Hustling Hagen Scores At Belle-Clair
BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Darren Hagen held off a strong challenge by Chris Bell in the closing laps to win the feature in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series, Honda USAC National Dirt Midgets and Badger Midgets tri-sanctioned event and Joe B. Miller drove to his eighth career victory in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series on Friday at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Hagen led the final 29 of 30 laps in his Liberty Village Esslinger-powered DRC, but was locked in a spirited battle with Bell’s Toyota-powered Bullet after a restart with seven laps remaining on the one-fifth mile track.
Bell began sliding under Hagen in turns one and two and nearly held the lead on the back straight on several attempts. But the veteran Hagen was able to get back to the throttle sooner than Bell and stay in front.
Bell’s best shot to overtake Hagen came on the 28th lap. They went side-by-side, Hagen on the inside, into turn three and he emerged ahead on the front straight. Instead of waiting for Bell to attack again, Hagen slid through turns one and two, bottom to top, and came out directly in front of Bell, who had gone to the top to try to pass. Bell was forced to lift and Hagen finished one car length in front of him.
“I knew if Bell did a big slide on me, I could have been in trouble,” Hagen said. “I did a big slide by myself to break his momentum. It’s something I learned from Dave Darland one year at the Four Crown Nationals.”
Hagen’s slide job in turns one and two on the 29th lap, Bell said, “Killed my momentum.”