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Bell Tolls Field in Rocky Mountain Challenge Series Idaho 200 Duel

 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)

Craig Bell worked from his 10th starting position to the lead by lap 66 then held off a hard charging Zan Sharp for the win on the Rocky Mountain Challenge Series at Stateline Speedway.

Courtesy: D. Shannon, RMCS Media Relations

BOISE, IDAHO (August 3, 2009) The CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series made its second series trip to North Idaho in support of the Idaho “200” at Stateline Stadium Speedway this past weekend. Several drivers were content to just run the RMCS Duel for the “200” while others planned on competing in all three races over the weekend. Craig Bell of Kuna, Idaho raced in only two of the events but topped the field in the RMCS portion of the weekend winning his fourth career series race. Bell was first to the finish line over series regulars Zan Sharp, John Dillon, John Newhouse, and Jeff Jefferson.


Jonathon Gomez of Twin Falls, Idaho scored his second career Sharp Powder Coating Fast Time Award with a quick lap of 13.466 seconds around the quarter-mile paved oval. Jeff Jefferson, Dave Garber, John Dillon, and John Newhouse rounded out the top five in qualifying. Bell was sixth quick.


At the start of the 100-lap Duel, Nathan Fleury paced the field front his front row starting position for the first 23 circuits before giving way to Jeff Fenton who held the point for the next five laps. Friday night’s INSSA feature winner Zan Sharp was back in championship form this weekend and wrestled the lead away from Fenton on lap 29. Sharp then set sail leading the next 36 laps.


Meanwhile, Bell had steadily been working his way to the front of the field from his tenth place starting position and by lap 43 had taken the third spot. One lap later he moved by Fenton for second and dogged Sharp for the next 21 laps before taking the lead on lap 66.


Bell maintained his advantage over Sharp the rest of the race and crossed the finish line 1.99 seconds ahead of the two-time series champion. John Dillon who started 12th on the grid continued his championship quest finishing a strong third to keep his points lead intact. John Newhouse started 11th and was able to maneuver his way into the top five midway through the race and finished fourth followed by Jeff Jefferson in fifth.


“This was just an awesome race,” Bell said from victory lane. “This whole BodyBuilding.Com/Minegar racing team was perfect tonight. This is not an easy place to get around and we really had a great car for the race. This is perhaps one of the biggest wins of my career and I couldn’t be happier for my car owner Pat Minegar. I know we put on a good show for the fans and I am just glad that we were able to come out on top.”


Although he was looking for a weekend sweep, Zan Sharp was satisfied with finishing second. “You can’t win them all,” Sharp said. “We had a good car but Craig was just better at the end. I am happy for Craig and the team as I know it has been a while since he has won. We are finally getting our stuff figured out and we had a strong car tonight.”


Collecting his fourth top five finish of the season was third place finisher John Dillon. “We had a good car but just not good enough at the end,” Dillon said. “We are still atop the points and that was our goal for this weekend.”


Other RMCS finishers in the race included Jim Wulfenstein who finished tenth and Dylan Caldwell finishing 11th. Thane Alderman was the defending race winner but finished a disappointing 14th with chassis problems. Jonathon Gomez finished 15th after a mid race incident sent him to the pits for repairs.


Dillon holds a slim 28-point margin over Jefferson in the standings with only three races left on the 2009 schedule. John Newhouse maintains the third position 89-points behind Jefferson. Bell closed the gap on third to only five points while Zan Sharp moved into the top five for the first time this season. The next five include Gomez, Caldwell, Alderman, Minegar, and Steve Jones rounding out the top ten.


Nine RMCS regulars made the trip north with four drivers competing in all three races during the weekend. Zan Sharp had the most consistent weekend winning Friday night’s INSSA feature, finishing second in the RMCS event, and placing 18th on Sunday in the Idaho “200” (average finishing position of 7.0). Jonathon Gomez also competed in all three racing events placing third on Friday, 15th on Saturday, and fifth in the Idaho “200” on Sunday (average finishing position of 7.6). Dylan Caldwell has a strong effort all weekend finishing 9th on Friday in the INSAA race, 11th on Saturday, and 21st on Sunday (average finishing position of 13.6). Las Vegas veteran Jim Wulfenstein also competed in all events at Stateline finishing 15th on Friday, 10th on Saturday, and 20th on Sunday average finishing position of 15.0).


Seven of the RMCS drivers competed in the Idaho “200” on Sunday with Jeff Jefferson finishing the highest in 4th. Gomez finished 5th, while Newhouse took the 10th position, Wulfenstein crossing the line in 20th, Caldwell 21st, Sharp 18th, and Bell finishing 24th with mechanical issues.


The next event for the CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is the annual NAPA Auto Parts “125” at Rocky Mountain Raceways in Salt Lake City, Utah on Saturday, August 22. The event will be the fourth series visit this season at the ultra-fast banked 3/8-mile paved oval. Thane Alderman of Las Vegas, NV is the defending race winner.


The RMCS utilizes a racing format not found in ANY other regional touring series around the country. The top 20 qualifiers are inverted for every race putting fast time in the 20th starting position. This format ensures race fans see what they paid for and that is passing. Each driver is awarded three points per position gained in the event. Points are also awarded for qualifying and heat race finishes. Through the history of the series, the winning driver has averaged a 15th place starting position. To ensure competition, the RMCS pays it purse based on total point accumulation for the event and provides several special performance awards for the event.


The CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series is a regional touring series that allows all competitors to race and gain experience on different types of racetracks. It is a high-quality professional racing series that offers maximum opportunity at an affordable price serving the intermountain West. The motto of the series is to “Race Hard and Have Fun!” For all the latest news and information regarding the CarbonX Rocky Mountain Challenge Series log on to our website at

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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.