Christopher Bell claims 2017 Chili Bowl victory – Nascar

Christopher Bell rang in the start of his 2017 season with perhaps the biggest win of his burgeoning racing career — the 31st annual Chili Bowl.

 

Bell, a full-time driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, won what many consider to be the world’s most prestigious Midget Car race after midnight ET on Sunday morning. Over the course of a week, he outlasted 364 other drivers who entered — a Chili Bowl record — and ended Rico Abreu’s two-year reign as champion.

 

Bell is regarded as one of the finer dirt racers in the country, and he was equally adept on pavement as well. The 22-year-old advanced to the Championship Round in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase as a full-time rookie in 2016. In 2015, he won at Eldora Speedway in his third career series start.

 

Making the victory even sweeter is that Bell is an Oklahoma native — he was born in Norman, about 125 miles southwest of the event site in Tulsa.

 

“Oh my God, I just won the Chili Bowl,” Bell said after climbing out of his machine. ” “This was a long time coming and a dream come true.”

 

 

Daryn Pittman, a fellow Oklahoma native, finished second to Bell with Justin Grant, Tanner Thompson and Jake Swanson rounding out the top five.

 

In all, four drivers with recent NASCAR experience qualified for the championship race.

 

Abreu finished 11th after starting 25th in the 25-driver championship field, needing a champion’s provisional to make the final field.

 

Roush Fenway Racing‘s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 16th and Chase Briscoe, the newest full-time driver for Brad Keselowski Racing, was 22nd.

 

The Chili Bowl is a week-long event with five days of practice and qualifying events to set the 25-car field for the A-Main, which is the championship race.

 

Saturday started with two O-Feature races — the top four finishers from each O-Feature event advanced to the corresponding N-Feature races. Then the top four finishers from each N-Feature race advance into the M-Feature races. The format was used all the way up to the A-Main finale, although drivers also could qualify for the A-Main throughout the week.

 

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson, who has stayed behind the wheel all offseason, including a racing trip to Australia — failed to advance to the championship race after making the A-Main for five consecutive years.

 

Abreu did not make it out of the F-Feature due to a tire issue, but he received a past champion’s provisional. Stenhouse Jr., another Chili Bowl veteran, won his B-Feature to advance into the championship race.

 

Justin Allgaier, who will drive in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for JR Motorsports in 2017, was ousted after the C-Feature. His most eventful moment of the week, though, came Friday when his car flipped on the last lap of his race.

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