Stephen Bell, who took over one of the hottest seats in Australian sprintcar racing at the start of the 2000/2001 season and has been in great form at the major races on the East Coast over the past month, repaid the faith shown in him by car...
Stephen Bell, who took over one of the hottest seats in Australian sprintcar racing at the start of the 2000/2001 season and has been in great form at the major races on the East Coast over the past month, repaid the faith shown in him by car owners Barry Lawrence and Bill Mann with a breakthrough Feature victory in Round 9 of the Qld Sprintcar Summer ShootOut at Lismore Speedway on February 24. Bell, from position seven, drove his Speedflow Maxim into the lead on lap nine and held on for the win over Darren Jensen and Darrell Hodges
The Feature event began in spectacular fashion when 3x3 ShootOut winner Darrell Hodges rolled his Valvoline Maxim along the front stretch as the field took the green flag, an unfortunate victim of a consatina effect through the field when the front row backed out of the throttle for fear of a starting infringement. Hodges's crew immediately set to work on the team's spare car and Darrell was able to start from the rear of the field when the race was green flagged again, having been cleared by the Chief Steward to be able to do this under the rules of the SCCA/MSAQ sanctioning bodies.
Scott Davis, from Cairns in Nth Qld, jumped to an early lead before a lap three yellow light for the cars of Peter Thorley, Ricky Mitchell and Paul Lindberg who had all come together exing turn four, with Mitchell unable to restart in the Australian Vehicle Warranty Group DTR Tognotti #99.
Bell, Jensen and Hodges were closing in on leaders Davis and Drew Kruck as they entered lapped traffic, with Davis going high on the front straight to complete lap nine and Kruck electing to look for a way past Brent Kratzmann on the inside at the same time. Kratzmann, in his first night of racing held his line and Kruck rode the back of his car, sending the #36 Eagle into a wild series of flips and out of contention for the Round win
Bell had Davis under pressure on the restart and took the lead two laps later coming off of turn four but the red light was soon on again when Davis, looking for a way back past Bell rode the back of the Speedflow Maxim and rolled his Cairns Mufflers & Wreckers Gambler. With sixteen laps remaining, Bell resumed the lead from Jensen and Hodges and looked to be headed for a comfortable win until Jensen closed in lapped traffic with five circuits left, taking the fight down to the very last corner of the race.
Exiting turn four, Bell opened the door slightly for Jensen on the inside and Jensen tagged him, sending Bell sideways onto the grass as they raced to the chequered flag. Jensen, narrowly first across the line, happily accepted the umpire's decision post race for his role in the incident, allowing Bell to claim his first win of the Series with Hodges in third ahead of Paul Lindberg, Peter Thorley and Brent Kratzmann the only other finishers.