Christopher Bell and the No. 4 Toyota Racing team earned Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) its first-ever superspeedway pole and were one spot away from bringing home another victory Saturday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred's 250 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The Oklahoma native was leading the field when a late-race caution set up NASCAR overtime. On the ensuing restart, rather than pushing Bell past the outside lane Justin Haley decided to make a move for the lead down the backstretch and slowed the momentum of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra when he pulled out of line. Bell fell back to the fourth spot momentarily, but rallied back up to the runner-up position and was waiting to make a move on eventual winner Parker Kligerman when a wreck ensued behind them and ended the race under caution.
The No. 4 team finished the Round of 8 of the Truck Series Playoffs in first place in the championship standings with 2,195 points and will enter the Round of 6 as the No. 1 seed with 47 playoff points.
Stage One Recap:
- Bell started from the pole and elected to take the inside lane for the start of the race. When the field took the green, the outside lane got a strong start and the top two trucks in that lane had cleared him by the time the field crossed the stripe for the first time. He settled into the third position and would remain there at the completion of Stage One on lap 20.
Stage Two Recap:
- When pit road opened, the over-the-wall crew put on fresh left-side tires, filled the No. 4 Tundra with fuel and returned Bell to the track scored in the fifth position.
- The Oklahoma native was running in the sixth spot on lap 37 when crew chief Rudy Fugle played the strategy card and summoned his driver to pit road. Having already clinched a spot in the Round of 6, and not needing the Stage points, the veteran signal caller was looking to gain track position for the final stage.
- After getting fresh right-side tires and a full load of fuel, Bell returned to the track and finished Stage Two in the 19th position.
Final Stage Recap:
- Fugle's strategy paid off and the No. 4 Tundra was at the front of the field when the Final Stage went green on lap 46. Bell was able to hold the lead for a lap, but the outside lane made a strong push and on lap 48 he found himself in the seventh spot.
- Bell was scored in the fifth spot on lap 54 when a multi-truck accident slowed the field for the third time. When pit road opened he came for a fuel-only stop, putting the team near its window to make it to the end of the race, and would take the ensuing restart in the sixth position.
- Over the next 20 laps, the 22-year-old would run inside the top three and communicated to Fugle that he was running partial throttle to save fuel in an effort to make it to the end of the race without having to make another pit stop.
- With 25 laps remaining, Bell was running third on the bottom lane with his two KBM teammates behind him. He moved to the middle lane and his teammates followed, but Myatt Snider got caught up in five-truck accident that resulted in a red-flag period.
- After restarting from the second position on lap 76, Bell jockeyed amongst the top four as the lanes alternated surging to the front. He was running fourth on lap 88 when Kligerman locked on to his back bumper and pushed him all the way to the lead and then fell in behind him in the second spot.
- Shortly after retaking the lead a one-truck spin slowed the field and set up overtime, per NASCAR rules. On the ensuing restart, third-place running Justin Haley made a move to take the lead instead of pushing Bell and slowed his momentum.
- The No. 4 Tundra fell to the fourth spot, but would rally back to the runner-up position on the final lap. Bell was unable to make a bid for the lead before a five-truck accident ended the race under caution and left him with his second-consecutive runner-up finish.