PUTNAMVILLE -- You'd be hard pressed to find a driver in the Wabash Valley who is as hot as Pro Stock driver Jeff Bell right now.
Bell and Michael Conner put together arguably one of the best races of the season in the feature at Lincoln Park on Saturday night with Bell coming out the winner.
The two drivers swapped the lead a handful of times over the final half of the A Main before Bell took advantage of a minor slip by Conner in turn two with just two laps remaining to get the win. The victory was the fourth consecutive feature victory at LPS for Bell. Afterwards an ecstatic Bell celebrated with friends and family, one of which was a smiling Conner. "I'd really like to thank B & S Plumbing this time," said Bell. "That was one heck of a race, it's a lot of fun to run with these guys."
Coming in second, even Conner had to smile after such a great race. "Well second isn't a lot of fun, but we've got the car running good finally."
In a night full of cautions, Bell and Conner were bumper to bumper nearly the entire way. However, the action really heated up in the final half of the race.
Bell led the early portion of the race before Conner took over around the midpoint. On the first of two late restarts after cautions, Bell was able to get alongside of Conner heading into turn four and gained the advantage down the frontstretch. But Conner would have none of it.
Conner would dive low into turn four and edge past Bell with three laps left before another yellow gave Bell and Conner one last shot at the checkered.
On the restart, Conner had a tentative lead into turn two before he got a little out of shape in lapped traffic and Bell got past to take the lead and the feature victory.
The two were followed by Mark Dickerson's 5M car in third along with Arvis Shephard and Don Wood rounding out the top-five.
Heat winners were Conner, Bell and A.J. Smith.
Before the Pro Stocks capped off the evening, Derek Davidson continued his weekend success by garnering the $1,500 paycheck for winning the 20-lap sprint feature at Lincoln Park Speedway.
Davidson, who ran at Bloomington Friday night and won his heat race on the red clay before rain canceled the show, had the quickest path around a very hard LPS surface on Saturday.
After a third place finish in his heat race, Davidson took the top spot early and checked out from the rest of the pack.
Few of the drivers had much through the corner with the hard layer of rubber laid down, especially in the first and second corners. "We really sort of idled around the corners tonight," commented Davidson. "We had to feather (the throttle) through the turns."
While Davidson, who is one of several drivers checking out the local surfaces for Indiana Sprint Week next week, took the checkered flag, Kent Christian, Kenny Carmichael and Kenny Lacey provided the real excitement in their battle for third position.
Billy Puterbaugh had control of the second spot but Christian and Carmichael were following Lacey closely late in the feature.
The three put together some wild three-wide racing on the 5/16th mile LPS oval with the 1c of Christian one of the few cars sticking to the rim of the track. Lacey and Carmichael ran low in their battle before a slight bobble by Lacey gave Christian a brief edge over Carmichael that he barely maintained across the finish line.
Christian who had to go the long way even to get to the A-Main, won the Semifeature and then moved up to finish third, ahead of Carmichael and Lacey.
For Davidson, the payday was an especially nice omen for what he hopes is to come next week against the USAC Sprints. "We haven't won a race in awhile," said Davidson afterwards. "We're still trying to get the bugs out, but I think we made a big step tonight."
Heat winners were Kris Deckard, Kenny Carmichael Jr. and Rick Hayden.
In Modified action, the 14s of Cullen Goodman was the class of the field and left the battling early on to Zack Fair, Paul Bumgardner, Craig Conyer and Ray Humphrey.
Goodman led the first half of the race solidly before Fair and an entire pack of determined drivers caught him late.
Fair was the first challenger, following close enough to tap him repeatedly through the corners. Behind Fair, Bumgardner, Humphrey and Conyer were racing three-wide for position.
With just two laps left, Bumgardner running the high line had pulled side-by-side with Fair on the bottom groove.
Bumgardner passed Fair in the final laps and gave Goodman a good scare before the checkered flag flew. Humphrey would catch Fair late and took third.
"I definitely heard (Bumgardner) coming," laughed Goodman. "I tried to move up just a little in the corners, but I definitely heard him coming. We tried a completely new setup on the car tonight and it really worked out well for us."
Rob Brickert, Humphrey and Bumgardner won their heats along with Conyer.
Indiana Sprint Week will visit Lincoln Park Speedway next Saturday night with the top stars of the USAC tour along with some of the top drivers from the state.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Saturday, July 12
A Main Sprint Cars
1. Derek Davidson (17b) , 2. Billy Puterbaugh (7), 3. Kent Christian (1c), 4. Kenny Carmichael (92), 5. Kenny Lacey (41), 6. Justin Marvel (47), 7. Brian Hayden (2h), 8. Jimmy Laser (8l), 9. Aaron Mosely (27m), 10. Jerry Coons (10).
A Main Modifieds
1. Cullen Goodman (14s), 2. Paul Bumgardner (54), 3. Ray Humphrey (75s), 4. Zack Fair (95x), 5. Craig Conyer (31c).
A Main Pro Stocks
1. Jeff Bell (21), 2. Michael Conner (7c), 3. Mark Dickerson (5m), 4. Arvis Shephard (2), 5. Don Wood (57), 6. Curt Leonard (47), 7. Josh Foxworthy (E38), 8. Steve Smiley (42), 9. Bobby Gardner (67), 10. Rusel Bennett (01).
B Main Sprint Cars (Top Five transfer to A Main)
1. Kent Christian (1c), 2. Aaron Mosely (27m), 3. Brandon Petty (3), 4. Tim Creech (31c), 5. Vinnie Sansone (80)
B Main Modifieds
B Main Pro Stocks (Top Five transfer to A Main
1. Steve Smiley (42), 2. Ben Williams (3w), 3. David Wallen (59), 4. Chris Brewer (51), 5. Kirby Morrow (27m)
Sprint Car Heats
Heat One (Top 5 transfer to A Main)
1. Kris Deckard (97), 2. Jimmy Laser (8l), 3. Kenny Lacey (41), 4. Chad Compton (15c), 5. Brian Hayden.
1. Kenny Carmichael Jr. (92c), 2. Jerry Coons (10), 3. Derek Davidson (17b), 4. Kenny Carmichael (92), 5. Kevin Chambers (18).
1. Rick Hayden (5h), 2. Billy Puterbaugh (7), 3. Scott Martin (25), 4. Justin Marvel (47), 5. Dean Frranklin (42).
Modified Heat winners
1. Rob Brickert (51).
1. Ray Humphrey (75s).
1. Craig Conyer (31c)
1. Paul Bumgardner (54)
Pro Stock Heats
1. Michael Conner (7c), 2. Don Wood (57), 3. Arvis Shephard (2), 4. Russel Bennett (01), 5. Chance Fevercoat (5).
1. A.J. Smith (27), 2. Curt Leonard (47), 3. Kenneth Faga (4f), 4. Josh Foxworthy (E38)
1. Jeff Bell (21), 2. Lloyd Bumgardner (7), 3. Mark Dickerson (5m), 4. Gregg Riser (45).