Saturday, Dec 28 12:38pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Christopher Bell ruled out of International Midget Series

NASCAR driver Christopher Bell will not contest the remaining races in the United Truck Parts International Midget Series this season.


Bell was involved in a crash during the Boxing Day meeting at Western Springs Speedway. Trying to qualify for the 30-lap feature race, Bell rolled his Toyota-powered King midget on Lap 8 of the B Main.


He managed to walk away unhurt, however, in the days following the crash Bell was informed by his NASCAR management team not to race in the remaining four events.


Next year Bell will join the NASCAR Sprint Cup driving the no. 95 Toyota Camry for Leavine Family Racing. With his focus firmly on the forthcoming season in the United States, there were some concerns another incident could stifle his preparations.




Bell was scheduled to race next on 28 December at Baypark Speedway but will instead fly back to the United States.


Speaking with, primary sponsor and car owner Brian Theobald of United Truck Parts said he’s disappointed Bell won’t race but expects it won’t be the last time he competes in New Zealand.


“He’s got a bright future and they want to protect that,” Theobald said of the decision.


“He’s been asked to cease racing for the rest of the series and has had to return home and focus on 2020. Christopher is incredibly talented and it’s always a privilege to have someone of his calibre racing down here in New Zealand.


“Naturally, we’re sad to see him go but we’ve got no doubts he’ll be back here to race in years to come. It’s a shame but when you see a crash like that it’s easy to understand why his team back in the USA would not want him to continue racing.


“I spoke to him last night, like us he’s gutted, mostly for the fans. Fortunately, he’s already looking forward to returning back here at some stage in the future. It all comes down to getting the okay from his management.”


This year marked the third season Bell has raced in New Zealand. He first debuted in 2013–’14 and won the Boxing Day feature race that season.


Last season he returned and won the 50-lap season-ending feature race, which he won’t be able to defend in the new year.


Bell is a three-time Chilli Bowl winner and will look to defend his crown while going for his fourth win in January next year.


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His exploits in NASCAR has so far seen him win the Camping World Truck Series in only his second full season in 2017.


He subsequently moved up to the Xfinity Series where he has finished fourth and third in his two full seasons in 2018 and ‘19 respectively. At just 25-years-old, Bell will make his full-time NASCAR debut next year.


The opening night at Western Springs Speedway also saw the USA vs New Zealand vs Australia test match races. Another star of NASCAR, Kyle Larson, also crashed heavily in what was a tough night for many on the dirt.


The leg one of the five-part United Truck Parts International Midget Series was won by Michael Pickens. The series concludes on 5 January at Western Springs Speedway for the World 50 Lap Classic.


Photos: James Selwyn