 19P – Levi Curry [14]; 12. 22B – Troy Betts [15]; 13. 56X – Mark Chisholm [6]; 14. 84 – Shaun Shapel [7]; 15. 96 – Cody Brewer [12]; 16. 3T – Tim Barber [13]

Qualifying Race #1 (10 Laps): 1. 15H – Sam Hafertepe Jr [6]; 2. 15D – Andrew Deal [8]; 3. 02 – Robby Josett [3]; 4. 44 – Don Droud Jr [2]; 5. 17B – Tanner Berryhill [7]; 6. 20A – Shon Deskins [1]; 7. 2T – Davey Ray [9]; 8. 9 – Matt Moore [10]; 9. 57K – Kevin Studley [4]; 10. (DNF) 87 – Ryan Bernal [5]

Qualifying Race #2 (10 Laps): 1. 5X – Justin Peck [1]; 2. 25C – C.J. Leary [4]; 3. 41 – Jason Johnson [5]; 4. 24 – Tracy Hines [6]; 5. 7XX – Gage Walker [2]; 6. 11E – Cory Elliott [8]; 7. 6K – Josh Lakatos [10]; 8. 71X – Shane Cottle [7]; 9. 24F – Hunter Fischer [9]; 10. 01 – Sheldon Haudenschild [3]

Qualifying Race #3 (10 Laps): 1. 14C – Coleman Gulick [3]; 2. 71W – Christopher Bell [6]; 3. 1R – Thomas Meseraull [8]; 4. 00C – Grady Chandler [5]; 5. 92M – Josh Most [2]; 6. 45X – Bricen James [10]; 7. 51F – Hunter Schuerenberg [7]; 8. 8K – Frank Flud [4]; 9. 7Z – David Gough [1]; 10. (DNF) 91M – Chase Majdic [9]

Qualifying Race #4 (10 Laps): 1. 17W – Shane Golobic [2]; 2. 47 – Danny Stratton [5]; 3. 7A – Justin Allgaier [6]; 4. 55X – Ryan Smith [3]; 5. 76M – Brady Bacon [4]; 6. 05X – Stevie Sussex III [1]; 7. 68F – Tyler Seavey [8]; 8. 37X – Jake Blackhurst [10]; 9. 75D – Lee Dakus [7]; 10. (DNF) 15T – Tony Rossi [9]

B Feature #1 (15 Laps, Taking Top 4): 1. 7XX – Gage Walker [2]; 2. 11E – Cory Elliott [3]; 3. 51F – Hunter Schuerenberg [6]; 4. 2T – Davey Ray [5]; 5. 6K – Josh Lakatos [4]; 6. 8K – Frank Flud [7]; 7. 44 – Don Droud Jr [1]; 8. 24F – Hunter Fischer [11]; 9. 9 – Matt Moore [8]; 10. 38 – Kody Swanson [16]; 11. 57K – Kevin Studley [9]; 12. 76Z – Zane Lawrence [15]; 13. 7Z – David Gough [12]; 14. 6 – Bill Rose [14]; 15. 321 – Chad Winfrey [13]; 16. 75D – Lee Dakus [10]

B Feature #2 (15 Laps): 1. 76M – Brady Bacon [1]; 2. 45X – Bricen James [2]; 3. 5 – Jerry Coons Jr [13]; 4. 92M – Josh Most [3]; 5. 71X – Shane Cottle [7]; 6. 29A – Anthony Nocella [14]; 7. 05X – Stevie Sussex III [5]; 8. 7MF – Chance Morton [15]; 9. 20A – Shon Deskins [4]; 10. 91M – Chase Majdic [11]; 11. 37X – Jake Blackhurst [8]; 12. 01 – Sheldon Haudenschild [10]; 13. 68F – Tyler Seavey [6]; 14. 3J – Josh Baughman [12]; 15. (DNF) 87 – Ryan Bernal [9]; (DNS) 15T – Tony Rossi

A Feature (25 Laps): 1. 71W – Christopher Bell [2]; 2. 47 – Danny Stratton [3]; 3. 25C – C.J. Leary [7]; 4. 17W – Shane Golobic [10]; 5. 15D – Andrew Deal [4]; 6. 24 – Tracy Hines [9]; 7. 41 – Jason Johnson [8]; 8. 5 – Jerry Coons Jr [22]; 9. 5X – Justin Peck [12]; 10. 7XX – Gage Walker [17]; 11. 55X – Ryan Smith [15]; 12. 11E – Cory Elliott [19]; 13. 02 – Robby Josett [14]; 14. 45X – Bricen James [20]; 15. 17B – Tanner Berryhill [16]; 16. 14C – Coleman Gulick [6]; 17. 7A – Justin Allgaier [5]; 18. 1R – Thomas Meseraull [11]; 19. 15H – Sam Hafertepe Jr [1]; 20. 51F – Hunter Schuerenberg [21]; 21. 92M – Josh Most [24]; 22. 2T – Davey Ray [23]; 23. (DNF) 76M – Brady Bacon [18]; 24. (DNF) 00C – Grady Chandler [13]