Bell Scores Seventh Consecutive Preliminary Feature Victory at the Chili Bowl Nationals

Tanner Thorson, Christopher Bell, and CJ Leary (Serena Dalhamer photo)

By T.J. Buffenbarger

TULSA (January 13, 2022) — TULSA, OK (January 13, 2022) – Christopher Bell made history during John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night on Thursday during the 36th Chili Bowl Nationals by winning a preliminary feature for the seventh straight year at the Tulsa Expo Raceway. Bell also continued the streak of Keith Kunz Motorsports winning preliminary features at the 2022 edition of the Chili Bowl as his teammates had won the previous three preliminary main events.

Bell and Tanner Thorson staged a thrilling late race battle for the win over the closing laps with C.J. Leary right on both of their back bumpers. Bell started to roll the bottom late in the feature and made the right moves to hold Thorson at bay.

For Bell it was another victory in front of his home crowd at the event he grew up attending.

“I mean, first off, I gotta say damn, I love the Chili Bowl! I hope you guys enjoyed that one,” Bell said about the exciting main event. “I had to work for that one. Tanner (Thorson) was really good on the top, but l he could go really either place and C.J. (Leary) was good on the bottom. That was that was a hell of a race and a lot of fun.”

Golobic and Crews started front row for the 30-lap feature. After the first start was nullified by a caution flag Golobic led Tanner Thorson and crews. Crews was the first to go to the top of the racetrack to briefly challenge Thorson for second. Shortly after Thorson moved to the top of the track as well and started putting pressure on Golobic for the lead.

On lap five Thorson made the move stick crossing racing lines with Golobic off turn four being completing a successful slide job through turns one and two.

On lap eight Emerson Axsom suffered his second spin of the feature event and collected Maria Cofer, Brody Fuson, and Joe B Miller between turns one and two, bringing out another caution flag.

After the restart Leary asserted himself using the bottom to drive by Bell and Crews to take over the third spot on lap nine. One lap later Leary drove by Golobic for second as another caution flag appeared for Danny Stratton and Spencer Bayston stopped backwards in turnt wo.

After being briefly challenged for third position by Crews, Bell moved back to the top of the racetrack and drove around Golobic to take the third position on lap 16. Two laps later Bell drove by Leary for second off turn four and started to chase down Thorson.

After briefly being held up in slower traffic, a pair of caution flags appeared for Frankie Guerrini and Crews. The caution appeared again after completing lap 24 when Andrew Deal, Mitchell Davis, and Damion Gardner all ended up flipping in turn three.

Following this caution the epic race for the win took place. Thorson pulled away while Bell briefly left the door open on the bottom of the track for Leary to sneak under him. Bell quickly closed the door and was able to catchup to Thorson.

Bell setup a slide job with four laps to go to get by Thorson, but Thorson went back to the top in turns three and four and pulled back alongside Bell. After driving side by side through turns one and two Thorson tried to cross lines, but Thorson could not make that work as Bell drove to the lead with two laps to go.

Thorson had another run inside of Bell going into turn three as both drives made slight contact going into the corner with Bell holding the lead. Bell was able to keep Thorson’s final surge at the top of the race track at bay to pick up the victory. Leary held on for third position while Tim Buckwalter charged from 20th starting position to finish fourth. Golobic rounded out the top five.

After driving for different teams at the Chili Bowl, Bell seemed pleased to be back in a car driving for Keith Kunz Motorsports, and the combination seems to be paying dividends late in main events at the Tulsa Expo Raceway.

“All week long I feel like I’ve struggled on the on the wet tracks and especially whenever they put their feature set up and I just I really struggled to get going for the first couple and then there at the end like I feel good I can really run the bottom nice and I feel really good on the top too,” said Bell. “For whatever reason this package that these guys are running is really making it good whenever the track really slicks off and the curve gets really big and the bottom gets thin.”

Both Bell and Thorson shook hands immediately after the feature in a great sign of sportsmanship. Thorson was obviously disappointed with second, but still seeing the big picture of being locked into Saturday’s finale.

Bell is one of the biggest bad asses as a midget, so hats off to him, Keith Kunz, and that whole team. They earned that one,” said Thorson of the late race battle between himself and Bell. “I was I was trying my ass off there and just came up a little bit short.”

36th Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire
John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night
Tulsa Expo Raceway
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Wednesday, January 13, 2022

Heat Race #1 (8 Laps)
1. 2G-JJ Yeley[1]
2. 2D-Matt Sherrell[3]
3. 5K-Ben Worth[5]
4. 60-Cody Gardner[2]
5. 74-Drew Rader[7]
6. 2S-Travis Scott[9]
7. 78M-Merle Scherb[6]
8. 10T-Brandon Thomas[8]
9. 71G-Damion Gardner[4]

Heat Race #2 (8 Laps)
1. 29-Tim Buckwalter[1]
2. 19T-Tanner Thorson[9]
3. 20G-Noah Gass[2]
4. 75X-Alex Vande Voort[6]
5. 79K-Larry Webster[5]
6. 4Z-Nate Barger[8]
7. 8G-Austin Shores[7]
8. 72X-Chris Tarrant[4]
9. 15W-Danny Burke[3]

Heat Race #3 (8 Laps)
1. 77-Stevie Sussex III[2]
2. 60M-Earl McDoulett Jr[1]
3. 7D-Michelle Decker[4]
4. 4A-Dillon Silverman[8]
5. 14M-Dylan Bloomfield[5]
6. 23B-Brian Bell[7]
7. 14X-Chad Boespflug[9]
8. 715-Robert Bell[6]
9. 7JR-JD Black[3]

Heat Race #4 (8 Laps)
1. 17W-Shane Golobic[6]
2. 4M-Brody Fuson[3]
3. 3B-Zach Blurton[1]
4. 68W-Shane Cottle[8]
5. 7NZ-Travis Buckley[2]
6. 3F-Tim Barber[4]
7. 91-Jeff Stasa[5]
8. 93-Kyle Bellm[7]
DNS: 18C-Ryan Moser

Heat Race #5 (8 Laps)
1. 71W-Christopher Bell[4]
2. 57B-Daniel Robinson[2]
3. 71R-Frankie Guerrini[3]
4. 15D-Andrew Deal[5]
5. 0T-Alex Schriever[8]
6. 08B-Austin Barnhill[7]
7. 0K-Don O’Keefe Jr[1]
8. 73X-Colby Johnson[9]
9. 17M-Jeremy Hill[6]

Heat Race #6 (8 Laps)
1. 51B-Joe B Miller[2]
2. 81X-Dillon Welch[4]
3. 39B-Emerson Axsom[7]
4. 53R-Sean Robbins[1]
5. 69-Cody Hays[5]
6. 63H-Larry Petersen[6]
7. 84J-Jesse Shapel[3]
8. 44C-Tristan Lee[8]
9. 2A-Rickie Gaunt[9]

Heat Race #7 (8 Laps)
1. 25B-Steve Buckwalter[3]
2. 21H-Brady Bacon[5]
3. 9-Mitchell Davis[7]
4. 2E-Whit Gastineau[8]
5. 8AJ-AJ Johnson[4]
6. 35L-Carson McCarl[2]
7. 31S-Ray Seach[6]
8. 20H-Noah Harris[1]

Heat Race #8 (8 Laps)
1. 86-Brent Crews[3]
2. 1S-Spencer Bayston[4]
3. 55V-CJ Leary[7]
4. 71E-Mariah Ede[2]
5. 10C-Dalton Camfield[6]
6. 98B-Joe Boyles[5]
7. 51J-AJ Hernandez[8]
8. 21D-Justin Dickerson[1]

Heat Race #9 (8 Laps)
1. 22T-Don Droud Jr[1]
2. 47X-Danny Stratton[5]
3. 57-Maria Cofer[6]
4. 17B-Ryan Bickett[3]
5. 15X-Carson Garrett[7]
6. 17E-Blake Edwards[2]
7. 6C-Collin Rinehart[8]
8. 17J-Frank Beck[4]

Qualifier #1 (10 Laps)
1. 86-Brent Crews[5]
2. 81X-Dillon Welch[3]
3. 19T-Tanner Thorson[6]
4. 2E-Whit Gastineau[1]
5. 9-Mitchell Davis[4]
6. 29-Tim Buckwalter[2]
7. 57B-Daniel Robinson[7]
8. 3B-Zach Blurton[9]
9. 10C-Dalton Camfield[10]
10. 0T-Alex Schriever[8]

Qualifier #2 (10 Laps)
1. 17W-Shane Golobic[6]
2. 55V-CJ Leary[4]
3. 2D-Matt Sherrell[1]
4. 1S-Spencer Bayston[3]
5. 71R-Frankie Guerrini[8]
6. 21H-Brady Bacon[5]
7. 22T-Don Droud Jr[2]
8. 74-Drew Rader[9]
9. 60M-Earl McDoulett Jr[7]
10. 60-Cody Gardner[10]

Qualifier #3 (10 Laps)
1. 4M-Brody Fuson[1]
2. 71W-Christopher Bell[6]
3. 57-Maria Cofer[3]
4. 47X-Danny Stratton[5]
5. 77-Stevie Sussex III[4]
6. 4A-Dillon Silverman[2]
7. 71E-Mariah Ede[10]
8. 2S-Travis Scott[9]
9. 7D-Michelle Decker[7]
10. 20G-Noah Gass[8]

Qualifier #4 (10 Laps)
1. 39B-Emerson Axsom[5]
2. 68W-Shane Cottle[2]
3. 15D-Andrew Deal[8]
4. 51B-Joe B Miller[4]
5. 2G-JJ Yeley[3]
6. 5K-Ben Worth[1]
7. 17B-Ryan Bickett[9]
8. 75X-Alex Vande Voort[7]
9. 4Z-Nate Barger[10]
10. 25B-Steve Buckwalter[6]

D-Main #1 (10 Laps)
1. 91-Jeff Stasa[1]
2. 71G-Damion Gardner[8]
3. 93-Kyle Bellm[3]
4. 7JR-JD Black[9]
5. 17J-Frank Beck[5]
6. 21D-Justin Dickerson[7]
7. 715-Robert Bell[4]
8. 73X-Colby Johnson[6]
9. 10T-Brandon Thomas[2]

D-Main #2 (10 Laps)
1. 20H-Noah Harris[6]
2. 44C-Tristan Lee[2]
3. 0K-Don O’Keefe Jr[3]
4. 2A-Rickie Gaunt[5]
5. 18C-Ryan Moser[9]
6. 72X-Chris Tarrant[4]
7. 84J-Jesse Shapel[1]
8. 17M-Jeremy Hill[7]
9. 15W-Danny Burke[8]

C-Main #1 (12 Laps)
1. 14M-Dylan Bloomfield[2]
2. 14X-Chad Boespflug[5]
3. 53R-Sean Robbins[1]
4. 71G-Damion Gardner[12]
5. 15X-Carson Garrett[3]
6. 3F-Tim Barber[8]
7. 23B-Brian Bell[4]
8. 78M-Merle Scherb[10]
9. 17E-Blake Edwards[9]
10. 51J-AJ Hernandez[7]
11. 91-Jeff Stasa[11]
12. 63H-Larry Petersen[6]

C-Main #2 (12 Laps)
1. 8AJ-AJ Johnson[3]
2. 8G-Austin Shores[9]
3. 20H-Noah Harris[11]
4. 44C-Tristan Lee[12]
5. 08B-Austin Barnhill[4]
6. 79K-Larry Webster[1]
7. 6C-Collin Rinehart[7]
8. 31S-Ray Seach[10]
9. 35L-Carson McCarl[8]
10. 69-Cody Hays[2]
11. 7NZ-Travis Buckley[5]
12. 98B-Joe Boyles[6]

B-Main #1 (15 Laps)
1. 77-Stevie Sussex III[1]
2. 71R-Frankie Guerrini[2]
3. 71G-Damion Gardner[16]
4. 25B-Steve Buckwalter[7]
5. 57B-Daniel Robinson[5]
6. 2G-JJ Yeley[3]
7. 14X-Chad Boespflug[14]
8. 20G-Noah Gass[12]
9. 71E-Mariah Ede[6]
10. 14M-Dylan Bloomfield[13]
11. 4A-Dillon Silverman[4]
12. 2S-Travis Scott[9]
13. 75X-Alex Vande Voort[8]
14. 53R-Sean Robbins[15]
15. 4Z-Nate Barger[11]
16. 7D-Michelle Decker[10]

B-Main #2 (15 Laps)
1. 21H-Brady Bacon[2]
2. 29-Tim Buckwalter[3]
3. 22T-Don Droud Jr[5]
4. 2E-Whit Gastineau[1]
5. 3B-Zach Blurton[7]
6. 17B-Ryan Bickett[6]
7. 5K-Ben Worth[4]
8. 0T-Alex Schriever[11]
9. 60M-Earl McDoulett Jr[9]
10. 8G-Austin Shores[14]
11. 20H-Noah Harris[15]
12. 44C-Tristan Lee[16]
13. 10C-Dalton Camfield[10]
14. 60-Cody Gardner[12]
15. 8AJ-AJ Johnson[13]
16. 74-Drew Rader[8]

A-Main (30 Laps)
1. 71W-Christopher Bell[4]
2. 19T-Tanner Thorson[3]
3. 55V-CJ Leary[6]
4. 29-Tim Buckwalter[20]
5. 17W-Shane Golobic[1]
6. 21H-Brady Bacon[18]
7. 81X-Dillon Welch[7]
8. 2D-Matt Sherrell[14]
9. 39B-Emerson Axsom[5]
10. 22T-Don Droud Jr[22]
11. 68W-Shane Cottle[11]
12. 1S-Spencer Bayston[15]
13. 25B-Steve Buckwalter[23]
14. 51B-Joe B Miller[13]
15. 9-Mitchell Davis[16]
16. 71R-Frankie Guerrini[19]
17. 47X-Danny Stratton[10]
18. 15D-Andrew Deal[9]
19. 71G-Damion Gardner[21]
20. 86-Brent Crews[2]
21. 77-Stevie Sussex III[17]
22. 4M-Brody Fuson[8]
23. 57-Maria Cofer[12]
24. 2E-Whit Gastineau[24]