KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Christopher Bell’s lengthy dirt track racing background came in handy at the end of Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300, as he shocked teammate Erik Jones with a turn three side job to take the lead with four laps to go and win his first-career NASCAR XFINITY Series race.
Bell, the current NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader, ran Jones down from five seconds back inside the final 25 laps of Saturday’s event, passing Ryan Blaney for second with 13 laps left and setting his sights on Jones out front.
The deficit at that point was just under two seconds, but Bell chewed into that gap and found Jones’ back bumper with five to go as the Joe Gibbs Racing duo danced their way through lapped traffic.
On lap 197, Bell got a huge run going down the backstretch, powering to Jones’ inside on entry to turn three and clearing Jones as he washed up the track towards the outside wall in turn four.
At that point, Jones had committed to the top lane, hoping to power back around Bell but instead running straight into his back bumper and shoving both cars into the outside SAFER Barrier.
Bell was able to continue without losing the lead, while Jones dropped back with heavy front end damage as first Tyler Reddick, and then Ryan Blaney drove past the wounded No. 20 Toyota.
In the end, it was Bell who was able to hang on, taking the checkered flag 2.670 seconds ahead of Reddick to capture the win in just his fifth-career series start.
After climbing out in victory lane, however, Bell was quick to apologize to his teammate — wishing that they “could ahve raced it out” to the checkered flag.
“Man, when I see him I’m going to apologize,” Bell said. “It sucks that we couldn’t race it out and that he couldn’t finish the race. I don’t know … I cleared him there. We were both on old tires and we were both sliding around and I was going to the top. I never want to wreck anyone, especially my own teammate. My spotter said clear and I drove it in really deep and I felt like I cleared him.”
After seeing a replay of the pass, Bell stood by his move, letting some enthusiasm creep into his voice.
“I was clear,” Bell said. “It’s my first XFINITY win and I’m sorry Erik couldn’t finish the race but man … I’m just stoked. This car was absolutely outstanding, I am really thankful to be apart of this Joe Gibbs Racing organization; it’s a dream come true to be here. To be able to win in XFINITY is something that I dreamed of as a kid, so I’m really excited about this one.”
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