Christopher Bell Soars Past Erik Jones In Kansas For First NASCAR XFINITY Series Winby Camille Jones October 22, 2017
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Christopher Bell captured his first-career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Kansas Speedway in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 after pulling off a bold, last-lap pass on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Erik Jones.
Bell made the race-winning pass in his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 JBL Toyota when he swooped to the bottom of the track at a high rate of speed, hoping to clear Erik Jones in Turns 3 and 4. He carried speed into the corner and had no choice but to complete the slide job on Jones, running back up the track and sliding up in front of the No. 20 Reser’s American Classic Toyota of Jones.
Jones made hard contact with both, the wall and the rear of the No. 18, slowing him down and taking away not only a second-place finish to Bell, but allowing much of the field to pass him. Jones finished in the 15th position after winning Stages 1 and 2 in the race and leading 186 laps of 200.
Bell, a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular has only made five starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He has now claimed a win and three top-10 finishes in the series.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to win in the XFINITY Series,” said Bell. “Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing is just something that I didn’t even think was a possibility as a kid growing up and I’m really thankful that Toyota and Toyota Racing Development stayed with me throughout the years and I was able to get them their first USAC National Midget Championship and from there they’ve had faith in me, even last year when I wasn’t running very good, they stayed with me another year and I’m just really thankful that they believe in me enough to give me this opportunity.”
As an accomplished dirt racer, Bell gained the skill to complete such a pass through his background in slipping and sliding in dirt cars. Jones wasn’t impressed with his teammate’s way of winning.
Following the race, Jones said, “It’s not dirt racing. He’s not clear. I can’t just stop on the top. I didn’t expect him to just drive in on the bottom so far he wouldn’t be able to hold his lane. It’s unfortunate. The Reser’s Camry was really good. I thought we were going to race for the win and unfortunately it wasn’t much of a race, it was more of a wreck.”
Bell said as he watched a replay in Victory Lane, “I don’t know, my spotter said ‘clear,’ I drove it in really deep. I felt like I cleared him.” Bell said as he watched a replay in Victory Lane.
Once Jones made contact with the wall and Bell’s car, cars battling for the positions behind them were able to steal a spot as he stumbled to the finish.
Tyler Reddick snagged the second finishing position in his No. 42 BBR/Dustin Lynch Chevrolet, his first top-10 at Kansas Speedway in his first start at the 1.5-mile track.
Ryan Blaney finished third at Kansas Speedway on Saturday.
William Byron finished in fourth, followed by Justin Allgaier in fifth. Austin Dillon, Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft, Ty Dillon and Ryan Reed completed the top-10 in the finishing order.
NASCAR Playoff contender, Elliott Sadler rebounded to finish seventh after going for a spin in Turn 4, bringing out the caution on lap 78.
Justin Allgaier maintains the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff standings lead by two points over JR Motorsports teammate, William Byron. As of now, Allgaier, Byron, Sadler and Brennan Poole make up the Championship 4 in the playoffs. Matt Tifft, Ryan Reed, Daniel Hemric and Cole Custer are all no more than eight points of the cutoff.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, November 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300. Live coverage will be found on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).
Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images