LONG POND, Pa. – Christopher Bell continued his summer surge in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Saturday, charging past John Hunter Nemechek with six laps left and going on to win the Overton’s 150 at Pocono Raceway.
Though Bell was mired in the back portion of the top five for much of the race, his No. 4 SiriusXM Toyota Tundra picked up speed when it mattered in the last 50 miles, allowing him to score his third win in the last six races.
“My guys take really good care of me,” said Bell after his sixth-career series win. “I just can’t say enough. This Sirius XM Tundra was excellent today.”
Bell struggled to use the draft down the frontstretch, but was able to use an inside pass in Turn 3 to dispatch Nemechek and run away in the waning moments.
“The only real passes I made down the front straightaway were when they gave them to me,” Bell admitted. “It was pretty tough (to clear Nemechek), because I wasn’t good enough to be able to side draft in order to stall the guy beside me out and clear him before we got to turn one.”
“I looked up in my mirror and with us being side by side, it brought all those guys behind us up there with us. I just kept trying to figure out where I could beat him at and thankfully, I showed enough nose to where he couldn’t get to the bottom in the Tunnel Turn and it screwed up his exit off of Turn 2. We got enough momentum to clear him after that and on we went. It’s a great day.”
After Kyle Busch led the first 32 laps of the race and swept the first two stages, a strategy play by Johnny Sauter to pit just before the second stage break gave him track position ahead of a restart with 25 to go.
That restart saw Busch’s day come to an end against the outside wall of the Tunnel Turn, after contact with Justin Haley sent the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular hard into the concrete and caused terminal damage to the No. 51 Cessna Toyota.
A subsequent restart four laps later saw a second Kyle Busch Motorsports entry end up hard in the wall, after a three-wide scramble between Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe and Kaz Grala entering Turn 1 went wrong and sent both Gragson and Grala to the garage.
That set up Nemechek’s run to the front, as the two-time season winner charged around the inside of Johnny Sauter on the final restart of the day with 16 to go and quickly pulled out to a second’s lead as Bell charged forward from third to give chase.
Slowly and methodically, Bell worked his way into contention, passing Sauter with 12 to go and quickly mincing Nemechek’s 1.6 second lead down to size.
With 10 to go, the margin was under a second and with eight laps left, Bell took his first shot to the inside of Nemechek for the lead.
For a lap and a half, Nemechek was able to hold Bell at bay by using the momentum from the high groove of the race track, but Bell finally prevailed entering Turn 3 and took the point for good.
Once Bell got by Nemechek and took off over the final six laps, Rhodes ultimately worked his way into the runner-up position, marking his best run of the year and propelling him up to seventh in the provisional playoff standings with four races before the cutoff.
“The race winning move would have been when the (Nos.) 8 and 4 were next to each other … I just couldn’t get to them. I didn’t have a long enough straightaway. I tried to keep them side by side and play the aero game all the way back to the frontstretch, but (Bell) unfortunately cleared him and I was just able to get past Nemechek to finish second.”
“Congrats to the 4 … we’ve got three Toyota’s in the top three, so that’s a good day for Toyota. Just hope we can be the one on top soon.”
Ryan Truex gave Toyota a sweep of the podium by finishing third, with Nemechek fading to fourth ahead of Johnny Sauter.
Matt Crafton, Austin Cindric, Cody Coughlin, Chase Briscoe and Haley completed the top 10.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Aug. 12 at Michigan Int’l Speedway, where Brett Moffitt used a last-lap pass to win his first series race a year ago.