Christopher Bell dominated the A-Main at the Chili Bowl Nationals on Thursday.
The 21-year-old native of Norman, Oklahoma won his second-career Heat Race at the Tulsa Expo Raceway, coming from sixth to finish second to Justin Allgaier in the second Qualifying Race, earning enough points along the way to start from the pole for the feature.
Bell and Sheldon Haudenschild led the 24-car to the field for the start of the A-Main — but the competitors failed to complete the first lap before the race was stopped by contact in the back of the pack.
The first caution was on Lap 8, thanks to a three-car pile up. Bell led the field when it went green again, with Stratton, Allgaier and Haudenschild in tow.
The flip count extended to 29 after a two-car wreck on Lap 10. On the restart, Haudenschild made contact with a cone and never recovered. Bell continued to take command of the race on the restart but Stratton made contact with Allgaier battling for second-place and piled into the wall for the third caution on Lap 11.
Allgaier lost momentum on the fourth restart and dropped through the field as C.J. Leary moved forward. With three laps remaining, Bell had a 3.35-second lead over second-place Jerry Coons when the fourth and final caution erupted to slow the action.
“I just tried to give myself space so I was able to react,” Bell said.
Bell held the lead for the final three laps to secure this second-career feature win in the Chili Bowl Nationals and the third victory of the week for Keith Kunz Motorsports. Coons, who started 10th, finished second. Shane Cottle battled from 16th to finish third. All three drivers will transfer to Saturday’s A Main.
“My car was just awesome,” Bell said. “I’m really looking forward to Saturday. This track has been perfect all three nights. It’s just going to get better.”
Leary and Hines rounded out the Top 5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished sixth.
Kevin Bayer won the first B Main followed by Scotty Weir, Paul McMahan and Jake Blackhurst to transfer into the A Main. The race was slowed by two cautions. On Lap 5, Michele Decker spun and collected Justin Dickerson and Kyle Jones. The second caution came on Lap 10 when Michael Koontz slid into the Turn 3 wall.
In the second B Main, Justin Peck beat Brady Bacon to the line by 0.039s. Joe Miller and Seth Bergman also transferred to the A Main.
Danny Stratton came from third to win the first Qualifying Race. Gage Walker, Anthony Nocella and Dominic Scelzi transferred to the A Feature.
Allgaier started from the pole of the second Qualifying Race. He had led the first nine laps with Bell coming from sixth to second to challenge when the caution flew. Allgaier held off Bell on the restart to win. Shane Cottle came from seventh to advance to the A Main.
Tanner Berryhill and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. went to battle early in the third Qualifying Race but Sheldon Haudenschild made a wicked slide job on the leaders to take the point and the win. Jerry Coons Jr. came from starting sixth to transfer to the A Main.
Halfway through the fourth Qualifying Race, Tracy Hines took the point and held it to the finish. CJ Leary, Andrew Deal and Paul McMahan rounded out the top four finishers.