Texas Xfinity win locks Christopher Bell into Championship 4
Christopher Bell earned a series-best eighth NASCAR Xfinity Series win and ensured himself a chance to win his first series championship.
Bell grabbed the lead on a restart on Lap 171 of 200 and ran away with the victory in Saturday night’s O’Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, beating Ross Chastain by more than 5.6 seconds at the finish.
The win is the eighth of the season for Bell and most in one season (he had seven in 2018). It’s also his 16th win of his career and first at Texas.
“That is pretty special to win here at Texas. I have a lot of family here,” said Bell, who hails from nearby Oklahoma. “This flag right here is for my nephew (Trip). I promised him years ago that if I ever won, I’d give him the flag at Texas.
“I knew we were very competitive and then I began having brake problems. And then whenever I got those brake problems, I just wasn’t as good. I couldn’t keep the car underneath me and I was really loose.
“So, I had to work a little harder and that red flag helped me and my brakes came back. We were able to drive away.”
Asked if he feels the favorite for the title being the first to be locked in the Championship 4, Bell said: “I like where we’re at. There was a time earlier in the year that we were going to some of these race tracks and I felt really good but we couldn’t compete with some of the other competitors.
“Right now, we can be a little bit off and I’m still right there with them and when we get this thing driving good, we’re able to do really good.”
Austin Cindric ended up third, Brandon Jones fourth and John Hunter Nemechek completed the top-five.
Rounding out the top-10 finishers were Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton, Cole Custer, Jeb Burton and Ryan Sieg.
Ronnie Bassett Jr. wrecked on Lap 140 off Turn 2 to bring out a caution. Most cars elected to pit for fuel only but Chastain remained on the track and inherited the lead.
On the restart on Lap 145, Chastain was followed by Michael Annett, Sieg, Gray Gaulding and Bell (who was first off pit road).
Noah Gragson wrecked off Turn 4 after making contact with Harrison Burton to bring out a caution on Lap 150. A red-flag was displayed to clean the track of fluid.
Chastain remained the leader when the race returned to green on Lap 157. He was followed by Allgaier and Bell.
After tagging the wall the previous lap, Tyler Reddick tried to avoid Chase Briscoe, who also tagged the wall, and wrecked on the backstretch on Lap 161, doing extensive damage to his No. 2 Chevrolet. The wreck brought an early end to Reddick’s race.
Chastain continued to hold the lead when the race restarted on Lap 171. He was followed by Bell and Allgaier.
Bell powered around Chastain and into the lead on the restart.
Chase Briscoe was forced to pit under green with a right-front flat tire on Lap 176.
With 15 laps remaining, Bell had moved out to a 2.7-second lead over Chastain with Cindric running in third.
Bell managed to stay ahead of a fast-approaching Allgaier to take the Stage 2 win, his 20th of the season.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Bell the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 53, Bell was followed by Reddick, Custer and Harrison Burton.
On Lap 55, Burton cleared Custer to take the third position.
Brandon Brown spun in Turns 1 and 2 after contact with Sieg on Lap 60 to bring out a caution. The caution was displayed just as Reddick cleared Bell to retake the lead.
“He just dumped me, tell him his year is over,” Brown said over his team radio. “I’m only going after him this race.”
Most of the lead-lap cars stayed out and Reddick led the way when the race returned to green on Lap 65.
On Lap 76, Bell moved around Reddick only to see Reddick retake the lead on Lap 77.
Bell got back around Reddick on Lap 78 as Reddick appeared to tag the wall coming off Turn 4.
David Starr wrecked coming off Turn 4 on Lap 79 after contact with Stefan Parsons, which brought out another caution.
Most of the lead-lap cars elected to remain on the track and Bell led the way when the race returned to green on Lap 85. Burton was assessed a safety violation during his pit stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.
Bell easily held off Reddick to take the Stage 1 win, his 19th of the 2019 season.
Custer was third, Nemechek fourth and Chastain completed the top-five.
Reddick started on the pole and led the first five laps until he got a piece of debris stuck on his front grille, allowed Bell to move into the lead on Lap 6.
After 15 laps, Bell had built up a more than 1-second lead over Reddick with Custer was close behind in third.
On Lap 20, Bobby Dale Earnhardt spun off Turn 2 and slammed the wall to bring out a caution. He also appeared to tag the car of Gragson during the incident.
Most of the lead-lap cars remained on the track. When the race returned to green on Lap 26, Bell led the way followed by Reddick and Custer.
With 10 laps remaining in the stage, Bell maintained about a half-second lead over Reddick while Custer was third, 1.4 seconds behind the leader.
Before the start of the race, three drivers had to move to the rear of the field – Allgaier for an engine change and Justin Haley and Sieg, both for moving to backup cars.
|5||23||John Hunter Nemechek||Chevrolet||200||08.073|
|12||07||Ray Black Jr.||Chevrolet||200||26.833|
|15||61||Chad Finchum||Toyota||199||1 lap|
|16||4||B.J. McLeod||Chevrolet||199||1 lap|
|17||0||Garrett Smithley||Chevrolet||199||1 lap|
|18||78||Matt Mills||Toyota||199||1 lap|
|19||01||Stephen Leicht||Chevrolet||199||1 lap|
|20||74||Bayley Currey||Chevrolet||199||1 lap|
|21||99||Josh Bilicki||Toyota||197||3 laps|
|22||98||Chase Briscoe||Ford||197||3 laps|
|23||15||Stefan Parsons||Chevrolet||197||3 laps|
|24||5||Vinnie Miller||Toyota||196||4 laps|
|25||86||Brandon Brown||Chevrolet||194||6 laps|
|26||35||Joey Gase||Toyota||193||7 laps|
|27||93||CJ Mclaughlin||Chevrolet||175||25 laps|
|28||51||Jeremy Clements||Chevrolet||162||38 laps|
|29||2||Tyler Reddick||Chevrolet||160||40 laps||32|
|30||9||Noah Gragson||Chevrolet||150||50 laps|
|31||90||Ronnie Bassett Jr.||Chevrolet||139||61 laps|
|32||11||Justin Haley||Chevrolet||88||112 laps|
|33||52||David Starr||Chevrolet||77||123 laps|
|34||17||Kyle Weatherman||Chevrolet||48||152 laps|
|35||13||Timmy Hill||Toyota||35||165 laps|
|36||89||Landon Cassill||Chevrolet||32||168 laps|
|37||66||Bobby Earnhardt||Toyota||17||183 laps|
|38||38||J.J. Yeley||Chevrolet||3||197 laps|
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