In what was dominating fashion, the No. 20 of Christopher Bell won at Richmond Raceway, the first race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. With the win, he is locked into the Round of 8.
“I think I told every one of my guys, that this is an important race right here,” Bell told MRN Radio. “If you win this, you’re pretty much safe until October, maybe middle of October, going to Kansas. This one means a lot and number 7, that’s pretty good too.”
The Go Bowling 250 marked the first race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and the beginning of the Round of 12. Playoff driver Austin Cindric qualified on the pole, while Justin Allgaier originally was second. However, Allgaier was forced to go to the rear before the start of the race, as he ran over a generator key during his qualifying run forcing the No. 7 team to change a tire on pit road prior to the start.
Also starting in the back was playoff driver John Hunter Nemechek. Nemechek had an ignition issue prior to his qualifying run and was unable to make qualifying lap.
Stage 1: Lap 1- Lap 75
Most of the action occurred in the first stage, especially on the very first lap. The No. 66 of Mike Marlar had an accident on the backstretch and the second caution was flown on Lap 50 for Vinnie Miller. Miller had smoke coming out of the back of his car and came to a stop in Turn 2. His car was eventually pulled behind the garage and Miller recorded a disappointing 35th place outing.
The final caution was for an incident that came on Lap 59 for the No. 74 of Tyler Matthews who went spinning in Turn 2. Matthews’ night was done early and he wound up 33rd. Under the caution, playoff drivers Michael Annett and Brandon Jones made pit stops. Both would have trouble during their sequence. For Jones, it was trouble with the jack but he was able to get the car off pit road with no damage.
Stage 1 came to a close on Lap 75 and Christopher Bell took the win. Cindric, Noah Gragson, Annett, Cole Custer, Justin Haley, Hunter Nemechek, Jones, Chase Briscoe, Allgaier and Harrison Burton rounded out the top-10 Stage 1 finishers.
Stage 2: Lap 83 – Lap 150
Brandon Jones stayed out to the assume the lead however, it was Christopher Bell who stayed out front. Bell would retake the lead and go on to sweep the stages at Richmond. There would be no yellow flags in the second stage.
One minor incident occurred under the stage break during pit stops. It was found that Justin Haley’s crew had too many men over the wall and he was penalized and was sent to the back for the start of Stage 3.
Stage 3: Lap 158 – Lap 250
Stage 3 was a repeat of Stage 2. However, one driver tried to put up a fight before lap traffic got in the way. Cole Custer closed in one time before his car started to go away.
In the end, it was Bell who wound up having the best car of the night leading 238 laps en route to victory number seven of the season, the 15th of his Xfinity Series career.
“It’s tough,” Bell added to MRN Radio. “The longer you go, the more you start slipping around. The 00 (Custer) was really good, he was keeping pace with us, gaining on me a little bit. I just had to stay focused and continue to hit my marks.”
Cindric qualified on the pole, led eight laps and came home to finish second behind Bell.
“Just trying to figure out what the track conditions were and what we needed with our race car, short run, long run and we were able to execute well there at the end,” Cindric said to MRN Radio. “Just trying to save my stuff because this track is great. You can manipulate the run with your hands and feet driving. Spotter Coleman (Pressley) did a great job tonight to help me manage that as well. The pit crew did an awesome job. All in all, a pretty good day for the MoneyLion Ford Mustang.”
There were five cautions for 31 laps and four lead changes among three drivers. Bell led twice for 238 laps and all but 12 laps for his third Richmond win.
- Christopher Bell, Advanced to Round of 8
- Cole Custer, +60
- Tyler Reddick, +38
- Austin Cindric, +34
- Justin Allgaier, +21
- Michael Annett, +18
- Chase Briscoe, +17
- Noah Gragson, +15
Below the Cut Line
- Brandon Jones, -15
- Ryan Sieg, -19
- Justin Haley, -20
- John Hunter Nemechek, -21
- Christopher Bell, led 238 laps, won both stages
- Austin Cindric, led eight laps
- Cole Custer
- Justin Allgaier
- Chase Briscoe
- Harrison Burton
- Noah Gragson
- Zane Smith
- Michael Annett
- Tyler Reddick
- Brandon Jones
- Ryan Sieg
- Dillon Bassett, one lap down
- Joe Graf Jr, one lap down
- John Hunter Nemechek, one lap down
- Jeremy Clements, one lap down
- Justin Haley, one lap down
- Ray Black Jr, two laps down
- Ryan Repko, two laps down
- Joey Gase, two laps down
- J.J. Yeley, three laps down
- Gray Gaulding, three laps down
- Josh Williams, three laps down
- Hermie Sadler, three laps down
- David Starr, three laps down
- Chad Finchum, four laps down
- Garrett Smithley, four laps down
- Matt Mills, six laps down
- Stephen Leicht, nine laps down
- B.J. McLeod, 10 laps down
- C.J. McLaughlin, OUT, Axle
- Joe Nemechek, OUT, Brakes
- Tyler Matthews, OUT, Crash
- Brandon Brown, OUT, Engine
- Vinnie Miller, OUT, Engine
- Landon Cassill, OUT, Handling
- Stan Mullis, OUT, Suspension
- Mike Marlar, OUT, Crash
Up Next: The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to the Charlotte Roval next Saturday, Sept. 28.