Speedway: Victory bell rings for US teenager in midgets

By Taylor Mosen

Chris Bell flies the flag for the United States during the feature midget car race at Western Springs. Photo / James Selwyn
Chris Bell flies the flag for the United States during the feature midget car race at Western Springs. Photo / James Selwyn

American teenager Christopher Bell added to his trophy cabinet in front of 13,000 fans on Boxing Day at WXC Speedway, Western Springs.

The 18-year-old Oklahoman started on the front row of the feature midget car race but was made to work by countryman Rico Abreu.

The pair traded slide job passing manoeuvres lap after lap as the roaring crowd drowned out all 20 cars on the track.

Following a mid-race caution, three of the Americans played accidental bumper cars leaving all three (Darren Hagen, Bryan Clauson, Abreu) scratching their heads on the infield while Bell drove to victory.

"That was really tough, I definitely got some luck there when there was that pile-up. It was a shame losing those three United States drivers in one hit because they were really putting on a show for the fans," said Bell.

"That was a heck of a race and it was the first time I've ever been able to run in front of so many people; it's just fantastic. It blows me away how much support speedway gets down here [in Auckland]."

Bell was the dominant driver in the US this year, winning all the historic races and championships, but almost had this one stolen from him right at the death as 41-year-old American Jerry Coons Jr made a last lap lunge.

"I saw Jerry sneaking up on me on that last lap and I knew I really had to give it my all but we got there in the end, so, awesome for the team," said Bell.

The Springs' faithful saw the best track surface of the season with two distinct racing lines and cars constantly dive-bombing each other for position.

Bell decided to run as wide as possible, tapping the wall nearly every lap.

"I hit the wall several times in that race, I think we'll have to go over the car tomorrow because we might have bent a couple of wheels in that one," he said.

Coons Jr held on for second place while in-form Kiwi Chris McCutcheon took third. The first Australian home was 22-year-old Matthew Jackson in fourth.

Teams racing glory went to Team USA who narrowly beat out the Kiwis for the overall prize.

Australia had some bad luck and were a distant third in points.

The international midgets will be back in action at Western Springs tonight for the World 30-lap Derby. Gates open at 4pm with racing at 6.15pm.

- NZ Herald

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