Bell Ready for Return to Homestead; Pole-winning streak started in South Florida in 2009... Homestead, FL (2 March 2010) --Even though he won the opening round of the 2009 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season, it wasn't until...
Bell Ready for Return to Homestead; Pole-winning streak started in South Florida in 2009...
Homestead, FL (2 March 2010) --Even though he won the opening round of the 2009 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge season, it wasn't until the second race of the year at Homestead Miami Speedway that the paddock really started to take note of Matt Bell's speedy ways as he stormed to his first career pole position.
While it was just his first year of racing in the Grand Sport (GS) class, Bell still made it look easy as he repeated that qualifying result to record-breaking effect throughout the 2009 season.
Entering the Miami 200 event this weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway, there are a lot more drivers paying attention as Bell targets a strong run in the 2010 championship after taking third in the final rankings last season.
Bell was signed by Stevenson Motorsports to drive the Riley Technologies-built Chevrolet Camaro GS.R with co-driver Jeff Bucknum for the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge championship, and the duo got a solid start to the year with a run to fifth at Daytona. The race outing was not a straightforward one, as Bell's top-ten qualifying time was set aside following the final qualifying, forcing him to start the race from the back of the field.
Despite a traffic-inducing 80 cars in the race at Daytona, Bell worked his way from 43rd to 4th place on the timing sheets before turning the controls over to Bucknum, who brought the car across the line in fifth position to score the highest finish of the six Camaros entered. That kind of response to a setback helps build momentum as the season championship picks up speed.
"Having started in the back of the pack, we really can't complain about opening the year with a top-five finish," said Bell, who also made his Rolex Sports Car Series debut with Stevenson at Daytona. "Now we've got something to build on as we head for the championship. I think we're still going to be at a little handicapped as the restrictor that GRAND-AM has the Camaros running hurts our straight line speed. This is also a pretty big and heavy car, so that makes it critical to get our balance right for cornering and braking."
The oval-based road circuit's long run from the final infield corner, through the high banks of the variable-level "NASCAR 3 and 4" corners will let the Camaro stretch its legs, but the machine will still have to be nimble around the infield's multiple slow corners.
"There is so much potential for this car, and it's really exciting to be part of the Stevenson team as we optimize the set-up," said Bell, who got his first taste of Chevy speed in his ALMS debut with a Chevrolet Corvette last year. "I know that GRAND-AM is trying to create a level playing field for everyone, so hopefully we will be more evenly matched this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it. Working with Jeff has been great, and we both just want to get down there and get to work."
-source: matt bell PR