Bell Thrills Sold-Out Jacksonville Crowd
JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — Christopher Bell may have had less experience than the pair of World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series champions chasing him Wednesday night, but the 20-year-old Oklahoman’s knowledge of Jacksonville Speedway made the difference.
Driving the Fox No. 53, Bell led all 40 laps of the first WoO event in the history of the quarter-mile dirt track to collect his first World of Outlaws victory and become th 13th different winner in the series this season.
Bell started on the pole and kept defending series champion Daryn Pittman and five-time title winner Donny Schatz behind him the full distance.
Bell won a POWRi midget race at Jacksonville two weeks earlier.
“This is a dream come true,” said the defending Honda USAC Dirt Midget champion. “I can’t thank Brad Fox enough for allowing me to get behind the wheel of this car.
“We had some opportunities this year. We were in lapped traffic both nights at Eldora and I will admit I am not the best half-mile racer, but I have plenty of laps around this place and I really enjoy these small tracks.”
Bell led a one-two sweep for drivers from Oklahoma.
“These guys are my heroes and to beat Daryn Pittman is great,” Bell said. “It says a lot about the guys from Oklahoma.”
Pittman finished a distant second as the entire field ran single file through the final 10 laps of the event after the bottom groove took rubber.
“You could see the track get cleaner and you knew it was only a matter of time before it laid rubber,” Pittman explained. “I really thought it would lay rubber around the top or just off of our left rear. I was really surprised it laid it around the bottom. Chris was trying to get around some lapped cars and he was way faster than them five laps before he got to them than when he got to them.
“I got to the bottom before he did, but he got there. He’s an extremely talented kid. Not bad for a couple Oklahoma guys. There wasn’t any doubt he was going to win one of these races sooner or later.”
Schatz, the fast qualifier for the 40-car field, finished third with Brad Sweet and Cody Darrah rounding out the top five.
Pittman’s runner-up finish pushed him into the point lead by five points over Schatz. Joey Saldana and Paul McMahan, the co-point leaders entering the night, each had trouble during the event with Saldana crashing during hot laps and having to race a back up car and McMahan involved in an accident early in the feature.
A sold-out crowd of approximately 1,500 was on hand.
Jeff Leka claimed the modified feature.