BELLEVILLE, Ill. – When it comes to modern day midget racing, arguably no statistic is as impressive as the numbers behind Christopher Bell’s dominance inside his home state of Oklahoma.
Over the years, Bell has competed in eight POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League races in the Sooner State, and he was won all eight races. Yes, you read that right. He has never lost a Turnpike Challenge event.
When the sixth annual edition of the Turnpike Challenge later this week, Bell will be back behind the wheel with the potential to make it 12-for-12. Driving for Keith Kunz Motorsports, Bell will be piloting a Spectra Premium, Bullet-by-Spike/Toyota No. 21.
In the previous five years of the Turnpike Challenge, Bell has held victory lane hostage with weekend sweeps in 2014, ’15, ’17 and ’18. He was unable to attend in 2016, but even down two starts, his numbers are far superior to that of the competition. Along with his perfect 1.000% batting average with eight wins in eight starts, Bell has been out front 62 percent of the time, leading 174 laps out of a possible 280.
To fully grasp not only the dominance, but the meaning behind his historic run, you have to look at Bell’s roots as a young racer growing up in Oklahoma. The Norman, Okla., native turned his first laps at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City in a Jr. Sprint and as his career progressed, he moved into the micro sprint ranks at I-44. Soon, he began traveling to Port City Raceway in Tulsa, Creek County Speedway in Sapulpa and Will Rogers Raceway in Claremore, among other tracks.
His meteoric rise as a NASCAR Xfinity Series star has moved the 24-year old to North Carolina, but his annual return to the Turnpike Challenge brings him back to his Oklahoma roots each March.
Through five years, the Turnpike Challenge has annually been a doubleheader spent at one track, but that has changed this year. Set to be the biggest Turnpike Challenge in history, this year’s event pits the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League vs. the POWRi Lucas Oil West Midget League for four nights at three different tracks.
The campaign will start with a wildcard as the POWRi National Midgets visit Creek County Speedway in Sapulpa, Okla., for the first time in league history on Thursday, March 21. On Friday and Saturday, March 22-23, Bell returns home to I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City where his four most recent Turnpike Challenge wins have come. The week will conclude at Port City Raceway in Tulsa on Sunday, March 24, where his first four Turnpike Challenge wins occurred.