Bell, Abreu Leave Turkey Night On Top

Christopher Bell gets to kiss the hat in 2014. photo speedblur101

PERRIS,CA -RIS- Christopher Bell came to the 74th Turkey Night Grand Prix trailing Rico Abreu for the USAC Honda National Title by 26 points. Bell won the 98 lap feature and 'Kissed the Hat' as has become the custom since the trophy featuring the late JC Agajanian's hat was created. But Rico had a good night too and won the 2014 title by ten points after a fifth place finish.


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Parnelli Jones was there as the race Grand Marshall just 50 years after his first Turkey Night win. Rico Abreu paid him the honor of a tribute helmet with graphics recalling Parnelli's career. 2012 winner Kyle Larson was back with the support of Chip Ganassi who was a surprise guest for the race.

Last years winner Dave Darland was working on plan 'B' as the car he won with in 2013 was out after a practice session the day before where the engine blew. There was no replacement so he moved from the Josh Ford Racing 73x to the 17n car that was the back up for Johnathon Henry. No surprises resulted as Dave had a uneventful race qualifying 16th and finishing tenth in the race.

The 98 lap feature had three leaders with fast qualifier Tanner Thorson leading twice. He lead at the start and after holding off a challenge from Chad Boat who got beside him on lap four. Following a caution on lap 15 Brad Sweet moved past Boat and took after Thorson. It looked hopeless though as Thorson began to pull out a lead.

On lap 18 Ricky Shelton had trouble in turn three and flipped bringing the race to a halt. After the stop Boat was not able to keep up and fell from the top five while Sweet upped the pressure on Thorson. On the restart Christopher had moved into second had pulled beside Tanner. As the leaders caught the back markers on lap 29 Bell found an opportunity and took the lead with traffic help. Lap 36 brought a caution for Cody Swanson who stopped in turn three. The green returned on lap 43 with a clear track in front of the leaders and Bell pulled out to a lead.

On lap 52 the leaders were in traffic again and the top six drivers were all in heavy traffic, with Darren Hagen having moved into second and Brad Sweet in third and Zach Daum moving up to fourth. Kevin Thomas Jr. brought out a caution on lap 58 with the race resuming on lap 66.

The restart had Hagen in second place and Sweet in third with Thorson forth and Daum fifth. Sweet dropped out on lap 70 and Daum moved up to third by lap 75.

On lap 76 the race was stopped again when Chad Boat flipped in turn three after contact with Damion Gardner. Gardner went to the work area and did some checks on the car before tagging the back of the field. It was an open red and teams made adjustments and added fuel during the stop. Kyle Larson's crew was seen making adjustments to the sway bars at this point.

The race was restarted with 22 cars but two laps later caution was declared for a stopped car in turn four. Hagen was second, Daum was third, Abreu fourth and Thorson fifth on the restart.

The remainder of the race was a show for Kyle Larson and Damion Gardner. From lap 78 to lap 98 Gardner moved to seventh from the back of the field while Larson came alive and went from out of the top ten to finish a jaw dropping third.

Gardner did not do so well as he crashed from seventh place on the last lap in the third turn. He flipped and brought the race to an end with a checker/red finish which left him with an 11th place.

Bryan Clauson finished seventh and Tracy Hinds finished eighth while Dave Darland finished tenth.


USAC HONDA NATIONAL/WESTERN MIDGET CAR SERIES RACE RESULTS: November 27, 2014 - Perris, California - Perris Auto Speedway - "74th Turkey Night Grand Prix"

      QUALIFICATIONS: 1. Tanner Thorson, 67, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.359; 2. Christopher Bell, 71, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.378; 3. Brad Sweet, 67z, Kahne-17.399; 4. Darren Hagen, 56, 5IVE-6IX-17.458; 5. Chad Boat, 15x, Boat-17.494; 6. Rico Abreu, 97, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.517; 7. Zach Daum, 5D, Daum-17.532; 8. Tracy Hines, 24, Parker-17.563; 9. Damion Gardner, 4, Klatt-17.598; 10. Bryan Clauson, 63, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.610; 11. Kevin Thomas, 56x, 5IVE-6IX-17.648; 12. Ronnie Gardner, 68, Six8-17.650; 13. Kyle Larson, 71k, Kunz/Curb-Agajanian-17.680; 14. Trey Marcham, 73, Ford-17.714; 15. Tyler Thomas, 91T, Thomas-17.730; 16. Dave Darland, 17N, Team 17-17.807; 17. Jake Swanson, 25, Rodela-17.836; 18. Shannon McQueen, 7, McQueen-17.901; 19. Alex Schutte, 28, Schutte/McElwee-17.915; 20. Mike Spencer, 57, Ecker-18.150; 21. Ricky Shelton, 71T, Full Circle-18.212; 22. Cody Swanson, 71s, Swanson-18.232; 23. Johnathon Henry, 17, Team 17-18.235; 24. Nick Chivello, 27, Chivello-18.364; 25. Scott Pierovich, 35, Pierovich-18.400; 26. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple-18.406; 27. Randi Pankratz, 8, Pankratz-18.439; 28. Jarid Blondel, 98, Blondel-18.543; 29. Kyle Edwards, 39E, Mitchell-18.713; 30. Andee Beierle, 5B, Daum-18.869; 31. Terry Nichols, 1P, Nichols-19.276; 32. Tony Everhart, 55T, Everhart-19.530; 33. Doug Hunting, 2, Hunting-19.964; 34. Britton Bock, 67x, Bock-NT.

      QUALIFYING RACE: (12 laps) 1. Henry, 2. Chivello, 3. C.Swanson, 4. Pierovich, 5. Shelton, 6. Pankratz, 7. Blondel, 8. Chapple, 9. Beierle, 10. Edwards, 11. Nichols, 12. Hunting, 13. Everhart. NT

      FEATURE: (98 laps) 1. Christopher Bell, 2. Darren Hagen, 3. Kyle Larson, 4. Zach Daum, 5. Rico Abreu, 6. Tanner Thorson, 7. Bryan Clauson, 8. Tracy Hines, 9. Johnathon Henry, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Damion Gardner, 12. Trey Marcham, 13. Isaac Chapple, 14. Alex Schutte, 15. Jake Swanson, 16. Cody Swanson, 17. Jarid Blondel, 18. Shannon McQueen, 19. Nick Chivello, 20. Randi Pankratz, 21. Andee Beierle, 22. Kevin Thomas Jr., 23. Chad Boat, 24. Tyler Thomas, 25. Brad Sweet, 26. Ronnie Gardner, 27. Kyle Edwards, 28. Mike Spencer, 29. Ricky Shelton, 30. Scott Pierovich. NT


**Shelton flipped on lap 19 of the fetaure. Boat flipped on lap 76 of the feature. Gardner flipped on lap 98 of the feature.

FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-21 Thorson, Lap 22 Bell, Laps 23-28 Thorson, Laps 29-98 Bell.

FINAL HONDA NATIONAL MIDGET POINTS: 1-Abreu-1,045, 2-Bell-1,035, 3-Hines-999, 4-Clauson-954, 5-Daum-865, 6-Thorson-792, 7-Chris Windom-594, 8-Michael Pickens-499, 9-Darland-452, 10-T.Thomas-408.

FINAL HONDA WESTERN MIDGET POINTS: 1-R.Gardner-774, 2-Marcham-682, 3-Blondel-651, 4-Schutte-468, 5-Chad Nichols-433, 6-Bell-389, 7-McQueen-374, 8-Thorson-358, 9-Pierovich-340, 10-Chivello-337.

FINAL HONDA WESTERN MIDGET DIRT POINTS: 1-R.Gardner-774, 2-Marcham-682, 3-Blondel-430, 4-Schutte-415, 5-Bell-389, 5-McQueen-374, 7-Thorson-357, 6-Pierovich-301, 8-Abrue-298, 10-Sean Dodenhoff-283.

Ed Hollowell

Reporter for RIS since 1996. Photo since 2002.

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Volume 2014, Issue 11, Posted 6:55 PM, 11.28.2014