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NASCAR Truck: Christopher Bell wins at Kentucky

Christopher Bell celebrates his win of the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucy Speedway on July 6, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Christopher Bell celebrates his win of the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucy Speedway on July 6, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Christopher Bell claimed his third win of the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season in the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway in the wee hours of Friday morning. The race started Thursday night after a nearly three-hour rain delay.

“This is pretty special, man,” Bell said. “This is an extremely tough race for me. We had our ups and downs, there, and through practice yesterday. Just kind of, practice didn’t really go smooth. We had such a good Toyota Tundra that I knew, I knew if the right circumstances came up, we could do it, and Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) did a great job on top of the pit box, just getting me track position after a made a mistake, there, and spun out. Just really glad to be here. Really thankful for all the guys at TRD. Everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports, they build such fast Tundras. It’s a pleasure to drive them. Our Joe Gibbs engines are flawless, and that showed today.”

Bell’s race wasn’t a flawless one. A lug nut issue resulted in a slow pit stop during a caution that came out on lap 21. Then, he was the reason for the next caution when he spun on lap 27. After recovering from his early-race issues, Bell went on to lead over a third of the 150-lap race, running up front for a race-high 54 laps.

Brandon Jones battled Bell in the closing laps, but was unsuccessful and had to settle for second.

“The thing that I kept going back to is that I just kept reminding myself whenever I was in that position, I couldn’t pass them,” Bell said of maintaining his lead ahead of second-place running Jones. “That was the biggest thing. Whenever, at the beginning of the race, I was third. I couldn’t pass for second. Whenever I lost the lead, I couldn’t pass the leader. That’s what I kept reminding myself is that yeah, he’ll be able to get to me, cause the trucks punch such a big hole in the air. You get big draft runs, and he’d be able to get to me, but I knew getting to me and passing me was two different things. That was the biggest thing. Just kept reminding myself how hard of a time I had passing the leader.”

Justin Haley was third, Austin Cindric fourth, and Noah Gragson rounded out the top-five.

Bell led three times, all in the second half of the race, leading from laps 77 to 92, again on lap 109, and taking his final lap on lap 114.

“You just go for it sometimes,” Bell’s crew chief Rudy Fugle said. “That’s the way it goes. Really good crew of guys, really good tire guy, really good engineer. Full crew going up and down pit road, checking tires and seeing what we can do. Counting how many greens are on the tires. See how we ran of ton of total laps on our lefts. Green laps, not so much. Just a balanced truck and a driver taking car of the stuff, it makes it easier.”

Kentucky native Ben Rhodes and Gragson were the two stage winners, with Rhodes winning the opening 35-lap stage and Gragson winning stage two by virtue of being the frontrunner at lap 70. Both drivers had problems on restarts following their stage wins, though.

After Johnny Sauter led the first 26 laps of the race before heading for pit road during the second caution for Bell’s spin. Rhodes took the race lead on the restart, but on the restart at the beginning of stage two, Rhodes spun and collected the trucks of his ThorSport teammates Matt Crafton and Grant Enfinger, in addition to T.J. Bell.

Gragson took the lead on the restart and ran up front for the remainder of the second stage. But when the race restarted for the final stage, he spun, making slight contact with Parker Kligerman. Unlike Rhodes before him, though, Gragson was able to continue.

After Grayson’s spin, Bell and John Nemechek, winner of the two most recent Truck Series races, combined to lead the remainder of the race. But Nemechek made significant contact with the wall and fell off the pace inside the final 20 laps.

Finishing sixth through 10th were Kyle Busch, Kligerman, Matt Crafton, Sauter and Austin Hill

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 July 7, 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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