Chase Briscoe Wins Ford EcoBoost 200 For First Camping World Truck Series Victory; Christopher Bell Named 2017 Championby Benjamin Sanders November 17, 2017 0 comments
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Chase Briscoe claimed his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race victory in the Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday evening. Christopher Bell captured the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship with a runner-up finish.
Not only is this Briscoe’s first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory in 24 series starts, but it is in the final race for his Brad Keselowski Racing Ford F-150 team. Briscoe was also named the 2017 Sunoco Rookie of the Year for the series.
“This is a long time coming,” Briscoe said. “So proud of all these guys. To know that they’re not going to have a job next year and we continued to bring really good trucks even though we were outside the playoffs, such a testament to how good these Brad Keselowski guys are. Thank you so much to Ford for believing in me. I know that this year, at least by my standards and what I felt like I could have done, for those guys to continue to believe in me makes me feel so blessed and thankful to be here. I know two years ago I was sleeping on couches and now to be a winner in NASCAR. I wish we were in the final four. I felt like we could have been but that’s part of the circumstances. I have to thank Brad and Ford and the Cunninghams. It’s been a long time coming. I can’t thank them enough.”
While Briscoe was in Victory Lane, Christopher Bell was on the stage on the frontstretch lifting the trophy as the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion. Bell won a season-high of five wins, twenty-one top-10 finishes and 15 top-five finishes. Bell finished second on the night, but it was enough to be the first NASCAR champion from Oklahoma. This is Kyle Busch Motorsports’ (KBM) second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion to pair with 2015 champion, Erik Jones. This was Toyota’s 10 Truck Series manufacturers title and KBM’s fifth consecutive owners title.
“There are no words to describe what this means to me,” Bell said. “To be able to be here and to finish out my career at Kyle Busch Motorsports with the championship is something that I’m going to cherish for the rest of my life and, man, to be able to do it with JBL on the truck – they’ve been with me since day one and the start of my career and were with me through last year and we had a struggle point there through the beginning and middle parts of last year and they stuck with me and believed in me and we were able to preserve and come away a champion a year later.”
Bell is the fourth-youngest NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and a dirt track standout who has won the 2017 Chili Bowl and the 2015 Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway. Next season, Bell graduates to the NASCAR XFINITY Series to drive a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry and compete for another championship. Bell claimed his first XFINITY Series win at the Kansas Speedway by pulling off a slide job on teammate Jones.
“Well, it’s – you never know when your last win is, when your last championship is, so to be able to be standing here as a NASCAR champion is something I would say I dreamed of, but I didn’t ever think it was a possibility, so I didn’t ever really dream of it. But it – I’m just really speechless,” Bell said. “It’s been the career year for my life so far, so got another Chili Bowl to win here in a couple months?”
Johnny Sauter came up one position too short of claiming back-to-back championships struggling with the handling of his GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado all race long. Sauter announced this weekend that he will return to GMS Racing next season.
“I could never commit to the top,” Sauter said. “I had to drive in straight and shallow into the corner. I could make really good time doing that, using a little bit of brake. At one point there, with 25-30 (laps) to go, we were actually running quicker that the (number) four (truck), I just didn’t have anything left. Just absolutely could not touch the throttle on the corner exit. But we gave it all we had, and when it comes down to one race like this, that’s what you’ve got.”
Rounding out the top-five on Friday were Ryan Truex, who overcame a pit lane infraction and Championship 4 contender Austin Cindric, who put up a valiant fight as a rookie.
“To have the season we had, to finish third in the championship, race against some of the best.” Cindric said. “We didn’t have the best long-run speed. I knew that going into the final restart. I drove my guts out to try and get by the 4 and couldn’t quite seal the deal and had to start trying some things. I tried the top there and was able to get around Crafton on the last lap with a slide job for third in the championship. I’m over the moon for the guys at BKR. To get Chase a win after so many seconds he’s had this year, it’s a dream way to finish it out. Obviously, we wanted the championship, but we’ve come a long way in not a long time, so I’m proud of the effort and proud of how far we’ve come and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Championship 4 combatant, Matt Crafton finished sixth and was the lowest finisher of the title contenders. The remainder of the top-10 included Stewart Friesen, Grant Enfinger, Kaz Grala, who is graduating to the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2018 with JGL Racing and veteran Timothy Peters.
“We could get into the corner decent and just before the center of the corner it would just step sideways and have zero drive off the corner,” Crafton said. “Made a lot of changes to qualify and actually made it tight to qualify, and then we went to race, and it went. Just was sideways, and we could not get the handle on that thing for whatever reason.”
The 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season kicks off at the Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 16.
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images