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NASCAR Xfinity: Christopher Bell secures playoff advancement with Phoenix win

during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Whelen Trusted To Perform 200 at ISM Raceway on November 10, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona.

By AMANDA VINCENT

Despite his NASCAR Xfinity Series leading six wins, Christopher Bell was in danger of not making the championship four to vie for the 2018 Xfinity Series championship Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Bell, though, secured his advancement to the championship round of the playoffs with a seventh win on Saturday at ISM Raceway near Phoenix after leading 94 of the 200 laps that made up the Whelen 200.

“The pressure was on, and I’m just so thankful for all my mentors. They’ve done such a good job taking care of me,” Bell said. “It started with my mom and my dad as a kid, and from there, I moved up to Ohio and lived with a guy named Rick Ferkel, and Pete Willoughby and all those guys became such great mentors to me, and they prepared me for moments like this where the pressure is on and everything’s on the line. Just thankful that I pulled through for my team. These guys are the ones that build these GameStop Toyota Camrys that are going to win races, whether I’m in the car or not. It’s my job to make sure that they get the results that they deserve, and I’m just really glad that we get to race for a championship next week.”

Other drivers advancing to the final round include Texas Motor Speedway race winner Cole Custer and Daniel Hemric and Tyler Reddick, who advance on points after second and sixth-place finishes Saturday.

Bell started the race 38th after an issue in inspection kept him from making a qualifying attempt earlier in the day. He was in the top-10, though, by the time the first stage ended at lap 45 and inside the top-five by the end of the second stage at lap 90. Bell passed John Hunter Nemechek to take the lead on lap 108 and ran up front the remainder of the race.

“I knew we were really, really fast, and we showed that yesterday in practice,” Bell said. “This place is very tricky and I started 38th, and I really got stalled out once I got to the top-15, and I quit going forward. I got to like 10th at the end of stage one, and I was stuck. I couldn’t do anything. I came in for a pit stop, gained a couple spots and then, just slowly worked our way forward. Once we got out front, there, it was pretty good and just thankful that yellow flag didn’t come out. The entire last five laps or 10 laps, I was just watching the fence looking for those green lights, because I did not want to see another restart.”

Justin Allgaier won both 45-lap stages in the first 90 laps after taking the lead from pole sitter Nemechek on lap 21. But after leading 69 laps, Allgaier wound up a lap down in 24th at the checkered flag. His car sustained significant damage in a lap 145 incident that resulted in the fifth caution of the race, and in later laps, he reported a brake problem.

As a result, Allgaier was eliminated from the playoffs after a wins tally of five that trailed only Bell’s total. Matt Tifft, Austin Cindric and Allgaier’s JR Motorsports teammate Elliott Sadler also were eliminated from the playoffs one race shy of season’s end. The JRM teammates were the only two of the eight playoff drivers at Phoenix to finish outside the top-10. Sadler was 11th. Tifft and Cindric finished third and fourth.

“First of all, I have to thank all of my team for the No. 2 GoGreen Equipment Camaro they gave me today,” Tifft said. “We knew we were going to have to be on offense all day to have a shot to make the championship four, and we definitely did that. We had a great stage one, finishing sixth. Unfortunately, I was just a touch too quick on pit road and got a speeding penalty before stage two, which forced me to start in the back. Our Camaro was really fast though, and that helped me get back into the top-10 prior to the end of that stage’s conclusion. We needed a win at that point to advance to the next round, and we had a couple of shots at it. In the end, my Camaro just built a little bit too tight to get it done in the closing laps. I know my team will keep after it though, and we’ll go for the win next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.”

Other top-10 finishers included Ryan Preece in fifth, Brandon Jones in seventh, Custer eighth, Nemechek ninth and Spencer Gallagher in 10th.

Below, is the finishing order of the Whelen 200 at ISM Raceway:

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Posted by on November 11, 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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