FORT WORTH, Texas — Christopher Bell took the checkered flag in Saturday’s O’Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, punching his ticket to the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. Bell started third and took the checkered by 5.561-seconds over Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain.
“I can’t wait to go to Phoenix,” said Bell. “I love that race track. Now we get to go there and focus on one thing and that’s winning the race.”
“I don’t know if Jason [Ratcliff, Crew Chief] was thinking points tonight, but we’re definitely not going to have to think about points next week.”
Runner-up Chastain used pit strategy to lead 29 laps before spinning his tires on a restart late in the race.
“It was an up-and-down race,” said Chastain of his final start with Kaulig in 2019. “Up at the start, we ran fifth in that first stage. Then we got caught in that dirty air and couldn’t pass anybody, but then we got track position again and took control of the race for a little while.”
“The car was incredible. I made one pretty big mistake on that final restart and spun my tires, and from there we just had to run hard to finish second.”
Austin Cindric, Brandon Jones, and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top-five while Justin Allgaier, Harrison Burton, Cole Custer, Jeb Burton, and Ryan Sieg rounded out the top-10.
Cindric also had a strong run on the night, leading 38 laps on the way to his third-place finish.
“Yeah, we’re in a must-win situation as far as points go, and when you’re leading in the third stage and a caution comes out your heart kind of sinks a little bit,” said Cindric. “But I thought we had a Discount Tire Mustang good enough to win in clean air.”
“We had 50 or 60 people from Discount Tire come out today and was hoping we could get them in Victory Lane and get in the Final Four. But we got next week in Phoenix. It’s a bummer when you’re pissed at finishing third, but I guess that’s the sign of a good night, being able to execute on some of those restarts.”
The biggest incident of the night occurred on Lap 162 when contact between Playoff drivers Chase Briscoe and polesitter Tyler Reddick sent Reddick’s Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet hard into the backstretch wall.
Despite hitting the wall, Reddick still holds a 36-point edge over Briscoe heading into Phoenix. Meanwhile, fellow Playoff driver Noah Gragson scored his first DNF of 2019 following an incident on the frontstretch. Gragson finished 30th and is 57 points below the cutline heading into Phoenix.
There were nine cautions for 51 laps, with nine lead changes among four drivers.
The series makes its next appearance at ISM Speedway on Nov. 9 for the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200.