Bell Rallies from Tenth to Win POWRi Opener at Port City!

The Wheatley Chronicles – Volume III, No. 17

Lonnie Wheatley, TULSA, Okla. (March 20, 2015) – Starting a handful of rows deep in the season-opening POWRi Midget feature event? No problem for Norman, OK, native Christopher Bell, who rallied from the tenth starting position to win Friday night’s opening leg of Port City Raceway’s Second Annual Turnpike Challenge.

Third on a lap 19 restart, Bell battled past both Kevin Thomas, Jr., and race-long leader Andrew Felker at the midway point and led the final half of the 40-lapper atop the high-banked, 1/8-mile clay oval to best a POWRi record outdoor field of 69 entries.

“Man, I just love this place,” Bell said in victory lane after making it three POWRi wins in a row at Port City after sweeping last year’s pair of Turnpike Challenge events. “It’s a finesse place but you also have to be aggressive with it, it’s just a fun place.”

While Felker gunned into the lead from the pole position, Bell needed less than ten laps to work into the top five and found himself in third when the race’s first caution flew after 15 laps when second-runner Darren Hagen ran afoul of a lapped car in turn one.

After the second caution flew three laps later for Don Droud, Jr., in turn three, Thomas, Jr., made a run at Felker for the lead with a slider into turn three. Bell sliced underneath both of them exiting turn four and never looked back, flirting with a treacherous turn three cushion all the way to victory lane aboard the Toyota-powered Keith Kunz Motorsports No. 67 Bullet.

“That was a man’s track right there, that was fun,” Bell said afterward.

Teammate Thomas, Jr., followed Bell past Felker and chased the rest of the way to give Kunz a one-two sweep with Felker settling for the show position.

Tanner Thorson raced from 15th to fourth with reigning POWRi champ Zach Daum rounding out the top five.

Port City Raceway’s Second Annual Turnpike Challenge concludes on Saturday night with POWRi Midget and Winged Outlaw Micro Sprints.

The Vitals…

Series: POWRi Midgets

Track: Port City Raceway (Tulsa, OK)

Car Count: 69

Heat Winners (starting position in parentheses): Chance Morton (5), Seth Motsginger (3), Andrew Felker (7), Payton Pierce (3), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (4), Spencer Bayston (1), Brad Loyet (2), Darren Hagen (1), Geoff Ensign (1).

Heat Moments: Tanner Thorson was forced pitside after an opening lap incident in the first of nine heats with Don Droud, Jr., climbing a tire and flipping before getting to the green flag in the fourth heat. Both drivers worked through Non-Qualifier action and raced through the Qualifiers to make the “A’ Main. Cody Brewer raced from non-qualifier action as well to the feature.  

Non-Qualifier Winners (starting position in parentheses): Cody Brewer (11), Blake Edwards (2).

Qualifying Race Winners (starting position in parentheses): Andrew Felker (1), Darren Hagen (6), Kevin Thomas, Jr. (1).

Qualifying Race Moments: With the top seven from each qualifying race advancing to the feature, fourth-starter Christopher Bell moved in to challenge Felker for the lead only to spin in turn four with 11 of 20 laps in the books. While Felker held off Loyet for the win, Bell rallied back through the field to finish third behind Daum. Darren Hagen emerged from a heated three-way duel with Alex Sewell and Danny Smith to win the second qualifier as Daniel Robinson and Don Droud, Jr., came away with the final transfers as a half dozen cars diced for two positions. Thomas, Jr., had the third qualifier well in hand, taking the win ahead of “Human Highlight Reel” Geoff Ensign from sixth and Blake Hahn from 11th.

“A” Main Cautions: Just two stoppages in the 40-lapper, the first after Darren Hagen and Chance Morton tangled in turn one with 15 laps down and the final yellow three laps later when Droud, Jr., came to a stop in turn three.

“A” Main Hard Charger: After going from 13th to second in his non-qualifier and 14th to fifth in qualifying race action, Tanner Thorson passed the most feature cars by climbing from 15th to fourth.

The Box Score…

Heats… Top 39 in Passing Points to 3 Qualifiers, Balance to 2 Non-Qualifiers

Heat One (10 Laps): 1. 7m-Chance Morton, 2. 22-Andy Malpocker, 3. 4m-Michelle Decker, 4. 22d-David Stephenson, 5. 4F-Chad Frewaldt, 6. 8m-Kade Morton, 7. 6r-Colin Smith, 8. 67-Tanner Thorson.

Heat Two (10 Laps): 1. 2-Seth Motsinger, 2. 5$-Danny Smith, 3. 4c-Chadd Howell, 4. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 5. 23-Hannah Adair, 6. 12J-Jay Mounce, 7. 5x-Justin Peck, 8. 3d-Dave McKay (DNS).

Heat Three (10 Laps): 1. 11a-Andrew Felker, 2. 97-Ryan Robinson, 3. 3T-Kevin Battles, 4. 3r-Daniel Robinson, 5. 87F-Andrew Deal, 6. 16-Nigel Calvert, 7. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer, 8. 7-Austin Brown.

Heat Four (10 Laps): 1. 18p-Payton Pierce, 2. 9$-Kyle Clark, 3. 75-Tommy Barber, 4. 11c-Chett Gehrke, 5. 68-John Hunt, 6. 44-Wesley Smith, 7. 44x-Don Droud, Jr., 8. 3n-Jake Neuman.

Heat Five (10 Laps): 1. 67k-Kevin Thomas, Jr., 2. 83-Jonathan Halford, 3. 8-Alex Sewell, 4. 93k-Riley Kreisel, 5. 17e-Blake Edwards, 6. 89-Nick Bailey, 7. 96-Cody Brewer, 8. 24T-Kyle Schmidt.

Heat Six (10 Laps): 1. 39-Spencer Bayston, 2. 8J-Jonathan Beason, 3. 5-Zach Daum, 4. 5c-Colten Cottle, 5. 35-Matt Sherrell, 6. 59-Grady Chandler, 7. 1ou-A.J. Burns, 8. 9u-Doug McCune (DNS).

Heat Seven (10 Laps): 1. O5-Brad Loyet, 2. 71-Christopher Bell, 3. 8k-Blake Hahn, 4. 85-Matt Johnson, 5. 52-Anton Hernandez, 6. 62-Jacob Davis, 7. 24-Hunter Fischer (DNS).

Heat Eight (10 Laps): 1. 17-Darren Hagen, 2. 14e-Eric Fenton, 3. 88-Terry Babb, 4. 14r-Jody Rosenboom, 5. 77k-Katlynn Leer, 6. 12m-Tyler Shoemaker, 7. 7F-Brian McClelland (DNS).

Heat Nine (10 Laps): 1. 3f-Geoff Ensign, 2. 9k-Kyle Schuett, 3. 21-Ty Hulsey, 4. 7jr-Robert Black, 5. 17T-Travis Scott, 6. 7x-Jordan McPherson, 7. 313-Mitchell Frewaldt.

First Non-Qualifier (15 Laps – 3 advance to Qualifiers): 1. 96-Cody Brewer, 2. 67-Tanner Thorson, 3. 44x-Don Droud, Jr., 4. 89-Nick Bailey, 5. 22d-David Stephenson, 6. 4F-Chad Frewaldt, 7. 68-John Hunt, 8. 6r-Colin Smith, 9. 12m-Tyler Shoemaker, 10. 12J-Jay Mounce, 11. 7x-Jordan McPherson, 12. 44-Wesley Smith (DNS), 13. 1ou-A.J. Burns (DNS), 14. 9u-Doug McCune (DNS).

Second Non-Qualifier (15 Laps – 3 advance to Qualifiers): 1. 17e-Blake Edwards, 2. 5x-Justn Peck, 3. 93k-Riley Kreisel, 4. 27-Tucker Klaasmeyer, 5. 17T-Travis Scott, 6. 24T-Kyle Schmidt, 7. 16-Nigel Calvert, 8. 59-Grady Chandler, 9. 3n-Jake Neuman, 10. 7-Austin Brown, 11. 62-Jacob Davis, 12. 313-Mitchell Frewaldt, 13. 77k-Katlynn Leer, 14. 3d-Dave McKay (DNS).

First Qualifier (20 Laps – Top 7 advance to “A” Main): 1. 11a-Andrew Felker, 2. O5-Brad Loyet, 3. 5-Zach Daum, 4. 71-Christopher Bell, 5. 8J-Jonathan Beason, 6. 96-Cody Brewer, 7. 9k-Kyle Schuett, 8. 3T-Kevin Battles, 9. 18-Tony Bruce, Jr., 10. 11c-Chett Gehrke, 11. 97-Ryan Robinson, 12. 23-Hannah Adair, 13. 87F-Andrew Deal, 14. 39-Spencer Bayston, 15. 5x-Justin Peck.

Second Qualifier (20 Laps – Top 7 advance to “A” Main): 1. 17-Darren Hagen, 2. 8-Alex Sewell, 3. 5$-Danny Smith, 4. 35-Matt Sherrell, 5. 4m-Michelle Decker, 6. 3r-Daniel Robinson, 7. 44x-Don Droud, Jr., 8. 14e-Eric Fenton, 9. 17e-Blake Edwards, 10. 2-Seth Motsinger, 11. 4c-Chadd Howell, 12. 14r-Jody Rosenboom, 13. 75-Tommy Barber, 14. 7c-Chance Morton, 15. 7jr-Robert Black.

Third Qualifier (20 Laps – Top 7 advance to “A” Main): 1. 67k-Kevin Thomas, Jr., 2. 3f-Geoff Ensign, 3. 8k-Blake Hahn, 4. 5c-Colten Cottle, 5. 67-Tanner Thorson, 6. 18p-Payton Pierce, 7. 21-Ty Hulsey, 8. 52-Anton Hernandez, 9. 85-Matt Johnson, 10. 9$-Kyle Clark, 11. 93k-Riley Kreisel, 12. 22-Andy Malpocker, 13. 83-Jonathan Halford, 14. 8m-Kade Morton, 15. 88-Terry Babb.

“A” Main Finish (40 Laps): 1. 71-Christopher Bell (10), 2. 67k-Kevin Thomas, Jr. (3), 3. 11a-Andrew Felker (1), 4. 67-Tanner Thorson (15), 5. 5-Zach Daum (7), 6. 3F-Geoff Ensign (6), 7. 35-Matt Sherrell (8), 8. 8k-Blake Hahn (9), 9. O5-Brad Loyet (4), 10. 17-Darren Hagen (2), 11. 8J-Jonathan Beason (13), 12. 3r-Daniel Robinson (17), 13. 96-Cody Brewer (16), 14. 8-Alex Sewell (5), 15. 21-Ty Hulsey (21), 16. 5$-Danny Smith (11), 17. 7-Austin Brown (23), 18. 4m-Michelle Decker (14), 19. 9k-Kyle Schuett (19), 20. 7m-Chance Morton (22), 21. 5c-Colten Cottle (12), 22. 44x-Don Droud, Jr. (20), 23. 18p-Payton Pierce (18).

Provisional starters: 7m-Chance Morton, 7-Austin Brown.

Lap leaders: Andrew Felker 1-18, Christopher Bell 19-40.