Bell Looking Forward to KONI Closer at VIR Danville, VA (2 October 2009) -- As Matt Bell packs his bags for the Bosch Engineering Octoberfest at Virginia International Raceway this weekend, he'll be bringing something that he didn't have much of...
Bell Looking Forward to KONI Closer at VIR
Danville, VA (2 October 2009) -- As Matt Bell packs his bags for the Bosch Engineering Octoberfest at Virginia International Raceway this weekend, he'll be bringing something that he didn't have much of at this point last season--experience.
One year ago as the Grand-Am KONI Challenge staged the season-finale race at VIR, Bell was but a relative unknown rookie looking to close out his first season in the pro ranks on a high note.
He did just that, scoring a fifth-place finish in the six-hour endurance race. And even though Bell spent much of the 2008 season learning his way around the tracks, the competition and the car, he still made enough of an impression on famed car owner Will Turner to get the call to move up to the top Grand Sport Class in 2009 and co-drive with no less than Bill Auberlen.
Fast forward one year, and it's clear that Turner has an eye for talent, as Bell put his career into high gear in the 2009 season, kicking off with a race win at Daytona before setting on a record-breaking tear with his performances in qualifying. In fact, if it weren't for some cruel and unusual mechanical setbacks earlier in the season, Bell would likely be looking to clinch the championship this weekend.
"This has been a great season and I really can't believe that it's about to end!" said Bell, who added yet another new line in his racing resume last weekend with his debut driving a GT2 Corvette at Road Atlanta. "I knew that racing with Turner Motorsport, and having co-drivers like Bill Auberlen and Boris Said was going to make for a good year, but this season has gone way beyond my expectations. To score a win with Bill and also with Don Salama, and to show what I could do both in qualifying as well as at the end of races, I'm really happy with how we performed as a team all year long."
The No. 96 Turner Motorsport machine lies third in the Team Championship, with BMW leading the Manufacturer Championship by just two points.
"It's good to know that mathematically I still have a shot at the driver championship, but it'd be pretty unrealistic to think we could make it happen as there would have to be a lot of bad luck for the other guys," said Bell. "But I don't think it's unrealistic at all for BMW the win the Manufacturer Championship. I'd be very proud to be a part of that outcome, and I think that a track like VIR would be the perfect place to do that. The track has a little bit of everything and is really a driver's track, so if we can help BMW win the championship it'd mean a lot and of course would be another feather in the cap for Turner Motorsport. I just want to finish this year off the same way we started it!"
The race weekend will kick off with a practice day on Friday and a Saturday morning qualifying session. Sunday's 4-hour GS and ST Class event should see a 12:00 noon ET green flag.