Jacksonville, IL — (June 6, 2015) — Christopher Bell of Norman, Oklahoma took his third POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series victory of the 2015 season and his 18th career, for the thrilling second night of Illinois SPEED Week presented by Toyota at Jacksonville Speedway in Jacksonville, Illinois.
For the second night in a row, Tyler Thomas of Owasso, Oklahoma started on the pole in the Bryan Thomas-owned Esslinger-powered #91T Spike Chassis, sharing the front row with Tanner Thorson of Minden, Nevada. As the engines roared to life at the drop of the green flag, Tyler Thomas was barely able to edge Tanner Thorson to lead lap one. As the duo headed into turn one, Thorson slid Thomas for the lead and the control of lap two, just as Andrew Felker’s Stanton-powered BOSS Chassis would come to a stop, bringing out the first caution of the evening. As Thorson led the field back to green flag racing, Thomas, Darren Hagen, and Bryan Clauson would battle for positions second through fourth. On lap seven, Tanner Thorson would close on Thomas enough to be able to retake the lead.
With nine laps in the books, Hayden Williams would bring out the yellow as his machine would suffer a flat right front and right rear after contact with the wall off turn two. As the green flew for the restart, Thomas would remain firmly out front on the cushion as Darren Hagen launched his assault for the second position. However, the battle would be short lived as Hagen would spin it around after contact with another car. With ten laps down, Thomas would show the way back to green flag racing while Thorson, Spencer Bayston and Clauson battle for the second position. Five laps later, Brad Mosen of Auckland, New Zealand would bring out another caution as his machine would end up stopped in turns three and four.
As the veteran driver Bryan Clauson sat in second position behind Thomas, the field would resume racing and Clauson would make his move for the lead. On lap 17 Clauson would take over the lead from Tyler Thomas, while Colten Cottle would come to slow in turn one bringing out another caution. This time Clauson would show the way with Thomas in tow, while Christopher Bell would cruise in the third position after starting 21st. Comfortably out front, Clauson would start to pull away until Spencer Bayston slowed off turn two with a flat left rear tire. With 18 down, Clauson would power back to the curb, ultimately making contact with the wall through turns one and two, flattening the right rear tire. Coming off turn two, Clauson would slow quickly, almost collecting the second and third place machines of Tyler Thomas and Christopher Bell, bringing out the caution.
With 19 laps down and inheriting the lead, Tyler Thomas would show the way, but Christopher Bell would power into the lead to hold point for lap 20. On lap 21, Justin Peck of Monrovia, Indiana would slide off the track along the front stretch, but try to keep going, ultimately making contact with the leading edge of the wall entering turn two, sending Peck’s machine into a harrowing flip before coming to rest along the outside of turn one. Peck would be alright, but the damage to his machine would force an end to his evening.
With Christopher Bell’s Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports Toyota-powered Bullet holding the lead, Bell’s machine would flex its muscles as it took off with teammate Thorson in second and Rico Abreu in third. As Bell pulled away, Rico Abreu would pull off with a flat right rear tire and be done for the night. On lap 26 Tyler Thomas would bring out the yellow after contact with the wall in turns one and two flattening his right rear tire. As the drivers lined up under caution, Tanner Thorson would relinquish the second position to Kyle Schuett of Philo, Illinois as Thorson had also suffered a flat right rear tire.
Coming back to green nobody would have anything for Bell as he clearly dropped off his room key at the front desk and checked out. The battle for second through fourth was hot right up to the finish as Payton Pierce took over the second position from Schuett on lap 29, while Austin Brown attempted to challenge Schuett for third in the final turn, but would be unable to make it stick off turn four. Rounding out the top five was Darren Hagen.
“I just can’t say enough about Keith Kunz,” said first place finisher Christopher Bell. “Come out here and I struggled all night, spun out in my heat race and almost missed the race there in the b-main. Coming out here, I was just hoping for a top ten. To win was unbelievable. I love coming here.”
“This is just a testament to how hard Tim and Tyler worked on these cars to make sure they’re running at their peak,” said second place finisher Payton Pierce, with a career best finish. “We caught a few breaks there to get up that far. But we’ll take it. I saw Bryan [Clauson] go out with a cut tire, I saw Spencer [Bayston] go out with a cut tire, and I was hoping that wouldn’t happen to us, and luckily it didn’t’. I just thank the Lord we’re up here.”
“I can’t say enough about the BOSS Chassis guys and KBR Performance,” said third place finisher Kyle Schuett, also with a career best finish. “Flea, Corey, Chris D and my awesome teammates Seth Motsinger, Darren Hagen and Austin Brown; they do a lot for me and I’m very fortunate to be where I’m at.”
Ford Heat Race Winners: Heat 1: 11A – Andrew Felker, Heat 2: 5X – Justin Peck, Heat 3: 91T – Tyler Thomas, Heat 4: 63 – Bryan Clauson, Heat 5: 39 – Spencer Bayston, Heat 6: 5C- Colten Cottle
Great Clips Semi-Feature Winners: Semi 1: 2X – Ryan Bernal, Semi 2: 7 – Austin Brown
Toyota Feature Winner: 71 – Christopher Bell
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series Feature Results (30 laps): 1. 71 – Christopher Bell, 2. 18P – Payton Pierce, 3. 9K – Kyle Schuett, 4. 7 – Austin Brown, 5. 17 – Darren Hagen, 6. 39 – Spencer Bayston, 7. 2X – Ryan Bernal, 8. 88N – Tyler Nelson, 9. 55 – Nick Knepper, 10. 63 – Bryan Clauson, 11. 5C – Colten Cottle, 12. 79J – Jacob Patton, 13. 3N – Jake Neuman, 14. 91 – Dereck King, 15. 2 – Seth Motsinger, 16. 91T – Tyler Thomas, 17. 67 – Tanner Thorson, 18. 1NZ – Brad Mosen, 19. 97K – Rico Abreu, 20. 5X – Justin Peck, 21. 22 – Andy Malpocker, 22. 27NZ – Hayden Williams, 23. 11A – Andrew Felker