Bell's Storybook Weekend Ends One Chapter Short; Recovers from hospital visit to take pole, only to suffer motor problem as he led the opening laps at Homestead (15 March 2009) Homestead, FL--This past Friday was the Friday the 13th, but Matt...
Bell's Storybook Weekend Ends One Chapter Short; Recovers from hospital visit to take pole, only to suffer motor problem as he led the opening laps at Homestead
(15 March 2009) Homestead, FL--This past Friday was the Friday the 13th, but Matt Bell could not be blamed for wondering if Sunday the 15th didn't have its own bad luck nature after a storybook race weekend at Homestead Miami Speedway ended much differently than he'd been hoping it would for round two of the Grand-Am KONI Sports Car Challenge.
After getting his first laps on the 2.25-mile circuit in practice on Thursday, Bell was thinking he'd not be back in the car again all weekend come early Friday morning, as an apparent spell of food poisoning sent him to the hospital for fluids and recovery. But he shrugged off his lack of sleep and lack of experience on the track to score his maiden pole in GS Class competition driving the No. 96 Turner Motorsport.
As he did in Daytona, where he took third in qualifying and raced his way to second in the order before turning the car over to Bill Auberlen as the duo scored their first KONI victory together, Bell once again was up to the challenge on Sunday. Leading the nearly 30-car field, Bell made a strong start at the green flag to establish the point position and grow his lead. But just three laps into the 2.5-hour event, Bells great weekend hopes were dashed. A bellow of blue smoke trailed his blue and yellow M3 and forced him into the garage.
"Turner Motorsport did a great job and the car was absolutely flawless all weekend," Bell said. "It's been absolutely amazing. The stuff that Turner did to the M3 has been fantastic. We set pole, and it seemed to be doing great at the beginning of the race. Then we had this problem so that eliminated our shot at another win today. But this stuff happens. We'll figure out what happened, and we'll go out next time. I had no indication. It surprised me. Everything vibrates and smells funny in a race car for the first couple of laps, but there was no real indication. I turned in for the oval, and it just went up in a cloud of smoke."
The problem was soon diagnosed by the Turner Motorsport team, which got attempted to get Bell back out on track to score as many championship points as possible despite the setback, but the issues proved terminal for the outing and the team will now focus on the next chance for success at New Jersey Motorsports Park in May.
"This is a championship-caliber organization, so it's great that this team is so dedicated to getting as much as possible out of each race weekend, and that showed with this second effort today," said Bell. "This is also a new track to me, so even though I got the pole, it's always good to get more laps no matter where you go so that second effort will pay off down the road in my career. Hopefully we can get back on top at New Jersey."