Mackena Bell celebrated her birthday a a little early, but very appropriately Saturday night when he sped to victory in the Legends main event at Champion Speedway.
Bell, a Carson High student who will celebrate her 15th birthday on Thursday, outlasted a field of 19 cars in a long 40-lap race that saw six caution lights and one red on a cool and breezy night. It was her first-ever main event victory at Champion, and in the process, she became one of the youngest drivers to win a feature race at the Carson City track.
"It was awesome," Bell said, adding a word of thanks to co-crew chiefs, Ron Copeland and her father, Kelly Bell.
Bell started seventh in the field, worked up to third on Lap 3 and into second on Lap 8. After a restart on Lap 8, Bell went inside to challenge Bobby Hodges for the lead.
"I made a move, but I saw, 'No, that's not the right time,' so I backed off and waited for another opportunity," Bell said.
When nother opening presented itself on the backstretch of Lap 17, Bell took advantage and passed Hodges to take the lead.
Hodges crashed into the wall on the homestretch at the start of Lap 18 in just one of the casualties in a race that left 10 of the original 19 cars on the track at the end. Denny Hadler, who had won two of the previous three Legends main events, went to the pits with a broken throttle cable on Lap 18. Martin McKeefery, 17, of Milpitas, Calif., moved into second for the restart on Lap 22, but left the track with a broken motor mount on Lap 35.
"It was about Lap 25, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw the 27 car right on me, so I knew I'd better get on the gas," Bell said of McKeefery, who turned the fastest time in qualifying.
McKeefery was coming off a triumph one week before at the INEX Legends Cars Spring Nationals at Lakeport Speedway and is gearing his season toward the Asphalt Nationals in Las Vegas in October and Infineon Road Course World Nationals in November.
Also on Saturday night, Kim Robbins won her fourth straight Hornets main event of the season. Robbins also won her heat race and posted the fast qualifying time (16.70), but missed a clean sweep of the events when she opted not to run the trophy dash. Sandy Clark won the trophy dash and finished second in the main event.
The five-car, 20-lap Western Modified feature race was led by a pair of Sacramento area firemen - Jeff Stephens of Rio Linda and Troy Nogosek of Roseville - who finished first and second.
Joel Worley drove to victory in the 20-lap Sportsman class main event. Vince Malone took second in the main event to go with his trophy dash and heat race wins.
Worley surged to the front, ended a victory drought at Champion and ended the two-race win streak of defending class champion Al Goss.
"It's been a while since I've won one of these (main events)," Worley said. "I had a lot of seconds last year behind Big Al, so this was definitely nice ... thanks to my crew. They made this happen. Our setup was not doing too well earlier, but once we got it figured out, we were OK.
"I'd also like to thank my sponsors, Slot World, Distinct Ink Tattoos, Auto Marine Machine and Shamrock Landscaping. It's been more than a year since I've been able to do that," he added.
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