SCC: Daytona: Matt Bell preview

Bell Eager for KONI GS Class Debut at Daytona; Next step up for Bell's rapidly accelerating career (21 January 2009) Daytona Beach, FL--Everyone wants to make a good first impression, and with the clock counting down to the opening race of the...

Bell Eager for KONI GS Class Debut at Daytona; Next step up for Bell's rapidly accelerating career

(21 January 2009) Daytona Beach, FL--Everyone wants to make a good first impression, and with the clock counting down to the opening race of the 2009 Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge season, Matt Bell is firmly focused on putting his best foot forward on Friday as the California youngster moves up to make his KONI GS-class debut in the Fresh From Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway.

Looking ahead to Friday's three-hour race, Bell feels confident about getting his 2009 season off to a strong start and building on the momentum from his rookie year. With a full season of racing a Turner BMW 330i in the KONI Challenge ST class now under his belt, Bell will continue his relationship with the Ultimate Driving Machine, moving up to compete in the GS class with the famed BMW M3 for the 2009 season.

The GS class is the top class of KONI competition, with the fields comprised of Ford Mustang, Porsche 911, and Chevy Camaro machinery. The Daytona race will see both the ST and faster GS classes competing at the same time as nearly 70 cars are entered for the event.

And it won't just be experience that Bell will be putting to good use as he takes on the 3.65-mile oval-based road course at Daytona, as Bell will also benefit from racing in a familiar environment this year. The storied Turner Motorsport organization has tabbed Bell to co-drive the iconic blue and yellow-liveried No. 96 H&R Springs/StopTech Brakes BMW M3 with star sports car ace Bill Auberlen. The move up to GS teamed with the opportunity to race with one of his racing idols has Bell counting down to the big race.

"I have a completely different mindset right now for Daytona than I did last year," said Bell as he prepared for some pre-Daytona testing. "Last year I didn't know the tracks at all and I wasn't sure exactly what to expect. But going into this year, I have a lot more confidence now for this season. I know that the move to GS is a big one and it will take some adjustment, but running with Turner and having Bill (Auberlen) as my co-driver is an ideal situation and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do as a team." Bell will only have to wait until Thursday before getting his first taste of the M3 on Daytona's big banks. Thursday will see practice and qualifying set the stage for Friday's scheduled 1:45 PM ET race start.

-credit: mb/smg

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Bill Auberlen , Matt Bell
Teams Turner Motorsport