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NASCAR Xfinity: Christopher Bell leads JGR 1-2 finish at Richmond

FONTANA, CA – MARCH 16: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 GameStop/Turtle Beach Toyota, walks in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Roseanne 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 16, 2018 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Christopher Bell and Noah Gragson finished one-two at Richmond (Va.) Raceway on Friday night to give JGR and Toyota a one-two finish in the Toyota-sponsored Toyota Care 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

“That was pretty special there, buddy,” Bell said in victory lane. “Had to work for it. My teammate [Noah Gragson] was really good. I knew throughout both practices that both of our cars were going to be really strong. Joe Gibbs Racing has been producing really, really fast Camrys for the last couple weeks, and it’s really shown. Man, I’m just really thankful for all of our partners at Rheem, GameStop, Toyota, TRD and everyone that was watching on the Xfinity X1 app, Xfinity for supporting the series, and thank you to all of the fans that came out.”

For Bell, Friday night’s victory was a second-career Xfinity Series win after a dominating performance that included 120 laps led in the 250-lap race. The win also made him eligible for the third of four Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonuses to be contended in the next series race April 28 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

Gragson’s second-place finish came in the Xfinity Series debut for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular.

“It’s all about learning,” Gragson said. “I wish I would have won, there. I felt good with about 18 to go. Hats off to him (Bell); we raced each other clean. I didn’t want to wreck him or anything. I wanted to earn this one, but a heck of a way to kick off my Xfinity Series debut. Great one-two finish with Toyota, here at the Toyota Care 250.”

Third-place Richmond finisher Elliott Sadler claimed the Richmond Dash 4 Cash bonus in his home state. He’ll join Bell to go for another bonus at Talladega. Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and will round out the four-driver Dash 4 Cash challenge next weekend.

Cindric started the race third but had to start in the back as a result of an unapproved change to his car between qualifying and the race.

“That was more work than I thought I was going to have to do tonight,” Cindric said. ”We were definitely a top-three car; we just needed a Cup race worth of distance to get there. Track position was pretty important. We had a great long-run car all night and definitely a car that was able to contend for the win. I’m really, really happy with the guys. They’ve been patient with me, and coming to this track never having seen it before, I’m happy with the run.  This is my best finish so far in the Xfinity Series and we’ll just keep going.”

Gragson is on the entry list for Talladega but isn’t eligible for the Dash 4 Cash program, as he’s not an Xfinity Series, championship-eligible driver.

At Richmond, Sadler had to finish ahead of JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and Spencer Gallager for the D4C prize of the race.

Allgaier finished 14th. He ran near the front early in the race, but he was 27th by the start of the second stage. Allgaier also struggled later in the race, spinning on lap 165, bringing out the fifth and final caution.

Gallgaher finished a lap down in 17th.

Hemric led 11 laps after taking a lead on a lap-69 restart and was the winner of the first 75-lap stage of the race, but he backslid in the second stage and fell off the lead lap 144. He pitted with a tire problem with one lap remaining in the stage that ended on lap 150 and went four laps down. He wound up 29th at the checkered flag.

Sadler was the winner of the second stage after taking the lead on lap 132. But on lap 163, he lost two spots Gragson and Bell. Bell took the lead from Gragson on lap 172 and ran up front the rest of the race.

Cole Custer finished sixth after starting on the pole and leading the first 43 laps. He was hit was a pit-road penalty for an uncontrolled tire at the end of stage two.

“It was just a frustrating night,” Custer said. ”We had such a fast car. At the start of the race, we were really good, and then the middle stage, we were a little bit off, and then, we made it pretty good there at the end, but we got that penalty, which I guess it was a little bit of a close call. We’ll look at it, but it’s just frustrating, because I think we had a really good car, but it is what it is. I’ve got to thank everybody at Code 3, and hopefully, come back better next time.”

Ryan Truex finished seventh, Jeremy Clements was eighth, Ryan Reed ninth, and Brandon Jones finished 10th after a pit-road penalty for his crew going over the pit wall too soon at the end of stage two.

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Posted by on April 21, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR,NASCAR Xfinity. 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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