Midgets: Christopher Bell wins Chili Bowl
Christopher Bell (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Christopher Bell took on the Chili Bowl Nationals in his home state of Oklahoma and came away with the Golden Driller trophy on Saturday night for winning the multi-night midget event.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Bell said. “I watched a lot of Chili Bowl film last week, just because I was really excited, and I really love this race. I watched the 1994 Chili Bowl where (Andy) Hillenberg won it, and then watched just about every one in between that. And no other Oklahoma guy had ever done it. To be able to do it is awesome.”
In addition to being a fellow-Oklahoman, Hillenberg also is a former NASCAR driver.
Bell’s victory Saturday night was the third-straight for Keith Kunz Motorsports. Another parallel — Hillenberg also drove for KKM for his 1994 Chili Bowl win.
Another Oklahoman, Daryn Pittman, finished second.
“It’s hard to be disappointed with second with 375 cars that were here,” Pittman said. “They knew we were here. I felt like I kept trying to keep them honest. We were good. We had a really good race car. I could keep pace with him (Bell), even catch him a little bit. I just didn’t know how to pull off the move.”
Pole-sitter Justin Grant was third, Tanner Thorson fourth, and Jake Swanson rounded out the top-five.
“In years past, it’s been attack, attack, attack,” Bell said. “This year, it didn’t have to be that way. I just ran hard enough to stay in position but not get into trouble. I was able to ride behind Justin, there, for awhile. I knew the bottom was slowing down quite a bit, and I kept trying the top. I tried it two times, and I almost got passed, so I knew it was going to be a matter of too early or too late at the top. I started to watch the big screen. Pittman was running the top at the time. I knew he was in eighth, and I looked up, and he was third or fourth, so I knew I had to go. Once I went, I was able to squeak by Justin on the straightaway, and then, it was a matter of just not screwing up.”