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NASCAR Truck: Christopher Bell claims fifth win of 2017

Christopher Bell celebrates in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after winning the UNOH 175 on Sept. 23, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Christopher Bell celebrates in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after winning the UNOH 175 on Sept. 23, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

This year’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular-season champion, Christopher Bell, dominated the regular season, winning exactly a quarter of the 16 races. On Saturday, he began the Truck Series playoffs with a dominating performance at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon that included a race-high 73 laps led, two stage wins and the win of the UNOH 175, his fifth win of the season.

“This run today is just a credit to everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports,” Bell said. “They prepared such fast Tundras, it’s a dream come true to be able to drive this thing. I just can’t say enough, man, about these guys. I’m the one that gets to sit up here and take pictures with the trophy, but my team are the ones that do this. They’ve been so successful with so many different guys; it’s just a credit to them to really show how fast this truck is.”

Bell’s win Saturday was crew chief Rudy Fugle’s second-straight win of the UNOH 175, as he won the event a year ago with William Byron, who has since moved on to the NASCAR Xfinity Series, as his driver.

Bell was the only playoff driver to finish in the top-five. Ryan Truex, who lost the lead to Bell on lap 159 of the 175-lap race, finished second.

“Well, he (Truex) was doing a really good job of watching his mirror,” Bell said. “I knew it was tough to pass all day, but our truck had been so good. We hadn’t been able to do it until we got to him. I kept trying to work down and he kept blocking my air down and down and down. Finally, I got one run where I drove up in one and two and then got a big run into three.”

Todd Gilliland took his first-career top-10 finish in his fourth series start, finishing third. Grant Enfinger was fourth, and Stewart Friesen finished fifth, his first Truck Series top-five on asphalt. He finished 2nd on the dirt of Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, earlier this season.

Bell started the race on the front row next to his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Noah Gragson, and took the lead from Gragson on lap 42 and drove on to the stage-one win. Gragson spun early in the second stage on lap 64 and collected Johnny Sauter. Sauter was able to continue running in the top-five for a time after the incident.

Matt Crafton got off pit road first with a two-tire pit stop between the first two stages and, as a result, led the opening laps of the second stage. Bell took the lead from Crafton on lap 76. and remained up front for the rest of the second stage.

Bell, again, got shuffled back in the running order for the restart after the second stage as a result of pit strategy when several drivers took two tires to Bell’s four. With a two-tire stop, Ben Rhodes restarted up front for the third and final stage that accounted for the final 65 laps of the race.

The yellow flag waved for the final time for an Austin Cindric spin on lap 127. On the restart that followed, Rhodes lost the lead to Truex, who, eventually, lost the lead to Bell.

Crafton finished sixth, Rhodes seventh, Cindric eighth, Sauter and Kaz Grala rounded out the top-10.

Two playoff drivers, Chase Briscoe and John Hunter Nemechek, finished outside the top-10 — Briscoe in 11th and Nemechek 20th. Nemechek finished the race several laps down after spending significant time in the garage. He made and unscheduled pit stop for a vibration on lap 33. When the vibration didn’t go away, he reported to the garage for repairs.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on September 23, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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