Bell Collects $10,000 Gold Crown Prize

Bryan Clauson in victory lane at Tri-City Speedway. (Don Figler photo)
Chris Bell in victory lane at Tri-City Speedway. (Don Figler photo)

Once in the lead, Bell built huge leads, going through traffic with a steady diet of slide jobs. The race stayed green for 28 straight laps before caution. With 25 of the 27 starters running, there were only 11 on the lead lap for the lap 30 restart.

Bell had five lapped cars between him and the second-running Abreu and bolted away. Abreu was exiting turn four when teammate Tanner Thorson spun directly in front of him and they made contact. Abreu’s Bullet-Toyota flipped into the center of the track and Jake Blackhurst’s DRC-Esslinger couldn’t avoid the crash and flipped, too.

It brought out the red flag. Abreu went to the work area and was able to restart after repairs. He was running 11th, but at the back of the 24 cars still running. Blackhurst, a lap down, was also able to restart.

Bell opened up a half-lap lead over second-running Jerry Coons Jr., in seven laps following the restart. When the lapped Triple X-Esslinger of Tyler Thomas jumped the cushion in turn three, Coons’ Spike-Esslinger was collected to bring out the caution on the 43rd lap. Bell lost another half-lap lead.

Seven laps remained following the final restart. Chris Windom’s Beast-Esslinger was lined up directly behind Bell, who pulled away. Stratton had charged to third from 14th on the grid in Shane Hmiel Racing’s Beast-Esslinger and he took second with a slide job on Windom with six laps to go.

“I don’t know if I was near getting lapped at the yellow (at lap 30), but I thought I’d better get going,” Stratton said. “We did some adjustments under the red and they were the right ones. I found a unique line that worked best for my car. I was diamonding turn one and the track had taken rubber from turn two down the back stretch and I was sliding in turns three and four. It took me from eighth to second.

“Second doesn’t go on resumes but it was my first race with Shane’s team and it was pretty good. It’s a good group to work with and Levi Jones (former USAC National Sprint Car champ who retired in June) is a heck of a crew chief and Mark Gerard, Shane’s regular crew chief, is very good, too.”

Windom was disqualified in post-race inspection. Abreu finished third.

“I came back out after the red in 11th, but had to start at the rear of the field,” Abreu said. “I got some momentum going and ran the top. I’m not disappointed at all with third. We really have the best cars and the best crew chiefs. I’m just thankful to be driving for this team.”

It was the 20th victory of the season for the Kunz team. They celebrated with birthday cake for crew chief Pete Willoughby.

“It’s a big win for us, it’s Pete Willoughby’s birthday and I’m happy to win on it,” Bell said.

Aaron Andruskevitch passed Jason Harms in the final 10 yards to win the 15-lap feature by less than a foot in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series. It was Andruskevitch’s fourth career victory and denied Harms his first.

Harms led the opening 14 laps.

“I had the car dialed in, but on the last lap, I missed my line, slid up and knew Aaron would have just enough to beat me,” Harms said.