Bell Rings First in NCWTS Truck Series Playoffs

Bell Rings First in NCWTS Truck Series Playoffs KBM Photo
After winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular season title and earning the No. 1 seed for the playoffs, Christopher Bell and the No. 4 team picked up right where they left off to start the playoffs winning all three stages of Saturday's UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon in the first race of the Round of 8. With the win, which was Bell's fifth of the 2017 season, the 22-year-old driver earns an automatic berth into the Round of 6 and by earning seven valuable playoff points with his sweep of the stages today will enter that round with at least 47 bonus tallies and two races remaining to earn more bonus points.
 
Stage One Recap: 
  • Bell started the 175-lap event from the second position alongside his Kyle Busch Motorsports' (KBM) teammate Noah Gragson, who earned his third pole of the season. After tucking in line behind Gragson on the initial start of the race, the Oklahoma native made his first bid for the lead on lap 25 pulling alongside his teammate and racing side-by-side with him for two laps.
  • The No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra was unable to take the lead from Gragson and settled into the runner-up spot in the early stages of the event. On lap 42 Bell was able to maneuver his way into the lead and would remain out the front when the field took the green-white checkered flag on lap 55 for the completion of Stage One. 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • Bell communicated to crew chief Rudy Fugle that he needed his SiriusXM Tundra to turn better before making his first pit stop of the day. The over-the-wall crew executed a four-tire and fuel stop and returned their driver to the field in the third position, behind two trucks that only took two tires, for the lap-62 restart.
  • The Toyota Racing driver quickly made his way into the runner-up position before the field was slowed for the second time of the event on lap 65. After going back green on lap 68, the field was quickly slowed once again for a debris caution on lap 72.
  • On the ensuing restart, Bell dove to the inside of leader Matt Crafton into Turn 1 and cleared the veteran off Turn 2 to regain the race lead on lap 76. He would remain out front for the remainder of Stage Two to earn another playoff bonus point. 
Final Stage Recap: 
  • Bell communicated to Fugle that his SiriusXM Tundra still needed to turn better before hitting pit road for the final time of the race. After a four-tire and fuel stop with a minor trackbar adjustment to improve the handling of the No. 4 Toyota, the Oklahoma native returned to the track scored in the sixth position, the first driver with four fresh tires.
  • The field went green for the Final Stage on 118 with 57 laps remaining. The driver of the No. 4 began to methodically maneuver his way back towards the front. He advanced into the fourth spot two laps later, and three laps later was in the third spot.
  • A one-truck spin slowed the field for the final time on lap 176 with Bell still scored in the third spot. Shortly after the lap-131 restart, the No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra moved up to the second spot and tucked in behind race leader Ryan Truex.
  • As the race continued under green-flag conditions, Bell was able to pull to the inside of Truex multiple times but was unable to complete the pass. Finally, with 16 laps remaining the SiriusXM Tundra had a full head of steam into Turn 3 and was able to drive under the No. 16 Tundra and retake the race lead off Turn 4.
  • Bell would remain out front for the remainder of the race and finished 1.248 seconds ahead of Truex to earn his fifth Truck Series win of 2017. 

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Steven B. Wilson

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