Bell caps wild night with win at Drivin’ For Lineman 200

MADISON For a number of reasons 21-year-old Christopher Bell won’t soon forget his first race at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday.

First and foremost is his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win.

Bell overtook Ben Rhodes with eight laps remaining and withstood a pair of late restarts to take the checkered flag for his first victory of the ‘16 season.

Bell, who despite never racing at Gateway Motorsports Park before Saturday had raced Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Peveley, Mo., started on the fifth row and gradually moved up in the early stages of the race.

‘Fifth at the midway point in the 160-lap race, Bell took the lead for the first time of the night on lap 118 and despite falling behind Rhodes with 11 laps remaining, was able to pull out the victory.

“It feels great. But this is only just the beginning,’’ Bell said following the race. “This wais a race that I had been pointing towards and hopefully we can build on this type of finish in the next couple of weeks and the rest of the season.

The win is the second for Bell in Toyota Tundra who broke into the winners circle for the first time last year in the Camping World Truck Series stop at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. The win also gives Bell his fifth top 10 finish in the last six tour stops.

Daniel Hemric, driving a Draw-Tite Ford placed third while Johnny Sauter and Erik Jones rounded out the top five drivers.

Defending champion Cole Custer placed 15th, while Series Leader Matt Crafton placed 27th.

Rain, rain go away... please

For the second year in a row, rain played havoc with the festivities at the Drivin’ For Lineman 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park. With storm clouds approaching throughout the USAC Silver Crown Showdown race, a little drizzled began just as Tanner Swanson crossed the finish line.

The action was then suspended at 4.27 p.m and qualifying for the Drivin’ for Lineman 200 was canceled and later the Illinois Lottery ARCA Midwest 50 was switched until after the completion of the Drivin’ For Lineman 200.

One year ago, the start of the Drivin’ For Lineman 200 was delayed by two hours by rain.

Swanson wins Silver Crown Showdown

Driving his Bowman Properties Chevrolet to perfection on the 1.25 paved oval, Tanner Swanson took the checkered flag for the second time in less than a month as he won the Vatterott College Silver Crown Showdown on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Winner of the Silver Crown Series event at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis in late May, Swanson took the lead from series point leader Chris Windom on lap 27 and never trailed again as he took the $8,100 first place check.

With skies darkening and thunder being heard in the distance, Swanson, a native of Kinsburg, Calif. edged both Windom and Austin Nemire for the title. The win capped a good day for Swanson who has the fastest qualifying speed of 143.030 mph.

“This has to rate with the biggest wins of my career. If not first, it’s right up there,’’ Swanson said. “We ran very well in practice and I was pleased at how we reacted to the (heat) conditions. It was a very good day.’’

David Byrne and Joe Ligouri rounded out the top five placewinners. With his second place finish, Windom, a Canton, Ill. native, retains an 11 -point lead in the point standings (320-309) over Kody Swanson, who placed 11th on Saturday.

Novak wins Inaugural Buckingham Climbin' For Linemen competition

Jason Novak of Marion, Illinois, won the inaugural Buckingham Climbin' For Linemen competition this morning at Gateway Motorsports Park. Novak, an Ameren Illinois employee, used his skills and focus to win the Buckingham championship belt and a vacation package to Mexico provided by the Bevins Company.

The event showcases the skills of the line worker, promote safety and raise public awareness. The competition, known as the "Hurtman Rescue Championship," is sponsored by Buckingham Manufacturing. The Hurtman Rescue is a procedure all linemen are required to practice annually. This entails a co-worker climbing up to the injured lineman and using a hand line rope-and-block to lower him to safety.

“I heard about the contest through my wife's Facebook page,’’ Novak said. “It sounded like a fun thing to do. It was warm today (94 degrees with 46% humidity). I was sweating before the competition even started. But it's okay. We work in all kinds of weather. I just came back from a storm last night and came down here.’’

Dean Criddle: 618-239-2661, @CriddleDean