Chris Bell edges Zach Daum for POWRi Midget victory at Spoon River

POWRiCANTON, Ill. (Sept. 14, 2013)—Chris Bell passed Zach Daum on a restart to take the lead with five laps remaining and never relinquished it to win his third feature of the season in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series on Saturday night at three-eighths mile Spoon River Speedway.

Bell had led the middle segment of the 30-lap Tom Knowles Memorial, laps 12 through 22, in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports’ Bullet-Toyota. Daum passed the 18-year-old from Norman, Okla., on a restart with eight laps to go and kept the lead through one caution and restart. Bell was running the far outside and Daum had his Eagle-Toyota on the far inside, a classic dirt track confrontation.

“I was really worried because I wasn’t sure how long the top would last,” Bell said. “It was really thin. “I started running a little harder and it paid off. The track was perfect to run on the very top or the very bottom. Luckily, I never made a mistake because it would have hurt a lot worst on the top.”

Bell is having a breakout season and emerged as a star on the national short-track stage. He also won Saturday’s Midwest Open Wheel Association (MOWA) 410 Sprint Car feature at Spoon River. Bell finished second in the POWRi Midget and the MOWA features on Friday at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway.

“This POWRi win is sweet,” Bell said. “I had the (MOWA) Sprint car race taken away from me last night and also was second in the midget.”

Daum finished two car lengths behind Bell. The 22-year-old from Pocahontas, Ill., wasn’t pleased about it.

“It sucks,” he said. “I’m tired of finishing second to Keith (Kunz) and Chris (Bell). It’s been too damn many times this season.”

Daum has finished second twice and third in Bell’s three POWRi wins. But Daum hasn’t been alone in that category. Bell’s victory was the 17th in midgets for the Kunz/Agajanian-Curb team, a record season for one of short-track racing’s most successful teams.

Daum started third, and Bell fourth. Andrew Felker of Carl Junction, Mo., was on the outside of the front row and took the lad with Daum second on the opening lap. Bell, from sixth on the grid, was third by the third lap.

Bell passed Daum on the 10th lap and Felker’s Spike-Fontana on the 12th.

Daum moved into on a restart on the 21st lap.

“I hugged the bottom and it got tacky,” Daum said. “Bell had to slow down on top. He was back pedaling and I got by. He stopped back pedaling and drove the heck out of it to get the lead back.

“It’s the 17th win for the Kunz team this year, it’s insane.

Daum increased his lead in the POWRi championship to 280 points, 3,850-3,570, over Felker, who finished fourth.

Tyler Thomas finished third, snapping a streak of five straight races out of the top 10. The 17-year-old from Collinsville, Okla., didn’t start well, dropping out of his heat before taking the green flag with a broken throttle cable. He started at the back in the semi and climbed to second, which put him 16th on the grid for the feature.

Thomas’ Triple X-Esslinger was sixth by the 20th lap and jumped into third following a restart on the 21st. He was running the bottom.

“We don’t normally run the bottom, but that’s where we had a really good car,” Thomas said. “We had a car figured out for a slick track. You had to be really patient early to stay down in the corners and in the middle, it was really good coming off.

“Daum missed the bottom a little getting in to one of the corners and Bell was able to pass him for the lead. We couldn’t get past Daum. Honestly, it feels like a win after the struggles we’ve had recently with the engine failure and some other things.”

Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind., driving Mason Cook’s Beast-Toyota, was fifth and rookie Parker Price-Miller of Kokomo, Ind., was sixth. It was the 15-year-old Price-Miller’s fourth straight top 10.

POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature results (30 laps): 1. Chris Bell, 2. Zach Daum, 3. Tyler Thomas, 4. Andrew Felker, 5. Brad Kuhn, 6. Parker Price-Miller, 7. Terry Babb, 8. Hunter Schuerenberg, 9. Colten Cottle, 10. John Campbell, 11. Rico Abreu, 12. Garrett Aitken, 13. Justin Peck, 14. Tyler Robbins, 15. Jeff Flesher, 16. Katlynn Leer, 17. Andy Huston, 18. Tanner Thorson, 19. Zach Hampton, 20. Austin Brown, 21. Daniel Robinson, 22. Dave Camfield Jr., 23. Davey Ray.

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