CLUTCH CATASTROPHE TAKES TJ BELL OUT OF THE RACE EARLY AT THE MILWAUKEE MILE. Bell's ...
CLUTCH CATASTROPHE TAKES TJ BELL OUT OF THE RACE EARLY AT THE MILWAUKEE
Bell's #11 Red Horse Racing Tundra was competitive until the clutch exploded and ended the day early on lap 37. Unable to fix the damage, Bell was relegated to a 28th place finish in the Copart 200.
WEST ALLIS, WI. (June 20, 2009)- TJ Bell and his #11 Red Horse Racing team were looking forward to short track racing under the lights at The Milwaukee Mile. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. The originally scheduled Friday night race was rained out and postponed to Saturday afternoon. Qualifying was cancelled and the field was set by NASCAR Camping World Series Owner's Points and Bell started from the 20th position. He spent the early part of the race diagnosing his truck's condition in a different race environment and started his march to the front. That was cut short on lap 37 when the clutch suddenly exploded. The fly wheel on the clutch blew apart and took out the bell housing in the process. Although the damage was not visible from the outside, under the hood, the fly wheel and starter were destroyed and with those components missing, the engine would no longer run. Bell was forced to accept at 28th place finish in the Copart 200 at The Milwaukee Mile.
After two practice sessions on Friday, the #11 Red Horse Racing team knew they had a truck capable of winning the race. Bell sat at the top of the speed chart for most of the final practice and ended up fifth when practice concluded. Bell was disappointed that qualifying was rained out because he felt he had a great shot at a top-five starting position. Starting 20th, he knew he had some work to do but felt his Tundra would make it to the front.
When the green flag dropped on the Copart 200 just after noon on Saturday afternoon, Bell was on the move. He picked up the 19th position almost immediately. On lap 19, Bell reported that his truck was just a little tight on the exit of the corners. Crew chief Rick Gay assured Bell that the team would get it fixed up on the first pit stop. Unfortunately, that scheduled trip to pit road never came. On lap 37 the team heard a loud noise coming from the #11 Toyota Tundra that sounded like a tire blowing. Instead, it was the sound made by the clutch on his Red Horse Racing machine coming apart. The force of the fly wheel exploding took out the part of the engine that houses the clutch, and the #11 would no longer run. Bell could not get back on track and was relegated to a 28th place finish at The Milwaukee Mile.
"Obviously we are very disappointed," Bell said after climbing from his truck. "I know we had a good truck and I think we could have easily earned a good finish here but a freak deal with the clutch took us out of the race. It seems like this string of bad luck won't ever end but we're going to keep plugging away and head to Memphis next weekend and focus on doing well there. It's disappointing to have this happen but we have to put it behind us and move forward."
The NASCAR Camping World Series will head to Memphis, Tennessee this week. The MemphisTravel.com 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park is scheduled for Saturday evening, June 27th. It will be televised on SPEED Channel at 6:00 p.m. EDT.