Christopher Bell races to first NASCAR Xfinity Series win
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Christopher Bell raced to his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory Saturday, beating dominant Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones after they made contract with four laps left at Kansas Speedway.
Bell led for just those four laps, hanging in second place behind Jones for much of the race before sliding in front of him shortly before the collision. After watching his teammate control the race for so long, the finish came as a surprise for Bell.
“I didn’t think winning was a possibility,” Bell said.
Jones led 186 laps of 200 laps, and won both of the first two stages. He failed to finish the race.
Jones had drifted to the top of the track before Bell attempted to slide past him underneath. Bell said after the race that he felt he was clear. Jones disagreed.
“It’s not dirt racing, you know,” Jones said. “He’s not clear. I can’t just stop on the top.”
While Jones was initially excited for the race to come down to the wire against a teammate, he was very disappointed in how the race finished as he felt they didn’t truly get to compete for the win.
“I thought we were going to race for the win and unfortunately it wasn’t much of a race,” Jones said. “It was more of a wreck.”
Despite his frustrations, though, he knows that unfortunate endings like this one happen, and not to dwell on it moving forward.
“That’s racing,” Jones said. “It’s not always going to go your way and you know it definitely didn’t go our way today. We just have to come back ... and do it a little bit better.”
For two teammates to be in such a tight race for first is a dicey situation in and of itself, but for one to make a move like Bell did shows the true competitive nature of the sport.
“We both want to win, and that’s a product of it,” Bell said.
Bell hadn’t gotten the chance to apologize to Jones before meeting with the media, but said he intended to and that “it sucks that we couldn’t race it out, or that he didn’t finish the race.”
Bell, a regular in the Truck Series, and Jones are not eligible for the series playoffs.
Justin Allgaier entered the race trailing teammate William Byron in the playoff standings, but now sits in first place after finishing fifth.
Byron, now in second place in the standings, finished fourth and now trails Allgaier by two points.
Elliott Sadler finished not far behind in seventh, maintaining his position of third place but now trailing the lead by 11 points.
Pole winner Tyler Reddick finished second, and Ryan Blaney was third.
NEAR-CRASH: The caution flag came out on Lap 76 when Elliot Sadler spun out. Sadler didn’t make contact with any other drivers, as Austin Dillon was able to barely navigate past the smoking No. 1 car as it spun toward the infield. He would return to the race.
SLOWED START: Gray Gaulding and Reed Sorenson were pushed to the rear prior to the race for missing driver introductions, and Spencer Boyd, Byron and Tifft were sent to the rear as well for unapproved adjustments. Byron and Tifft are in the playoff hunt, so the ruling put them in an uphill battle early to catch up with their competition.
UP NEXT: Nov. 4 at Texas Motor Speedway. Jones won at the track in April.