Bell Keeps On Rolling In Arizona

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Christopher Bell (center) dominated the midget portion of Thursday's Western World Championships. He is joined on the podium by runner-up Brady Bacon (left) and third-place Bryan Clauson. (Patrick Shaw photo)
Christopher Bell (center) dominated the midget portion of Thursday's Western World Championships. He is joined on the podium by runner-up Brady Bacon (left) and third-place Bryan Clauson. (Patrick Shaw photo)
Christopher Bell (center) dominated the midget portion of Thursday’s Western World Championships. He is joined on the podium by runner-up Brady Bacon (left) and third-place Bryan Clauson. (Patrick Shaw photo)

PEORIA, Ariz. — Christopher Bell took top honors as the 46th annual Sands Chevrolet Western World Championships presented by Racers Advantage Store kicked off Thursday night at Canyon Speedway Park.

Closing in on his first USAC National Midget championship, Bell paced the final 23 rounds of Thursday night’s 30-lap event to put himself in prime position for a Western World title after claiming Belleville Midget Nationals and Gold Crown Nationals honors earlier in the season.

After starting third, Bell chased Keith Kunz Racing teammate Tanner Thorson for seven rounds before a turn two bobble by Thorson opened the door.

Bell led the rest of the way for his 18th overall victory of 2013 and 10th in midget competition.

While the 18-year-old had the race well in hand for the most part, seventh-starter Brady Bacon and 12th-starter Bryan Clauson used the upper portion of turns three and four to rally past Darren Hagen for second and third, respectively, in the final half-dozen laps and closed the gap on Bell only to come up short at the line.

Bacon diced much of the way for position with Thorson, who eventually looped it in turn two after 19 laps, and Hagen before taking command of second on the 24th lap.  Running a similar line to Bacon on the topside of three and four, Clauson raced past Hagen one lap later for third.

Hagen, who moved into second behind Bell when Thorson bobbled on lap eight, settled for fourth after holding the second position 17 laps with Rico Abreu bouncing back from an early incident to round out the top five.

Tracy Hines was sixth, with Zach Daum rallying from 22nd for seventh.  Dave Darland crossed the stripe eighth with Brad Kuhn and Mike Spencer completing the top 10.

Hines topped Thursday night’s 31-car field with a track record of 13.874 seconds on the third-mile dirt oval.