Christopher Bell recovered from a spin early in the race to bring home the victory in Thursday night's Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Bell led three times for a race-high 54 laps, including the final 37, en route to his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2017 and the fifth of his career.
Stage One Recap:
- After qualifying was rained out, Bell started second based on 2017 Owner's points per the NASCAR rule book.
- With the lower groove being the preferred line around the 1.5-mile track, Bell feel back to the third spot before settling in line. He remained scored in the third position until a one-truck accident slowed the field on lap 22.
- A problem with a lug nut on a four-tire stop left the No. 4 Tundra scored in the 23rd position when the field went back green on lap 26.
- Bell's troubles continued when a lap later trucks got four-wide at the rear of the field and cause him to spin. He was able to avoid any contact, but forced to pit under caution to replace all four tires.
- He took the lap-31 restart from the 20th position and finished Stage One in the 17th position.
Stage Two Recap:
- After pitting for right-side tires, fuel and chassis adjustment, the Toyota Racing team was scored in the 11th spot when Stage Two went green on lap 41.
- Bell communicated that his Tundra was "too free in traffic" during the stage and ended in the sixth position.
Final Stage Recap:
- When pit road opened, Bell brought his Tundra down pit road for right-side tires and fuel along with another chassis adjustment. He returned to the track scored in the second position for the start of the Final Stage.
- He was able to work his way past KBM teammate Myatt Snider on the lap-76 restart and remained out front for the next 16 laps. While approaching three lap trucks, his momentum slowed and John Hunter Nemechek was able to take over the lead on lap 93.
- A one-truck spin brought out the caution on lap 108. Bell brought his No. 4 machine down pit road for right-side tires and fuel and returned to the track in the second position.
- After another quick caution, the Oklahoma native had a strong restart and regained the lead for the third and final time on lap 114. In the closing laps Bell dodge and weaved to hold off strong runs from second-place finisher Brandon Jones and brought home KBM their third win in the last four events at Kentucky.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
A lot of battles in the closing laps, particularly with your owner Kyle Busch. How was it?
"It was great. Man, it was really tough. The track was - it had a lot of grip in it, so it made it pretty tough to pass. Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) just did a great job keeping us with track position the entire race. That was the biggest key man. Because whenever I got in second there, it was really tough to pass. Whenever you got in the back it was really tough to pass. Whenever I was leading, it's nerve-racking whenever he keeps getting those draft runs on you and getting up to you, but I just kept reminding myself how tough it was for me to pass the leader whenever I was in second. Thankfully, he ran my clean and our Toyota Tundra was good enough to get her done."
Talk about your win here tonight.
"This is pretty special man. This is an extremely tough race for me. We had our ups and downs there and through practice yesterday, just kind of - practice didn't really go smooth. We had such a good Toyota Tundra that I knew, I knew if the right circumstances came up we could do it and Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) did a great job on top of the pit box just getting me track position after I made a mistake there and spun out. Just really glad to be here. Really thankful for all the guys at TRD, everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports - they build such fast Tundras. It's a pleasure to drive them. Our Joe Gibbs engines are flawless and that showed today."
Setting yourself up well for the playoffs, talk about that and the race tonight
"Well the playoff is - that's what matters so that's kind of what me and Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) set out to do at the beginning of the year was to accumulate all those points to make it as easy as possible for us to transfer to Homestead at the end of the year. As far as the race goes, it was extremely up and down. With the repave and the green race track at the beginning, I think everybody was kind of - didn't know what to expect, but the track had a lot of grip right off the bat. It was really fast. A lot of draft runs. A lot of dirty air down in three and four. Pretty tough to pass. Once I got back there in traffic, we were kind of mired back there until Rudy started running his magical strategy at it and got us out front. Our Tundra was fast enough, we were able to hold them off."
What was going through your mind those laps 10 laps with Brandon Jones right behind you?
"Well it's very nerve-racking. It's a lot of stress. The thing that I kept going back to is that I just kept reminding myself whenever I was in that position, I couldn't pass them. That was the biggest thing. Whenever at the beginning of the race I was third, I couldn't pass for second. Whenever I lost the lead, I couldn't pass the leader. That's what I kept reminding myself is that yeah, he'll be able to get to me cause the trucks punch such a big hole in the air, you get big draft runs and he'd be able to get to me, but I knew getting to me and passing me was two different things. That was the biggest thing. Just kept reminding myself how hard of a time I had passing the leader."