Christopher Bell spent the weekend rocketing his winged 410 sprint car around Eldora Speedway’s high-banked, half-mile oval at speeds of 140 mph.
He’ll get the same rush on Wednesday, albeit at about 90 mph.
Bell roars into Eldora as the defending champion in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby. While the speeds won’t approach those for the Kings Royal, one of sprint car racing’s crown jewel events, that could work in Bell’s favor for a repeat.
“I definitely feel that running the Kings Royal helps me get prepared for the Truck Series race,” said Bell, who raced Thursday, Friday and Saturday night at Eldora. “The sprint cars run so fast around that track that when I get in the truck it feels like everything is in slow motion. After going so fast there in the sprint cars it makes everything that much easier when the speeds are slowed down in the truck.”
Bell won the Dirt Derby in his third career truck start in 2015. He has one win in 10 starts driving the No. 4 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports this season. He also has top-10 finishes in six of his last seven starts.
Bell won an NRA Sprint Invaders feature at Eldora on May 29, one of his four dirt wins this season along with Chillicothe’s Atomic Speedway, Fremont Speedway and Bloomington Speedway in Indiana.
He was in pursuit of the Kings Royal title Saturday night when the right rear axle broke on his sprint car. Bell had worked his way from 14th to second 20 laps into the 40-lap feature and was closing in on eventual winner Donny Schatz.
“Eldora is my favorite race track in the whole world. With winning there last year and now having a ton more experience in the trucks, I’ll come into this year’s race with a lot of confidence,” Bell said. “(Crew chief) Jerry (Baxter) has also won there before, so I feel like we will be a really fast combination. Regardless of the outcome, I know this whole No. 4 JBL team is going to go there and have a lot of fun.”
Bell’s truck win likely locks him into the eight-driver Chase. He’s eighth in the points standings and second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings behind KBM teammate William Byron.
Kyle Larson is the lone current Sprint Cup driver on the entry list for Wednesday’s race, but he won’t be the only Cup driver getting track time.
Eldora owner and three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart wheels a tractor around the high banks helping prep the racing surface.
Stewart said he flew straight from New Hampshire, the site of Sunday’s Cup race, to Darke County on Sunday.
“I’ll be there … through Wednesday night. A lot of the stuff that we do for the race track side, at least from my role, is done in the middle of the night,” Stewart said. “When everybody else is either finishing at the bar or coming home from the bar, I’m still working. We’ll do what we have to. I’ve got a great staff there. I have Roger Slack and Larry Boos, and we’ve got a great track crew that is as dedicated as any to get this thing done and to get it done right, so we’ll go back there and we’ll kick butt and get after it and get ready for Tuesday and Wednesday.
“I mean, this is what’s different between pavement racing, and if these guys had to run a race on Wednesday, they don’t have to do anything to the race track. We have to do everything to our race track to get ready.”