Bell Ready For Barber 250 Leeds, AL (7 April 2010) - From winning the first race of the year to setting new track records in qualifying, Matt Bell's 2009 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season marked countless new benchmarks as he...
Bell Ready For Barber 250
Leeds, AL (7 April 2010) - From winning the first race of the year to setting new track records in qualifying, Matt Bell's 2009 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season marked countless new benchmarks as he emerged as a championship contender in his first season of Grand Sports (GS) competition.
While the pole positions and race victories garnered much of the attention, Bell's race at Barber Motorsports Park last season netted a less obvious line on his resume as he finished, rather than started, the race.
Urged to swap his qualifying duties for the "closer" job by none other than co-driver Boris Said, Bell's run to the Barber podium was only interrupted by a late stop for a spash of fuel as he took fifth at the finish. The Barber weekend saw him double up as he also scored a top ten when he closed the race in ST competition as well.
As Bell looks ahead to this weekend's Barber Park 200, he knows that no matter if Stevenson Motorsports asks him to qualify or close, he'll be ready to go. This weekend, Bell will once again share the driving duties in the Sunoco Fuels-livered Chevrolet Camaro with Jeff Buknum as the two target improvement on their season-opening run to fifth place at Daytona International Speedway. But as GRAND-AM continues to target an evolution of the competitive balance, the Camaro might still need some help as several GS machines still boast impressive power to weight advantages compared to the Camaro.
"Barber is a beautiful track, but we have our expectations in check a little bit for the weekend," said Bell. "I know that Stevenson will do a great job, and we should be able to get everything that we can out of the the Camaro performance wise. But with a track that has 17 turns and is so tight, the added weight that we carry will be a significant disadvantage for us. But then again, this place has certainly produced some surprise winners through the years, so you never know!"
The 2009 GRAND-AM weekend featured separate races for the ST and GS classes, but this Saturday's 2.5-hour race will see a full 60+ entires on the twisty track as both classes race at the same time. That could prove to be tricky, but unlike last year's July race date, the weather shouldn't be a big factor with race day temperatures forecast to be only in the 70's.
"That is one thing that will definitely be miles better than it was last year!" said Bell about the near 140 degree track temperatures during the 2009 race. "Even though I train every day to be prepared to race in those conditions, it's just miserable to be that hot even before you get into the car. So I'm really looking forward to the chance to race at Barber when the temperatures are a little bit more reasonable. We will be getting a lot of track time with the promoter test day on Wednesday, so hopefully we can keep refining the car. People forget that this is only the third race for this Camaro, so there are still lots of ways to improve the car this early in the season."