Christopher Bell Punches Ticket To Round of 6 With Win At New Hampshire

by Briar Starr On Sat, Sep. 23, 2017

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 23: Christopher Bell, driver of the #4 SiriusXM Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 23, 2017 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Christopher Bell re-took the lead with laps 15 to go and never looked back.  Bell went on to win his fifth Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race this season and he is now locked into the round of 6.

“It was really really big. To be able to win the first race and now we can be more aggressive at Vegas and especially Talladega and try and win the race compared to how I did it last year and just kind of had to take my fifth through eighth place finishes and move on.” Bell said.

Bell led four times for a race-high 73 laps (of 150) and earned seven playoff points.

“It’s a dream come true to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports. These guys do such a good job preparing this SiriusXM Tundra. Just can’t thank all of our partners at JBL, TRD, Toyota, everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports.  Thank you guys for building such fast trucks. It’s an honor to drive them.” Bell said.

The NCWTS began their eight race playoff run today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as Noah Gragson and playoff contender Bell set the front row in qualifying early on Saturday morning.

55 laps made up stages 1 and 2, while 110 laps made up the final stage.

As stage 1 went underway, Gragson held the lead until lap 25, where Bell closed in and led for at least one lap until Gragson re-took the lead.

Another playoff contender, John Hunter Nemechek, pitted late in stage 1 for a tire vibration and continued to have problems as he went behind the wall for a long period of the race.

It wasn’t until lap 42, where Bell eventually took the lead from Gragson after he over-drove turns 3 and 4. Bell held on to the lead and won stage 1 to earn ten playoff points. Playoff contenders Ben Rhodes finished second, Austin Cindric fourth, Johnny Sauter fifth, Matt Crafton sixth, Kaz Grala 11th, Chase Briscoe 13th and John Hunter Nemechek 23rd.

Todd Gilliland won the race off pt road, but was caught with a penalty as he ran over equipment in his pit box and restarted in the rear for stage 2.

Stage 2 began on lap 62, with Crafton and Grala as the leaders after varying pit strategy. Crafton led for a while before a few cautions came out on lap 63, where Gragson spun out in turns 3 and 4 after a slight bump from Rhodes. During this accident, this saw another contender Sauter collect right side damage as well. Another caution during the stage was displayed on lap 71, as an exhaust pipe came underneath from Sauter’s truck.

After a few cautions during stage 2, Christopher Bell regained the lead on lap 76. Playoff contender, John Hunter Nemechek returned to the track on lap 80 to try and collect as much points as possible. More contact was also made between Gilliland and Cindric, which gave Gilliland a tire rub.

When the craziness was done and settled, Bell ended up winning stage 2.

The third and final stage saw the race restart with 57 laps to go. Various pit strategy was once again played as Rhodes took two tires and lead for several laps until Ryan Truex took the lead with 43 to go.

“I’m glad a Toyota could win. Chris (Bell) has been the best truck all year. When you’ve got the best truck in the field behind you, it makes it tougher. I did everything I could to hold him off. I was trying to take his lane and block and everything, it just didn’t quite have the grip he had. I want to thank him for racing me clean though.” Truex said.

The stage saw one more caution as Cindric was spun out after Grala gave him a slight bump.

There were five cautions for 24 laps and eight lead changes among five leaders.

Playoff contenders Matt Crafton finished sixth, Rhodes seventh, Cindric eighth, Sauter ninth, Grala tenth, Briscoe eleventh and John Hunter Nemechek 20th.

Round of 6 Playoff Points
1. Christopher Bell (W)
2. Johnny Sauter +25
3. Matt Crafton +24
4. Ben Rhodes +15
5. Austin Cindric +8
6. Kaz Grala +3
Below cut off line
7. Chase Briscoe -3
8. John Hunter Nemechek -8

Next Up: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Saturday for the only night race during the playoffs.

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