Bell Collects $10,000 Gold Crown Prize
PONTOON BEACH, Ill. — Chris Bell drove to a runaway victory to earn $10,000 in the fifth annual DuPont Gold Crown Midget Nationals in a 50-lap feature co-sanctioned by the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and the Honda USAC National Dirt Midget Series on Sunday at three-eighths-mile Tri-City Speedway.
The fifth-starting Bell passed Bryan Clauson for the lead on the 10th lap and wasn’t challenged to the checkered flag. The 18-year-old from Norman, Okla., led by half a lap twice before cautions and he won by half the distance of the front stretch over runner-up Danny Stratton in his Toyota-powered Bullet for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports.
“He was in a world of his own,” Kunz said.
It was Bell’s fourth POWRi and fifth USAC triumph in national midgets this season. He’s running for the USAC championship and the win boosted his lead over Clauson to 103 points, 899-793.
“It was a matter of getting to the top as quickly as I could,” Bell explained. “I have to thank Keith Kunz. That car was on a rail and all I had to do was not make a mistake. The car wasn’t that good in the dash and it came to life in the feature.”
Bell had been one of six drivers based on points from the Gold Crown features on Thursday, won by Rico Abreu, and Friday, won by Clauson, to race in an eight-lap dash to determine the starting order of the front three rows. Clauson won and Abreu was second in the dash.
Bell climbed to third on the opening lap and passed teammate Abreu on the fourth lap for second. He began attacking Clauson’s Curb Records Spike-Esslinger with slide jobs on the eighth lap and passed him in turns one and two on the ninth.
“I slid him (Clauson) the first time and he crossed me,” Bell said. “The second time I slid him, we went side-by-side on the front stretch and I drove around him (on the outside) in turns one and two.”