Johnson and Bell Top Western World Opener!

Christopher Bell. - Bill Miller Photo
After winning Thursday night's USAC National Midget feature win at Canyon Speedway Park's 46th Annual Western World Championships, Christopher Bell is joined on the podium by runner-up Brady Bacon (left) and Bryan Clauson (right).  (Patrick Shaw photo)
After winning Thursday night’s USAC National Midget feature win at Canyon Speedway Park’s 46th Annual Western World Championships, Christopher Bell is joined on the podium by runner-up Brady Bacon (left) and Bryan Clauson (right). (Patrick Shaw photo)

From Lonnie Wheatley


Peoria, AZ — (November 14, 2013) — R.J. Johnson and Christopher Bell took top honors as the 46th Annual Sands Chevrolet Western World Championships presented by Racers Advantage Store kicked off Thursday night atop the 1/3-mile Canyon Speedway Park clay oval.

While Johnson fought off several challengers en route to wiring the field in the 30-lap USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Car feature event, Bell took advantage of a miscue by stablemate Tanner Thorson eight laps into the 30-lap Honda USAC National Midget feature event to pad his series points lead.

With Johnson and Bell scoring wins in the 46th Western World opener, Brady Bacon was one of four drivers pulling double-duty on the night and responded with runner-up finishes in both Sprint Car and Midget competition.

USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Cars:

With approximately half the Sprint Car field taking to the track for Thursday night’s qualifier, current USAC Southwest Sprint Car points leader Johnson earned the pole position for the 30-lap main event by accumulating the most points through heat race and qualifying race action.

After fellow front row starter Michael Colegrove jumped into the lead on the original start only to have it negated when Ronnie Clark and Dalten Gabbard had issues in turns three and four, Johnson gunned into the start on the second try and led all the way for his 11th overall win of the year in wingless 360 Sprint Car action.

Though he led every lap, he had his hands full most of the way with Bacon, Jerry Coons, Jr., and Dave Darland ultimately locking into Saturday night’s $7,500 to win WWC championship feature as well by virtue of finishing among the top four.

With Johnson leading the way, Darland pressured much of the way until seventh-starter Bacon took advantage of lapped traffic to take command of second on the 19th lap. Following a caution one lap later, Bacon, the two-time Western World non-wing Sprint Car, champion kept the pressure on but was unable to take the top position away from Johnson.

R.J. Johnson topped the USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Car preliminary feature at Canyon Speedway Park's 46th Annual Western World Championships ahead of Brady Bacon (left) and Jerry Coons, Jr. (right).  (Patrick Shaw photo)
R.J. Johnson topped the USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Car preliminary feature at Canyon Speedway Park’s 46th Annual Western World Championships ahead of Brady Bacon (left) and Jerry Coons, Jr. (right). (Patrick Shaw photo)

After cracking the top five by the twelfth round, Coons, Jr., assumed the fourth position on the 20th round when fourth-runner Colby Copeland tangled with a lapped car and was forced pitside. Coons, Jr., battled past Darland in the closing laps for the show position with Darland settling for the fourth and final lock-in position to Saturday’s main event.

After a slow start to the night, Aaron Reutzel bounced back to win the “B” Main and then charged from 16th to round out the top five in the “A” Main. Colegrove was sixth with 16th-starter Stevie Sussex, Bradley Terrell, Gary Taylor and Thomas Ogle completing the top ten.

Colegrove, Coons, Jr., and Mike Bonneau topped Thursday night’s Sprint Car heat race action with Darland, Copeland and Ogle victorious in “B” Main action before Reutzel won the “B” Main.

The second half of the Sprint Car field that approximately numbers 50 will tackle the 1/3-mile Canyon Speedway Park on Friday night with the top four locking into Saturday’s main event.

Honda USAC National Midgets:

Closing in on his first USAC National Midget championship, Norman, Oklahoma’s Christopher Bell paced the final 23 rounds of Thursday night’s 30-lap main event to put himself in prime position for a Western World title after claiming Belleville Midget Nationals and Gold Crown Nationals honors earlier in the season.

After starting third, Bell chased Keith Kunz Racing teammate Tanner Thorson for seven rounds before a turn two bobble by Thorson opened the door.

Bell led the rest of the way for his 18th overall win of 2013 and tenth in Midget competition.

While the 18-year-old had the race well in hand for the most part, seventh-starter Brady Bacon and 12th-starter Bryan Clauson used the upper portion of turns three and four to rally past Darren Hagen for second and third, respectively, in the final half-dozen laps and closed the gap on Bell only to come up short at the line.

Bacon diced much of the way for position with Thorson, who eventually looped it in turn two after 19 laps, and Hagen before taking command of second on the 24th lap. Running a similar line to Bacon on the top side of three and four, Clauson raced by Hagen one lap later for third.

Hagen, who moved into second behind Bell when Thorson bobbled on lap eight, settled for fourth after holding the second position 17 laps with Rico Abreu bouncing back from an early incident to round out the top five.

Tracy Hines was sixth, with Zach Daum rallying from 22nd for seventh. Dave Darland crossed the stripe eighth with Brad Kuhn and Mike Spencer completing the top ten.

After Hines topped Thursday night’s 31-car field with a new track record of 13.874 seconds in qualifying, heat races victories went to Andrew Felker, Spencer, Hagen and Clauson before Bacon won the “B” Main.

The full field of Midgets will resume action on Friday night with combined points from both nights setting the stage for Saturday’s championship finale with the top eight in total points locked into the main event.

The 46th Annual Western World Championships resumes on Friday night with another full card of Honda USAC National Midgets and the second half of the USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Car field with racing action going green at 7:00 p.m.

46th Annual Sands Chevrolet Western World Championships presented by Racers Advantage Store

Thursday Night Results:

Honda USAC National Midgets:

Qualifying: 1. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-13.874; 2. Brady Bacon, 99, Bacon-13.893; 3. Darren Hagen, 56, 5IVE-6IX-13.910; 4. Rico Abreu, 67k, Kunz-14.010; 5. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz-14.011; 6. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-14.084; 7. Caleb Armstrong, 7c, C& A-14.097; 8. Dave Darland, 73, Ford-14.129; 9. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz-14.145; 10. R.J. Johnson, 51, Martin-14.147; 11. Ronnie Gardner, 68, Six-Eight-14.164; 12. Bryan Clauson, 39, Tucker/BCI/Curb-Agajanian-14.232; 13. Parker Price-Miller, 9p, Ronk-14.256; 14. Taylor Ferns, 55, Ferns-14.261; 15. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-14.276; 16. Chris Windom, 3, RFMS-14.304; 17. Andrew Felker, 11a, Felker-14.315; 18. Mike Spencer, 57, Ecker-14.325; 19. Dalton Armstrong, 7a, C & A-14.342; 20. Nick Drake, 55x, Cline-14.382; 21. Stevie Sussex, 1az, Sussex-14.489; 22. Jake Swanson, 05, Swanson/VanDyne-14.515; 23. Brad Kuhn, 10, Cook-14.517; 24. Trey Marcham, 37, McQueen-14.545; 25. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-14.613; 26. Kyle Edwards, 39, Edwards-14.647; 27. Bobby East, 4, Klatt-14.698; 28. Terry Goodwin, 2G, Goodwin-14.748; 29. Aaron Reutzel, 91a, Thomas-14.768; 30. Rick Shuman, 22az, Shuman-14.853; 31. Josh Pelkey, 12jr, Allen-15.021.

First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 11a-Andrew Felker, 2. 71-Christopher Bell, 3. 24-Tracy Hines, 4. 67-Tanner Thorson, 5. 9p-Parker Price-Miller, 6. 5d-Zach Daum, 7. 91a-Aaron Reutzel, 8. 1az-Stevie Sussex.

Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 57-Mike Spencer, 2. 55-Taylor Ferns, 3. 51-R.J. Johnson, 4. 7-Shannon McQueen, 5. 05-Jake Swanson, 6. 39x-Kyle Edwards, 7. 22az-Rick Shuman. DNS: 99-Brady Bacon.

Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 56-Darren Hagen, 2. 10-Brad Kuhn, 3. 91T-Tyler Thomas, 4. 68-Ronnie Gardner, 5. 7c-Caleb Armstrong, 6. 12jr-Josh Pelkey, 7. 4-Bobby East, 8. 7a-Dalton Armstrong.

Fourth Heat (8 Laps): 1. 39-Bryan Clauson, 2. 3-Chris Windom, 3. 55x-Nick Drake, 4. 67k-Rico Abreu, 5. 37-Trey Marcham, 6. 73-Dave Darland, 7. 2g-Terry Goodwin.

“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 99-Brady Bacon, 2. 73-Dave Darland, 3. 7c-Caleb Armstrong, 4. 9p-Parker Price-Miller, 5. 5d-Zach Daum, 6. 37-Trey Marcham, 7. 05-Jake Swanson, 8. 12jr-Josh Pelkey, 9. 39x-Kyle Edwards, 10. 4-Bobby East, 11. 91a-Aaron Reutzel, 12. 7a-Dalton Armstrong, 13. 22x-Rick Shuman. DNS: 2g-Terry Goodwin, 1az-Stevie Sussex.

“A” Feature (30 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 67-Christopher Bell (3), 2. 99-Brady Bacon (7), 3. 39-Bryan Clauson (12), 4. 56-Darren Hagen (5), 5. 67k-Rico Abreu (4), 6. 24-Tracy Hines (6), 7. 5d-Zach Daum (22), 8. 73-Dave Darland (9), 9. 10-Brad Kuhn (20), 10. 57-Mike Spencer (18), 11. 7c-Cale Armstrong (8), 12. 51-R.J. Johnson (10), 13. 67-Tanner Thorson (1), 14. 55x-Nick Drake (19), 15. 11a-Andrew Felker (17), 16. 7-Shannon McQueen (2), 17. 68-Ronnie Gardner (11), 18. 9p-Parker Price-Miller (13), 19. 37-Trey Marcham (21), 20. 91T-Tyler Thomas (15) 21. 3-Chris Windom (16), 22. 55-Taylor Ferns (14).

Lap Leaders: Tanner Thorson 1-7, Christopher Bell 8-30.

USAC Southwest vs. USAC West Coast Sprint Cars:

First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 17m-Michael Colegrove, 2. 9p-Parker Price-Miller, 3. 20-Shon Deskins, 4. 6-Ronnie Clark, 5. 73-Dave Darland, 6. 68-Gary Taylor, 7. 12j-Josh Grady, 8. 57-Stevie Sussex.

Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 4g-Jerry Coons, Jr., 2. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 3. 2x-Josh Shipley, 4. 9-Ryan Linder, 5. 74-Colby Copeland, 6. 57x-James Aragon, 7. 53-Tom Lee, 8. 7k-Bruce St. James, 9. 26-Connor Kassik.

Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 29-Mike Bonneau, 2. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 3. 99-Brady Bacon, 4. 5v-Bradley Terrell, 5. 48-Thomas Ogle, 6. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 7. 21a-Aaron Reutzel, 8. 98x-Joe Ramaker, 9. 02-Matt Rossi.

Qualifying Races (Top 16 in combined passing points from heats and qualifiers to “A” Main; Balance to “B” Main):

First Qualifying Race (8 Laps): 1. 73-Dave Darland, 2. 68-Gary Taylor, 3. 50-Charles Davis, Jr., 4. 6-Ronnie Clark, 5. 4g-Jerry Coons, Jr., 6. 99-Brady Bacon, 7. 53-Tom Lee, 8. 26-Conner Kassik, 9. 12j-Josh Grady.

Second Qualifying Race (8 Laps): 1. 74-Colby Copeland, 2. 5v-Bradley Terrell, 3. 77m-R.J. Johnson, 4. 8-Bob Ream, Jr., 5. 57-Stevie Sussex, 6. 21a-Aaron Reutzel, 7. 02-Matt Rossi, 8. 2x-Josh Shipley, 9. 29-Mike Bonneau.

Third Qualifying Race (8 Laps): 1. 48-Thomas Ogle, 2. 20-Shon Deskins, 3. 17m-Michael Colegrove, 4. 9-Ryan Linder, 5. 9p-Parker Price-Miller, 6. 5d-Dalten Gabbard, 7. 7k-Bruce St. James, 8. 57x-James Aragon, 9. 98x-Joe Ramaker.

“B” Feature (12 Laps): 1. 21a-Aaron Reutzel, 2. 5d-Dalten Gabbard, 3. 7k-Bruce St. James, 4. 2x-Josh Shipley, 5. 29-Mike Bonneau, 6. 12j-Josh Grady, 7. 57x-James Aragon, 8. 53-Tom Lee, 9. 26-Conner Kassik, 10. 02-Matt Rossi, 11. 98x-Joe Ramaker.

“A” Feature (30 Laps – Starting position in parentheses): 1. 77m-R.J Johnson (1), 2. 99-Brady Bacon (7), 3. 4g-Jerry Coons, Jr. (8), 4. 73-Dave Darland (5), 5. 21a-Aaron Reutzel (17), 6. 17m-Michael Colegrove (2), 7. 57-Stevie Sussex (16), 8. 5v-Bradley Terrell (9), 9. 68-Gary Taylor (12), 10. 48-Thomas Ogle (10), 11. 9p-Parker Price-Miller (11), 12. 8-Bob Ream, Jr. (15), 13. 7k-Bruce St. James (19), 14. 2x-Josh Shipley (20), 15. 6-Ronnie Clark (13), 16. 12j-Josh Grady (22), 17. 20-Shon Deskins (3), 18. 74-Colby Copeland (6), 19. 9-Ryan Linder (14), 20. 29-Mike Bonneau (21), 21. 50-Charles Davis, Jr. (4), 22. 5d-Dalten Gabbard (18).

Lap Leaders: R.J. Johnson 1-30.