FREMONT, Ohio – Christopher Bell shocked the dirt-track world on Thursday by revealing his acquisition of a winged 410 sprint car, then backed up his enthusiasm by winning with it just two nights later.
It was a rapid sequence of events that left fans and media members alike wondering just how Bell put the deal together, especially considering he’s made his desire to be a dirt team owner well-known throughout the year.
Fresh off his victory in Saturday’s Jim Ford Classic at Fremont (Ohio) Speedway, Bell took some time on the road to talk exclusively to Sprint Car & Midget about how his new operation came to be.
Chief among his points was the fact that, while it may have appeared to be a sudden turnaround, the process of actually building his No. 21 Mobil 1/JBL Maxim sprinter was a much more extended process.
“I think we actually ordered the frame back in March, and then our goal was just to kind of slowly piece it together,” Bell recalled. “The frame showed up (at the) beginning of April, but I knew that we wanted to take our time with it and just make it really nice. We weren’t really exactly planning on racing it this year, just trying to piece it together and make it good for when we were ready to pull it out and roll.
“All of a sudden though, Chad (Boat) started … he was actually the one who started looking at dates, and I knew we had a Friday night race at Richmond and then I was off on Saturday, so started looking around for races to run,” Bell added. “I have a lot of laps at Fremont, because I used to live up there and run locally at Fremont, and with Saturday being their big race, we decided that Sept. 21 would be it.”
Though Bell has been planning to field and race his own equipment since the early spring, he was quick to admit that he’s far from having a complete team underneath him, like his longtime rival and peer Kyle Larson does.
That’s where one of Bell’s best friends, United States Auto Club full-timer Chad Boat, came in to help.
“The biggest thing I should say is that yes, it’s been going on for a while, but I don’t have a race team yet. All I have is a race car,” Bell noted. “So Chad and I kind of went in as partners with it, because we’re using all of his equipment. It’s his truck and trailer, Corey Tucker’s mule, and my car.
“Basically, we’re using a lot of Tucker Boat Motorsports pieces to make this race team happen right now.”
In looking back on his dominant Saturday performance – where he won the race, lapped up to sixth place and took the checkered flag a whopping 7.259 seconds clear of runner-up Travis Philo – Bell said it was special for his first win in his own equipment to come at the third-mile Fremont oval.
The Norman, Okla., lived in Ohio and raced at Fremont as a track regular early in his career, while receiving valuable mentoring from sprint car legend Rick Ferkel.
Saturday, Bell’s Fremont ties came full circle.
“It was cool,” Bell said of returning to Fremont and leaving with a trophy. “We didn’t start off good. We qualified really bad and then kind of caught a break right there in the heat race to get us started mid-pack. But then as soon as they dropped the green flag for the feature, man, that thing was on rails.
“To get a win in the first night in my own car is unbelievable, not to mention at the place I consider my home sprint car track,” Bell added. “The curb was very tricky, but it reminded me of the old Fremont, when I lived in Tiffin with Rick Ferkel and we came here a bunch. It’s always been a cool place.”
For the immediate future, Bell said his plan is to continue fielding his No. 21 sprint car in partnership with Tucker-Boat Motorsports, at least going into the 2020 season.
Eventually, however, Bell tipped that he would like to build a full team around his car, personnel and all.
“That’s probably a few years down the road, though,” Bell said. “Right now, we’re looking at doing … maybe 10 or 12 races next year, whenever Chad isn’t doing the midget deal. I think his midget team may pick up a little bit next season, but we’ll run the sprint car when it makes sense.”
As for this year, Bell will run Sunday night’s All Star Circuit of Champions event at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway before turning his attention to the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway ROVAL on the Xfinity Series side.
He’s not sure what may be next after that, sprint car-wise, but Bell is happy just to have the car done and in action.
“It feels good. Obviously being successful was really a big confidence boost in the program we’ve got,” Bell added. “Building the thing and paying attention to all the details has been fun … and it seems like we’ve got a pretty nice package.”