Updated–Mission Accomplished as Bell Checks Homestead-Miami Speedway off the list

Updated, 3/6/2011

Mission Accomplished as Bell Checks Homestead-Miami Speedway off the list

Second GRAND-AM race start nets race finish and championship points

TV:SPEED March 19, 2:00 PM ET

Contact: Matt Cleary, Sunday Group Management

(6 March 2011) Running his rookie year of GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competition, Tim Bell has a lot of new tracks to learn, race craft to study, and competitors to become familiar with as he jumps into the pro ranks of GRAND-AM racing. This weekend, the Doran Racing driver got to check a few boxes off that list as he delivered another solid performance in the Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead Miami Speedway on Saturday in just his second GRAND-AM race start.

Sharing the No. 14 Doran Racing BMW 128i with BJ Zacharias, the Homestead event marked Bell’s official race debut at the challenging track. Unlike many of the tracks that he’ll take on this year, Bell at least had some previous experience to build from as the race weekend was his second visit to the track in three months, having impressed Doran Racing in a December test at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The event didn’t get off to the start Bell had been hoping for, as the BMW was not showing the typical strong turn-in traits in the corners, forcing Bell to show remarkable patience before getting back on the all-important power in almost every corner. But the talent pool at Doran Racing is deep, and the team focused on making improvements in braking as well as working to get the car’s movements to more closely match those of Bell’s hands with more rapid rotation at corner entry. That showed in Friday’s qualifying session as he moved up to net 12th on the ST Class grid.

The continual improvement from Doran Racing brought even more encouraging pace on race morning as the Office Depot BMW posted the sixth-fastest time in the morning warm-up.

Not looking to jeopardize the race outing while also aiming to move up, Bell used caution with a mix of aggression as he moved up to run 8th in the order. The huge 64-car field, however, had no lack of aggression as several yellow flag periods followed the opening green flag. But on every restart, Bell worked to hold ground and pick his spots to move up before the 2.5 hour race worked its way to the halfway point.

Turning the car over to his experienced teammate Zacharias, the hard work and track position that Bell had earned was thrown out the window as debris from one of the opening cautions punctured a tire and forced the No. 14 Office Depot machine back into pit lane for a costly green-flag pit stop. But the team and his co-driver never gave up, fighting back to take a 14th place finish as Bell notched another race weekend on his rapidly growing resume.

“It was another good weekend,” said Bell. “It was crazy out there, but I just tried to keep the car clean. Bringing the car home in one piece was the most important thing and we did that. The car was better with the new diff and it felt a lot better than how it was when we started the weekend, although you are always looking for more speed. We’re still developing the car, and learning what it likes so even though we didn’t have a top result, we made the most of what we had and learned a lot. I think we can build on this next round at Barber.”

The Kia 200 will be broadcast March 19 at 2:00 PM (ET) on SPEED.

Bell will continue to learn the ins and outs of the No. 14 BMW when he and Zacharias head to Barber Motorsports Park for round 3 of the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge April 7-9.


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