Christopher Bell took the lead on lap 13 and never looked back in earning his ninth consecutive Turnpike Challenge victory at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League’s season opening event at Creek County Speedway, Thursday night.
The triumph is the third national midget car feature of the year for Bell and marks the 54th of his career, all with Toyota power. The Norman, Oklahoma, native also won his third consecutive Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa in January. The victory is the seventh national midget car win for a Toyota-powered driver in 2019.
Thursday night’s action began with Bell’s Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) teammate Tanner Carrick taking the early lead from the pole position, followed by Zeb Wise in second and Bell in third on the opening lap. Bell quickly moved up to second and then set his sights on his teammate.
Carrick continued to lead through lap 12 when Bell moved under the 17-year old coming out of turn two, then cleared him heading into turn three with Wise making it a three-car battle for the lead. As they went into turn one on the following lap, Bell and Carrick appeared to make contact with Carrick coming to a stop bringing out a yellow. He would restart from the back of the field.
As Carrick fell back, fellow KKM driver Logan Seavey moved into the top five as the leaders stuck to the cushion all around the quarter-mile track. He quickly climbed up into the top three by lap 14 as the field was slowed by another caution.
On the restart, Bell would start to pull away from the field as he registered his quickest lap of the day on lap 16. The NASCAR Xfinity star maintained the top spot as the laps began to wind down. Behind him, Seavey passed Wise for the second spot on lap 22 of 30. Further back, fellow Toyota drivers Tyler Thomas, Tucker Klaasmeyer and Jerry Coons, Jr., had climbed into the fourth through sixth positions.
A late yellow would bunch the field one more time, leaving a three-lap shootout for the victory. Once again, Bell pulled out to the lead running the cushion, while Seavey began to explore the bottom of the track, but to no avail as Bell took a comfortable lead. At that point, it was a battle for second as Wise slipped past Seavey on lap 29.
That’s the way they would finish as Bell took the checkered flag, with Wise, Seavey, Thomas and Klassmeyer, who started at the tail end of the field in 23rd, rounding out the top five.
Coons would place eighth to give Toyota five of the top-eight finishers. Behind them were Carrick, who rebounded to finish 11th, Zach Daum in 13th, Blake Hahn in 14th, Cannon McIntosh finished 15th, Holley Hollan was 17th and Cole Bodine placed 20th. Overall, 59 cars were entered in Thursday night’s event.
The POWRi Turnpike Challenge heads to I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City for races on Friday and Saturday night before concluding at Port City Raceway on Sunday.
|Finish||Toyota Feature Results at Creek County|
|A Main – 1st||Christopher Bell|
|A Main – 3rd||Logan Seavey|
|A Main – 4th||Tyler Thomas|
|A Main – 5th||Tucker Klaasmeyer|
|A Main – 8th||Jerry Coons Jr.|
|A Main – 11th||Tanner Carrick|
|A Main – 13th||Zach Daum|
|A Main – 14th||Blake Hahn|
|A Main – 15th||Cannon McIntosh|
|A Main – 17th||Holley Hollan|
|A Main – 20th||Cole Bodine|
|B Main||Daison Pursley|
|B Main||Sterling Cling|
|B Main||Kaylee Bryson|
|B Main||Mark Chisholm|
|C Main||Presley Truedson|
|C Main||Jesse Colwell|
Toyota Racing PR