Bell and Boris Finish 5th After Late Fuel Stop at Barber; Two race-closing drives as Bell takes 10th in ST and 5th in GS Birmingham, AL (19 July 2009) -- Matt Bell had a busy weekend at Barber Motorsports Park as the California youngster...
Bell and Boris Finish 5th After Late Fuel Stop at Barber; Two race-closing drives as Bell takes 10th in ST and 5th in GS
Birmingham, AL (19 July 2009) -- Matt Bell had a busy weekend at Barber Motorsports Park as the California youngster competed in two races during the Legacy Credit Union 200 event, running both classes of Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge competition and playing the role of race closer in both.
Bell's first race of the weekend was on Saturday, as he returned to Street Tuner (ST) class competition with the No. 75 Honda Civic Si fielded by Compass360 Racing. Despite losing power when a header was knocked loose, Bell netted a 10th place finish as he raced to the checkered flag for the first time this season in his return to ST action.
For the GS event, Bell found himself in the unusual position of watching the qualifying session rather than his regular view from inside the Turner Motorsport BMW M3, where he's set new records with his qualifying performances so far this season. But Turner tapped a strong co-driver for Bell as Boris Said slotted into third on the grid with the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BME M3.
Said, who has fans in every category he competes in, and arguably fans in some that he doesn't, took the green flag from behind the wheel and ran in the top three throughout his 43-lap opening stint, as the power difference to the eventual race-winning Fords was too great to make an impression.
As Bell took over the controls, he rejoined in eighth position before moving up the charts back into third as the race kept a relentless and all-green-flag pace. But before he could make a return to the KONI Challenge podium, he was called into the pits for a splash of fuel. Despite trademark timely Turner pit work that saw the stop completed in the blink of an eye, the lost track position was too much to make up with so few laps remaining.
Bell brought it home a fighting fifth for another solid points result and a strong performance in his first time running the finish of a GS class event.
"The car kind of flinched, and I had to go to reserve (fuel) and I knew we were done in terms of getting to the podium," said Bell. "I was doing all I could to save as much of the car--fuel and tires--as I could, but it was still a handful at the end. Our stops were great, just spot-on, but there was nothing we could have hoped to do with the Mustangs. They just have way too much power for us to do anything, even on a track like this where the great balance of the BMW should work to our advantage."
While the all-green race was what forced Bell into the pits for the extra fuel and ultimately hurt his results, it was still something that Bell enjoyed experiencing.
"I kind of liked it because no one had anything handed to them with a caution, we had to race for everything we got and be consistent all day long so as a driver, it was pretty fun and rewarding," said Bell. "I learned a lot about how the track would change through the race from running ST yesterday and I was hoping to be able to make more of a charge at the end, but we just didn't have the traction at the rear that we needed. This is still a solid finish and I'm pretty happy to get this experience under my belt this weekend."
Bell's 2009 season, which roared to life with a win at Daytona with Bill Auberlen, has seen the future star check off several items on his career to-do list, something that he did once again this weekend.
"Running at the end of the race puts you against some really strong drivers, and Matt did a great job out there," commented Boris Said. "We were just two laps short on fuel and that cost us a couple of positions but he did a great job."
Bell will be back in action north of the border for the Grand Prix du Trois Rivieres in August.