Yogi Berra’s oft-used saying, “It’s never over ’til it’s over,” was certainly appropriate for Christopher Bell in Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway.
Certainly, Bell had the strongest car, leading 94 of 257 laps. However, Bell’s chance to win at Iowa appeared to be in jeopardy during the first overtime restart.
Veteran racer Justin Allgaier made a bold, outside, four-wide pass to nab the lead from Bell in Turn 1. While the field raced toward the stripe, the caution came out for a hard crash involving Matt Tifft and Max Tullman.
Following a somewhat lengthy red flag period, Allgaier held the top spot in the final restart of the race. As the late Benny Parsons would’ve summarized, Bell, who restarted fourth, appeared to have been shot out of a cannon.
Suddenly, Bell found himself back in position for the win. The points leader caught Allgaier while knocking on his rear bumper on lap 256. Racing off Turns 3 and 4, Bell was alongside Allgaier before these two gritty racers traded paint along the frontstretch.
Eventually gaining the top spot, Bell pulled away from Allgaier to score his fourth win of the NASCAR XFINITY Series season and his third in a row.
“When it’s your day, it’s your day,” Bell observed. “I’ll take them any way I can. It’s special to win for these guys. My crew chief Jason (Ratcliff) kept making the car better and better. This thing was so good. The races are hard to win.”
Impressively, Bell has bested some of NASCAR’s top drivers like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and series stalwart Allgaier.
When asked about his bold, aggressive pass for the win, the 23-year-old Norman, OK native may have offered some candor.
“I mean, I haven’t seen it,” Bell said. “The spotter was yelling ‘clear.’ If I’m clear, it was clean.”
Naturally, second place finisher Allgaier expressed some displeasure following the race, coming oh-so-close at sweeping the season at Iowa.
“I’m salty,” Allgaier remarked. “At the end of the day, we raced clean all day. We raced clear here in the spring. It’s disappointing to get run over like that. It’s disappointing. As racers, we’re disappointed to finish second.”
Despite coming one position short, Allgaier led the Chevrolet contingency and was ahead of the last lap carnage.
Ultimately, Bell and Allgaier took the top two spots, with Kyle Benjamin, Ross Chastain, John Hunter Nemechek, Elliott Sadler, Ryan Reed, Ryan Truex, Cole Custer, and Chase Briscoe coming home with top-10 finishes.
Following some exciting short track action at Iowa, the NASCAR XFINITY Series kicks off “Road Course August” with the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International on Saturday, August 4th at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.