Looking to Double Down in the Eldora Dirt Derby

In just his third career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, open-wheel dirt standout Christopher Bell led a race-high 106 laps en route to victory in last year's event at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The stakes are higher this year as Bell returns to the half-mile dirt oval as a full-time competitor in the Truck Series and will be looking to collect his second win of 2016 in an effort to strengthen his hold on one of the eight spots for the inaugural Truck Series Chase.
 
Bell enters Wednesday night's race having finished inside the top 10 in six of his last seven Truck Series starts this year. He picked up his first Truck Series win of 2016, which was also his first win on pavement in NASCAR's third division, June 25 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. Over the last three races the Oklahoma native has moved up five spots in the championship standings to his current position of eighth and he also sits second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Standings behind his Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) teammate William Byron.
 
Growing up racing on dirt, the 21-year-old driver lists Eldora as his favorite amongst the many tracks he's raced at during his blossoming career. He traveled to the famed half-mile dirt track this past weekend to compete in the Kings Royal World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series three-day event. Bell started Saturday night's 40-lap main event from the 14th position, but gave the fans a show as he used the outside line against the wall and advanced up to the runner-up spot on lap 20. Unfortunately, the right rear axle on his car broke as he closed to within four car lengths of the leader and he brushed the Turn 4 wall. After riding the wall momentarily, the car rolled over onto its side and ended his bid for a victory at one of the most prestigious dirt races in the country.
 
While he wasn't able to collect the win in the Kings Royal, Bell was victorious in his first trip to Eldora this season. Bell started sixth, quickly made his way to the lead and then outdueled fellow Truck Series regular Rico Abreu to bring home the trophy in the NRA Sprint Invaders portion of the Johnny Appleseed Classic on May 29. In addition to his win at Eldora, the racing vagabond has three other victories racing on dirt this season; March 26 at Atomic Speedway in Chillicothe, Ohio in the Ohio Sprint Car Series, June 3 at Bloomington (Ind.) Speedway in the USAC National Midget Series and July 9 in the 410 Sprint Car feature at Fremont (Ohio) Speedway.
 
Last year in the Truck Series race at Eldora, the dirt standout put himself on the NASCAR map with a dominating win. This year the stakes will be higher and the talented wheelman is looking to double down in the Eldora Dirt Derby. A win Wednesday night would make Bell one of three drivers with multiple victories this season and all but guarantee him one of eight seats available in the first-ever Truck Series Chase.

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Steven B. Wilson

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