Nazareth, PA (May 22, 1999)-- Consistent with his strong performance at last month's oval practice in Phoenix, Townsend Bell of Costa Mesa, CA took home third-place at Nazareth's banked oval this past Saturday. Bell came to Nazareth with confidence, and for good reason-- he netted the second fastest time out of three days of oval practice in Phoenix.
Nazareth, the site of the second race in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, was home to the First Union 200 and a weekend full of exciting racing action. During the all-day test session Thursday, Townsend Bell recorded the fastest lap of 24.701 sec's. at 131.382 mph. Bell was not as happy with his qualifying effort on Friday which placed him fourth on the grid, but by the first corner of the race, he had moved up to third. Rocky Moran of Coto de Caza, CA started from the pole and lead all sixty laps, with Townsend Bell and Jeff Simmons of East Granby, CT jockeying for second place. According to Bell, "I felt I could have pushed harder the first five laps or so, but Todd Snyders car was blowing oil and smoke, so unsure of his mechanical condition, I stayed back a bit."
Bell found passing difficult on the fatiguing one-mile banked oval with only one small straight. The #24 DirecPC Reynard Dodge, to whose setup Bell gave much thought at Phoenix, handled differently than what he had hoped for; recounts Bell, "I battled understeer the whole race, which turbulent air on the track made worse." Nonetheless, Bell moved into second place and held off reigning series champ Jeff Simmons for 30 laps, until lapped traffic allowed him to slip by. Bell and Simmons jockeyed the duration of the race for 2nd, including much crowd-pleasing side-to-side racing action, exciting on a track with a very narrow racing line.
Going to a venue in which Townsend Bell is well versed, the road course, Bell and the other Barber Dodge Pro Series drivers will race Memorial Day at Lime Rock in Connecticut. On this tight, 1.5 mile track, the key is to find an open slot in traffic during qualifying for a good start position. Bell sees "No reason why [he] can't continue to be a front runner." Following the disappointment of a blown motor at the start the first race at Sebring, Bell is nonetheless 9th in points with only one completed race under his belt. Townsend Bell is happy to get points for the #25 DirecPC PC World Magazine sponsored Reynard Dodge, and is eager to continue his charge in the Series and up the points board.