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Bell Drives His Way Into Xfinity Series Finale

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 11 2018

Christopher Bell won Saturday in Arizona. The victory put him in the Championship Round of the Xfinity playoffs. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

RacinToday.com

Christopher Bell drove through the field to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Phoenix and advance to the Nov. 17 season championship finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Faced with a must-win situation entering the Round of 8 elimination race, Bell did exactly that. By the end of Stage 1, he had cracked the top 10. At the end of Stage 2, he was fourth. And on Lap 108 of 200, he took the lead under green for the first time, forcing his way past pole winner John Hunter Nemechek for the top spot.

He never trailed after that, winning for the seventh time this season, the first time at Phoenix and the eighth time in his career.

“I’ll be honest, after Kansas and Texas, I just kind of accepted that we weren’t going to be able to get there,” Bell said. “I just came over here with a ‘Let’s have fun attitude.’ To start in the back, we didn’t really make our way up front that fast. I kind of got stalled out once I got into the top 15.

“I knew this thing was really fast, because (on Friday) in practice, it was really good… I’m just thankful for my team. They brought probably the best car we’ve had all year here this weekend. It’s a pleasure to drive ‘em, and a race car driver is only as good as his race car. This thing was unbelievably fast.”

Bell joined Texas winner Cole Custer in the Championship 4 Round, along with Saturday’s runner-up Daniel Hemric and sixth-place finisher Tyler Reddick, both of whom advanced on points.

Matt Tifft ran third but fell short in the Playoffs, as did regular-season champion Justin Allgaier, who won the first and second stages but sustained heavy damage to the right front of his Chevrolet when Nemechek slid sideways across the track on Lap 145 and clobbered Allgaier’s car.

“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Allgaier, who lost seven spots on pit road after sliding into his stall under caution on Lap 139. “But we did everything we could in the first two stages. We had a really fast Brandt Camaro. We had a lot of trouble today, seeing our pit stall. It was really difficult to see where we were at and navigate that. I lost us some spots on pit road.

“Ultimately, that put ourselves in a bad position. Got some damage, and we lost the brakes there at the end. At that point it was just about survival, finishing the race and getting as many points as we could gain.”

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NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 20th Annual Whelen Trusted To Perform 200

ISM Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Saturday, November 10, 2018

  1. (38)  Christopher Bell # (P), Toyota, 200.
  2. (8)  Daniel Hemric (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  3. (10)  Matt Tifft (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  4. (3)  Austin Cindric # (P), Ford, 200.
  5. (5)  Ryan Preece, Toyota, 200.
  6. (14)  Tyler Reddick # (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  7. (7)  Brandon Jones, Toyota, 200.
  8. (2)  Cole Custer (P), Ford, 200.
  9. (1)  John Hunter Nemechek, Chevrolet, 200.
  10. (11)  Spencer Gallagher, Chevrolet, 200.
  11. (6)  Elliott Sadler (P), Chevrolet, 200.
  12. (12)  Ryan Reed, Ford, 200.
  13. (15)  Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 200.
  14. (9)  Shane Lee, Chevrolet, 200.
  15. (23)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 200.
  16. (13)  Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 200.
  17. (18)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 200.
  18. (39)  Ty Majeski, Ford, 199.
  19. (16)  Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 199.
  20. (17)  Alex Labbe #, Chevrolet, 199.
  21. (19)  JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 199.
  22. (21)  Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 199.
  23. (28)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 199.
  24. (4)  Justin Allgaier (P), Chevrolet, 199.
  25. (26)  Donald Theetge, Chevrolet, 197.
  26. (27)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 197.
  27. (24)  David Starr, Chevrolet, 197.
  28. (32)  Spencer Boyd #, Chevrolet, 197.
  29. (29)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 196.
  30. (34)  Bayley Currey(i), Toyota, 193.
  31. (31)  Tyler Hill, Dodge, 185.
  32. (36)  Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, 181.
  33. (33)  Akinori Ogata, Toyota, 179.
  34. (40)  Josh Bilicki #, Toyota, 158.
  35. (20)  Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, Engine, 151.
  36. (37)  Vinnie Miller #, Chevrolet, Ignition, 144.
  37. (22)  Chad Finchum #, Toyota, Rear Gear, 143.
  38. (30)  Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, Suspension, 27.
  39. (35)  Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Brakes, 22.
  40. (25)  Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Brakes, 18.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  100.643 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 59 Mins, 14 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.887 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  6 for 34 laps.

Lead Changes:  7 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Nemechek 1-20;J. Allgaier (P) 21-48;D. Hemric (P) 49;A. Cindric # (P) 50-52;J. Allgaier (P) 53-93;C. Bell # (P) 94;J. Nemechek 95-107;C. Bell # (P) 108-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Christopher Bell # (P) 2 times for 94 laps; Justin Allgaier (P) 2 times for 69 laps; John Hunter Nemechek 2 times for 33 laps; Austin Cindric # (P) 1 time for 3 laps; Daniel Hemric (P) 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 7,22,21,42,00,2,19,18,9,20

Stage #2 Top Ten: 7,42,22,20,21,00,9,18,2,16

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 11 2018
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