DUQUOIN, Ill. — Chris Bell has been sensational in his first full season driving a midget, winning the Honda USAC National Midget Dirt championship and four features in a partial schedule in POWRi Lucas Oil National Midgets.
The 18-year-old from Norman, Okla., will be racing to add the fourth annual Great Clips Battle at the Center, an all-star type non-points event promoted by POWRi, to his list of victories on Dec. 7 on the one-sixth Mini Magic Mile at the Southern Illinois Center.
“The Battle at the Center is always tough with large car counts and it’s always getting bigger and better,” Bell said. “Your car can get trapped in a hard heat race and get buried in the field. You need some luck. I had a ton of fun last year (finishing 13th in the feature). It’s really a fun race, the track is really fun and (POWRi co-founder) Kenny Brown does an awesome job with the track. It would be a cool race to win.”
Bell didn’t have a Midget win prior to 2013. Bell was a surprise choice to move into a Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports’ Bullet-Toyota, one of the prized rides in Midget racing, for the 2013 season to race primarily for the USAC crown and run a large chunk of the POWRi schedule. He has seven USAC victories going into Thursday’s Turkey Night Grand Prix at Perris (Calif.) Auto Speedway, the final event of the USAC season.
“I owe it all to Keith,” Bell said. “What he’s done for me has allowed me to show what I can do. Winning the USAC championship is really cool. It’s been kind of like a dream come true. When I was running Micros, I would get on the Internet and watch USAC and dream about running with the best of the best and now I’m racing with the guys I used to look up to as a little kid.”
With Kunz preparing for the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl in January, Bell will be driving a Spike-Toyota, one of Austin Brown’s KBR Racing cars, in the Battle of the Center. Bell will rejoin Kunz in the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Okla.
“It will be different driving one of the KBR cars instead of Keith’s, but I’m sure the KBR team will do an awesome job,” Bell said. “It will get me ready for the indoor season.”
Before he reached full-time status in Midgets, the biggest victory of Bell’s career was in the 66 Mike Phillips Memorial in a $10,000-to-win POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series event at Southern Illinois Raceway in Marion in 2011.
“It definitely helped put me on the map,” Bell said. “Any time you race for $10,000, it’s a big deal. It was the first time it brought attention to me in the Micros. It helped calm me down in the car, knowing I could lead and win with that kind of money on the line. It was a big confidence builder.”
The Battle at the Center on Dec. 7 will have a 40-lap feature and will be broadcast on MAVTV American Real on a date to be determined.