POWRi Season Launches with Turnpike Challenge in OKC

Cody Morris, OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (March 22, 2017) – In just four days, a raging nexus of open wheel stars from across the country will converge on Oklahoma City for the premier outdoor racing event in Sooner Country.

Formerly held at Tulsa’s Port City Raceway, the Turnpike Challenge will be bigger than ever before as it grows into I-44 Riverside Speedway’s 1/5th mile, high banked red clay oval.

Bigger still, as the Lucas Oil POWRi National and West Midget Series remain the headlining division, but for the first time ever the Speedway Motors POWRi Outlaw Micro Series will join the Turnpike Challenge lineup for their inaugural trip to Oklahoma.

Bigger still by two, as the Non Wing 600cc micro sprints will join Friday Night’s program before adding their tops for winged A Class competition on Saturday.

Bigger now by millions, as the 4th Annual Turnpike Challenge marks the first ever nationally televised event in the 19 year history of I-44 Riverside Speedway, with both nights of action to be featured on MavTV.

The 4th Annual Turnpike Challenge begins with a practice night next Thursday, March 23rd, followed by two nights’ of electrifying open wheel action on Friday, March 24th and Saturday, March 25th, respectively.

The 4th Annual Turnpike Challenge offers up a bevy of storylines, none bigger than the grand homecoming for Norman, Oklahoma’s Christopher Bell. If you don’t know that name, then you’re probably new to racing and we are thrilled to welcome you and acquaint you with this remarkable young racer.

Bell began his racing career before he was 8 years old, starting in I-44 Riverside Speedway’s Junior Sprint division, then the bigger Restricted 600cc class, then in 2009 began cutting his chops with a group of micro racers that time proved to be the best in the country. Some enthusiasts remember his dominant Lucas Oil ASCS2 Non Wing Championship in 2010. The following two years saw Bell win just about every big micro sprint show in the region.
Bell transitioned to the larger Midget and sprint cars and steadily began proving his talents to be tops even at the premier levels of dirt oval racing. Whether it was prestigious 360/410ci sprint car events (with or without the wing, pick your poison with Bell), or the wingless Midget action made increasingly famous by the annual Chili Bowl Nationals held in Tulsa each January.

In 2013, Bell replaced Kyle Larson (another NASCAR star from an open wheel dirt oval background) in the Keith Kunz Motorsports stable. That same year, Bell won the USAC National Midget Championship. The following year, Bell won his first World of Outlaws sprint car series race in Jacksonville, Illinois.

Christopher Bell made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in 2015 driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, scoring his first NASCAR victory in the first ever NASCAR Truck Series race held on dirt at Tony Stewart’s famed Eldora Raceway in Rossburg, Ohio. A moment that still makes the vast majority of dirt fans and racers reflect with great pride as the Oklahoma small car/dirt oval phenom electrified the racing world with slide-jobs galore.
Bell scored an 8th place finish later that fall at Texas Motor Speedway (where he will head for pavement and dirt fun two weeks after his homecoming).

2016 was another breakthrough year for Christopher Bell, as he scored his 2nd career NASCAR Truck success in “Drivin’ for Linemen 200” at Illinois’ Gateway Motorsports Park. His first full-time attempt at the NASCAR Truck Series title yielded 9 total top five finishes and Bell vying for the title in the closing laps of the season finale at Homestead Miami, ultimately finishing 3rd in season points.

Christopher Bell’s ascension has continued in 2017 as he became the first Sooner State driver to claim the prestigious Chili Bowl Midget Nationals since Andy Hillenburg’s 1994 score. On MavTV’s live broadcast, an emotional Christopher Bell reflected on how much the Chili Bowl win meant to a son of Sooner State dirt racing.

Oh, but wait there is still more. Bell overcame last year’s horrifying Daytona crash to finish 8th in this year’s Daytona opener. He then went on decimate the field just a few weeks ago at Atlanta International, winning all three segments of the new, polarizing race format.

This is just a short summary of the rising star that is Christopher Bell. Actually, some of us were calling him a rising star when he was besting the top micro drivers in the country, at this point Christopher Bell has become a star at not just in the dirt racing world, but climbing the ranks as a rising star in NASCAR – just like his former Keith Kunz counterpart Kyle Larson, and like Larson, it won’t be long before you see Christopher Bell at the very top echelon of NASCAR.

This will be Bell’s triumphant return to his home track, his first race at I-44 Riverside since 2012. All of Oklahoma should welcome one of our state’s very best athletes at his homecoming this Friday and Saturday. It is also worth noting that Bell has won 2 of the first 3 TPC events!

We have tons of storylines we will be sharing and championing as each day takes us closer to next weekend’s Turnpike Challenge. The following is an arching summary of the best race that the Sooner State will produce for the rest of 2017.

The 4th Annual Turnpike Challenge

Thursday, March 23rd: Practice
*Gates open at 330pm
*Practice (open to all classes) 6pm-9pm
*All Pit Passes $20
*Grandstand Admission is Free

Friday, March 24th: 4th Annual Turnpike Challenge Night 1 featuring the Lucas Oil POWRi National/West Midget Series, the Speedway Motors POWRi National Outlaw Micro Series, and the Non-Wing 600’s
*Gates Open at 2pm
*Driver’s Meeting at 530pm immediately followed by wheel pack and hot laps
*Races Start at 7pm
*All Pit Passes $30
*Driver Pit Passes $30 per class
*Grandstand Admission $15

Saturday, March 25th: 4th Annual Turnpike Challenge Night 2 featuring the Lucas Oil POWRi National/West Midget Series, the Speedway Motors POWRi National Outlaw Micro Series, and the winged A Class 600’s
*Gates Open at 230pm
*Driver’s Meeting at 515pm immediately followed by wheel pack and hot laps
*Races Start at 630pm
*All Pit Passes $30
*Driver Pit Passes $30 per class
*Grandstand Admission $15

For more information regarding the Lucas Oil POWRi National or West Midget Series and the Speedway Motors POWRi National Micro Series, visit www.powri.com.

For more information regarding I-44 Riverside Speedway, Like/Follow I-44 Riverside Speedway on Twitter and Facebook, or visit our new website at www.i44riversidespeedway.com.

For e-mail contact, please send to i44riversidespeedway@gmail.com

For direct contact, please call or text the speedway at 405.633.1583 or co-promoter/PR Director Cody Morris at 405.641.4139.