Appeal Staff Report
As the youngest female in the field, 18 year-old rookie Mackena Bell made an impressive step forward in the NASCAR Whelen Series Late Model Division Saturday night when she posted two Top 5 finishes during the All American Speedway-Toyota TRD Twin 50s event in Roseville, Calif.
When afternoon practice session numbers placed Bell, a Carson High graduate, in the middle of the 16 car field, she was determined to lay down a solid number in qualifying. When she drew a 2 for qualifying order, she knew being the first on the track, in the heat of the day would be challenging.
Turning up the heat in the K. Bell Tile and Marble No. 11 machine, Bell posted a 13.947 second, 86.039 mph lap which kept her in the top four of the field until the final two qualifiers. Rounding out the top 6, Bell found herself on the pole for the first time this season, when an inversion of 6 was pulled for the first set of 50s.
"I'm not gonna lie," Bell said. "I was a nervous wreck! I walked myself right over to John Moore and jokingly told him not to take my back bumper off too quickly. He smiled at me, told me to get up on the wheel and drive it as hard as I could. So that's what I did."
Leading the race for just two laps before being passed by Moore and then falling as far back as ninth while being hung-out on the high line, Bell was determined to bring home a top five finish she has been struggling to achieve. As she rallied back passing Shannon Mansch with three laps to go, Bell crossed the finish line behind Paul Harraka, Moore and Laura Hayes, posting a fourth place finish and her first top five finish of the season.
"It was a great feeling to finally get that top five," said Bell. "My Mackena Bell Motorsports team has worked so hard this season to be competitive with the bigger teams and I was finally able to prove to them that we have what it takes."
With her fourth place finish in the books, Bell found herself yet again on the front row when an inversion of 5 was drawn for the second set of 50s. Lining up outside of veteran racer and past track champion, Shannon Mansch, Bell said she felt more comfortable with her front row position the second time around and raced hard to keep herself in the front of the field.
In a race that saw several cautions, Bell ran strong on her worn tires. At lap 50 with the checkers in the air, she managed to round out the top six, only to learn later that the fifth place finisher had been disqualified, bumping Bell into her second top five finish of the evening.
After missing two races of the All American series schedule, Bell currently sits ninth in NASCAR Whelen points at All American Speedway. She has also broken into the Top 250 drivers on the NASCAR National list of Top 500 Late Model drivers (www.nascar.com) and is roughly 90 points out from entering the California Top 20. She is also featured in this month's edition of Speedway Illustrated Magazine and was recently selected as a finalist for Sports Illustrated's Faces in the Crowd.
"Every weekend brings me valuable experience," said Bell. "Going into the season I made some goals for myself, as simple as they may seem to others. I wanted a top five finish and a top 10 points standing. So far . . . so good," Bell said.
Race fans can learn more about Bell by visiting her website at www.MackenaBell.com. Included on the Web site is Bell's photo gallery and her biography.
Mackena Bell Motorsports is sponsored by K. Bell Tile & Marble, Sciarroni Bros. Racing, K. Dub Creative Web & Graphic Design, NGK Spark Plugs, McBride Machine, Bell Racing Helmets, Joe the Chromer, Benny's Auto Painting, Tires 4 You and Ken Barrette.