(Special to Lyndal Scranton)
Coming to Lucas Oil Speedway always is a treat for Kyle Bellm just because it’s a little more than an hour’s drive for his hometown of Nixa, Mo. Lots of friends and family show up to cheer him on.
“It’s always fun to race in front of what for us is a hometown crowd,” Bellm said. ‘Wheatland is what we consider our hometown track because it’s the closest track we race that has Sprint Cars every year.”
But recent results there haven’t been all that pleasant for the 26-year-old. Bellm might even feel he’s due a little good fortune when he returns to Lucas Oil Speedway on Saturday for the Lucas Oil ASCS Winged Sprint National Tour’s Bob Westphal Memorial Cup Sizzlin’ Summer Speedweek Finale.
A little more than a month ago, during an ASCS Warrior Region event at Lucas, Bellm went upside down early in the feature race. A promising night, following a last-to-first heat-race win, quickly was ruined.
“We’ve had some really good runs in the past at Wheatland,” Bellm said. “That last one, we were really fast. We started last in the heat and won it, then redrew the eight unfortunately (feature start invert), then tried a little too hard and made a mistake.
“We had a rocket ship for a race car. It we can take our notes from what we learned from that race and cut out some driver error, we’ve got a really good shot this time.”
Bellm returns to the Ozarks with some momentum. He won Night Two of seven-race Sizzlin’ Speedweek Series on Saturday at Route 66 Speedway in Amarillo, Texas, earning $4,000. That snapped a two-year victory drought on the national tour and was a definite shot in the arm.
Bellm ranks 11th in ASCS National Tour points.
“It means a lot,” Bellm said of the Saturday win. “It’s especially good on a Speedweek like this where you’re running seven races. If you have a bad night, it’s hard to bounce back. Hopefully we can ride that momentum out for the rest of the week.”
Consistency is the biggest thing Bellm said has been lacking.
“When we’ve run good, we’ve really run good; when we’ve had an off night, it’s really been off,” Bellm said. “We haven’t had much in between.”
Bellm said that Speedweek can be a grind, both mentally and physically with not only the race schedule but long hauls in between.
“But if you’re running good, you can’t wait to get to the next one,” he said. “If you have a bad night, the best thing you can do is forget about it and move on to the next one. You can get down on yourself pretty easy. You have to start every night like it’s a new one.”
It’s not lost on Bellm what a victory at Lucas Oil Speedway would mean to his team, whose primary sponsor is Resource Asset Management Solutions (RAMS). He’s been close there before, with a runner-up a couple of years ago – but never celebrated in front of friends and family in victory lane.
He figures this would be a perfect time to cast aside the recent struggles.
“I’ve gotten close,” he said. “But recently we’ve been on a little spell there. We didn’t have a very good Hockett Memorial last year, then got tangled up earlier this year. So yeah, we’re looking forward to some redemption.”
Also on hand will be the Lucas Oil POWRi WAR Sprint Car Series, featuring the top non-wing Sprint Car drivers in the region.
Father’s Day Recliner Giveaway: On the eve of Father’s Day, one lucky dad will win a “Layflat Electric Recliner” courtesy of Scott Furniture in Osecola. Registration will take place at the Protect the Harvest display on the midway with a drawing for the winner held during intermission.
Gates open at 5 p.m. Saturday with hot laps at and racing at 7:35.