BARBERDODGE: Bell Nabs Pole at Portland, Secures Points Portland, OR (June 19, 1999)â€” After breaking Rockyâ€™s Morans firm grasp on the first three poles of the Barber Dodge season, Townsend Bellâ€™s run for the checker at Portland ...
BARBERDODGE: Bell Nabs Pole at Portland, Secures Points
Portland, OR (June 19, 1999)— After breaking Rocky’s Morans firm grasp on the first three poles of the Barber Dodge season, Townsend Bell’s run for the checker at Portland International Raceway was nipped in the butt by a first corner accident. Placing 2nd in practice, Bell, of Costa Mesa, California, secured the pole by over a quarter of a second, ahead of Michael Valiante of Vancouver, Canada. Moreover, Bell’s 1:14.093 second lap set a track record; not bad for a qualifying session racked with crashes.
Round 4 Barber Pro Dodge Series was run in conjunction with the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 on the 1.967-mile 12 turn "Festival" course at PIR, a course known for the infamous chicane of the same name at the end of the straight at the start of the race. For the Festival chicane, the field brakes from nearly 140 mph to around 40 for a right hander. With the course narrowing down considerably for the first turn, Bell, driver of the #25 DirecPC, PC World Magazine Reynard Dodge, knew he had to take advantage of the pole: "I was consistently fast all weekend, and knew that if I could just make it through the first corner, I’d have a good chance of staying in front, but it didn’t happen…"
The first start got waved off by the officials when Rocky Moran jumped the start, and the second turned into a melee at the first corner which knocked Bell into the gravel, as well as costing several other drivers their cars and positions. Juan Jose Font, who qualified 17th, charged into the first corner clipping Bell on the left rear, sending him into a slow spin. Bell re-entered the track in 8th position, and on the restart after a black flag, was passing Rojas for 7th when another off-road excoursion at the chicane dropped him into 10th spot. Nonetheless, Bell worked his way through the field to 4th place by the checkered flag, behind Jeff Simmons of CT, and Rossoni and Junior of Brasil.
Though Bell had hoped for a better result, his finish at Portland still leaves him in 2nd in the Barber Dodge Series points race, leading Jeff Simmons in a tie-breaker with 47 points each. "I’m glad I’ve been able to do consistently well for DirecPC and PC World Magazine, and am looking forward to Cleveland, where I have run before," states Bell. The Barber Dodge Pro Series travels to Cleveland for Round 5 of the 12-race schedule June 27. To revue all the drama from Portland, watch ESPN2 Sunday, July 4, at 12:00 noon and again on following days; check local listing for showtimes. Perhaps the perfect candidate, Bell’s car had an in-car camera mounted during the race.
For more information on Townsend Bell, please explore his website at http://www.townsendbell.com/.