|SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums|
The 21-year-old driver from Norman, Oklahoma has been racing for just over five years, but in that time has turned heads. The 2013 USAC National Midget Champion signed with Kyle Busch Motorsports the following year and racked up victories on both paved and dirt ovals, breaking through in the World of Outlaws at Jacksonville Speedway at mid-season. By 2015, when Busch moved Bell into the CARS Super Late Model Tour, he won three of his four series starts. Following Bell’s 5th-place run in his Truck Series debut at Iowa, Busch quickly moved Bell into Justin Boston’s #54 Toyota, which Bell took to victory at Eldora after a thrilling battle with MB Motorsports’ Bobby Pierce.
2016 marks Bell’s first full season in Truck Series competition. The year began with three bad runs in a row - a terrible flip coming out of the tri-oval on the final lap at Daytona, a crash while leading late at Atlanta, and two late accidents at Martinsville. In the three races that followed, however, Bell finished 4th at Kansas, 3rd at Dover, and 8th at Charlotte. Having vaulted from 21st to 9th in points heading into the seventh round at Texas, the goal was to break through with that first victory of the season and lock-up a spot in the Chase.
Bell ran 14th-fastest of 26 drivers in Thursday’s opening session, improved to 8th in Happy Hour, and ended up 9th in qualifying with a lap of 179.319 mph. Of the 34 entrants, the two drivers who missed the show were Norm Benning, who this time missed out on starting his first race of 2016 by 0.016 second, and Jennifer Jo Cobb, more than a mile an hour off the pace in her first DNQ since Daytona. Team owner Mark Rette also withdrew Jesse Little’s #30 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota earlier in the week.
Starting last on Friday was Tim Viens, who this week climbed behind the wheel of the #86 Team Manny / RaceDaySponsor.com Chevrolet previously driven by Brandon Brown and fielded by Brown’s family-owned team. This week, Brown’s entry was fielded by Mike Harmon, who has fielded #74 trucks for Viens in the past. Next week at Iowa, Harmon will partner with Faith Motorsports, who previously withdrew their #62 Property Pros / SMD Toyota for driver Donnie Levister at Martinsville, to give the Faith team its first Truck Series start. However, back at Texas, Viens did not stay last for long.
When the green flag flew on Friday night, Bell missed a shift and suddenly slowed, plummeting from the front of the pack. His truck pulled behind the wall without drawing the yellow, citing engine issues. Engine trouble also ended Carlos Contreras’ day four laps later, his #71 American Club Chevrolet scoring its first DNF since Martinsville. Ryan Ellis came home 30th for MAKE Motrosports, which this week resumed fielding the #1 CorvetteParts.net / Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Chevrolet after FDNY Racing’s Andy Seuss drove in the team’s place at Charlotte. 29th went to Viens in Harmon’s #86 followed by Mike Bliss, who crashed MB Motorsports’ unsponsored #63 on Lap 97.
*This marked the first last-place run for the #4 in Truck Series competition since November 10, 2006, when Chase Miller’s #4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge fielded by Bobby Hamilton Racing fell out with crash damage after 5 laps of the Casino Arizona 150 at Phoenix.
*Bell is the first Truck Series driver to fail to complete a lap of a Truck Series race since Caleb Roark (electrical issue) and Tyler Tanner (blown engine) pulled out on the opening lap of last fall’s Winstar World Casino and Resort 350 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Roark, who started one position behind Tanner, was given the last-place finish.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
32) #4-Christopher Bell / 0 laps / engine
31) #71-Carlos Contreras / 4 laps / engine
30) #1-Ryan Ellis / 30 laps / suspension
29) #86-Tim Viens / 56 laps / vibration
28) #63-Mike Bliss / 92 laps / crash
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES DRIVER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Tommy Joe Martins (2)
2nd) Christopher Bell, William Byron, Johnny Sauter, Austin Wayne Self, Andy Seuss (1)
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES OWNER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Kyle Busch Motorsports, Tommy Joe Martins (2)
2nd) AWS Racing, GMS Racing, Jim Rosenblum Motorsports / FDNY Racing (1)
2016 LASTCAR TRUCK SERIES MANUFACTURER'S CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (4)
2nd) Toyota (3)