Christopher Bell passed Tanner Thorson with a slider through turn two to take the lead on lap 27 of 30 and then went on to win the John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night, Saturday’s A Main feature at the 36th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals. Toyota-powered drivers have now won all four A Main Qualifying Night events this week.
The victory marked Bell’s seventh consecutive qualifying night feature win and his eighth in the last nine years. Bell is now tied with Sammy Swindell for the most career preliminary night feature wins. Overall, it’s Bell’s 58th career national midget feature win, the most by any Toyota-powered drivers.
Bell started the race on the outside of the second row and would slip back to fifth in the early going as Shane Golobic would lead the first four laps before Thorson overtook him for the top spot on lap five.
Bell began to move up as the race neared the midway point, passing fellow Toyota driver Brent Crews for fourth on lap 14, then climbing to third on lap 16 over Golobic and up to second two laps later, overtaking C.J. Leary.
From that point on, he set his sights on Thorson and was able to close, but Thorson would eventually move up to the top to take away Bell’s line. He was able to make a big run at Thorson on a late restart but clipped the berm.
Bell stayed right on his tail, though, and with just four laps remaining, Bell would throw a slider low through turn two to take the lead. Thorson attempted to come back underneath, but Bell held him off as he would lead the final four laps to register the fourth straight win of the week for Keith Kunz Motorsports and Toyota.
Overall, six Toyota drivers advanced to Thursday’s A Main. Joining Bell were Dillon Welch, who placed seventh, Spencer Bayston in 12th, Joe B. Miller finished 14th, with Brent Crews in 20th and Brody Fuson coming home in 22nd.
This year’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals features a record 395 entries – each fighting for one of the 24 openings in Saturday night’s “A Main” feature event. Qualifying wraps up Friday night with 10 Toyota drivers scheduled to run. Through four nights, Toyota-powered drivers have captured five of the eight A Main berths awarded for finishing in the top two on their qualifying night.
Christopher Bell, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “Tanner was doing a good job on the restarts. I was trying to time it. I got going really good on the top midway through the race. Tanner moved up and took my line away, so I had to run the bottom. I felt like I could have passed him on the second from last restart, but then I caught the berm. It’s crazy to have won eight preliminary night features. Everyone knows how easy it is to have something happen and take you out of it. I’m very thankful I’ve been able to do it.”
|Toyota Thursday Results||Finished|
|Christopher Bell||A Main – 1st|
|Dillon Welch||A Main – 7th|
|Spencer Bayston||A Main – 12th|
|Joe B. Miller||A Main – 14th|
|Brent Crews||A Main – 20th|
|Brody Fuson||A Main – 22nd|
|Mariah Ede||B Main – 8th|
|Noah Harris||B Main – 11th|
|Austin Barnhill||C Main – 5th|
|Justin Dickerson||D Main – 6th|
Toyota Racing PR