Box Score Info:
- RACE: NASCAR XFINITY Series – US Cellular 250
- TRACK: Iowa Speedway
- DRIVER: Christopher Bell
- CAR: No. 20 Ruud Toyota Camry
- START: 3rd
- FINISH: 1st
- LAPS: 257/257
Looking to continue their momentum from the last two weeks, Christopher Bell and his Ruud team paid a visit to Iowa Speedway on Saturday afternoon for race No. 19 of the 2018 season. After qualifying the Ruud Camry third on Saturday afternoon, Bell would go on to lead 94 laps and capture his third-consecutive victory of the 2018 season and earning Ruud their first NASCAR win.
Following the drop of the green flag, Bell slipped to fourth on lap one and maintained his position until the first caution flag of the afternoon waved on lap 20. Staying out under the caution, Bell restarted in third on lap 26. Fighting a loose Ruud Camry for the remainder of the run, Bell maintained his position until the second caution of the afternoon waved on lap 57 and went yellow until lap 60, ending the stage. Under the caution, crew chief Jason Ratcliff called Bell down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to the Ruud Camry. Following the stop, Bell restarted stage two in fourth on lap 67.
The second stage would go green for the duration of the run with Bell working his way into second by lap 84 and taking over the race lead for the first time on lap 116. Bell would continue to pace the field until the caution flag waved once again on lap 120, signaling the end of stage two. Once again under the caution, Ratcliff called Bell down pit road for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments to the Ruud Camry. Following the stop, Bell restarted the final stage in second on lap 129.
Following the restart, Bell would be a mainstay inside the top five, grabbing the lead once again on lap 154 and go on to lead the next 41 circuits around the .085-mile oval before making a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 195 from first. During the stop, the Ruud team changed four tires, added fuel and made one final adjustment to their Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. Once the green-flag stops cycled through on lap 212, Bell was scored as the race leader once again. A late-race caution would ensue on lap 233 as another competitor spun on the front stretch directly in front of Bell and his Ruud Camry. Avoiding contact, Bell restarted in first with only a few laps remaining.
Another late-race caution would fly on lap 250, setting up an intense five-car battle during the NASCAR Overtime period. After a lengthy clean up, Bell restarted the overtime period in fourth and was able to work himself to the lead on the final lap, earning this third-consecutive victory of the 2018 season.
With the win, Bell became the first NXS regular since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999 to win three straight NXS Races.
With the win, Bell recorded his 12th top-five finish of the 2018 season.
With the win, Bell takes over the points lead heading into next weekend’s race at Watkins Glen. Bell currently holds a 16-point advantage over second place.
Bell currently leads all NXS drivers this year with 10 top-three finishes
Next Week, Bell will attempt to tie Sam Ard’s series record of four consecutive wins at Watkins Glen.
The NXS returns to the track next weekend at Watkins Glen International for their first of three road course races of the 2018 season. Coverage of the race begins next Saturday, August 4th at 3:00 PM ET live on NBCSN, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Can you take us through the final restart and getting by Justin Allgaier to win your third straight race?
“When it’s your day it’s your day. I’ll take them anyway I can get them, man. Our Rudd Camry was really, really good. I’m just thankful that we were able to get Ruud in victory lane. This was their first win. All of these Camrys are made in Georgetown, Kentucky, here in the United States so it’s special to win for these guys. I’ll tell you what, that long run there early in the race the 00 (Cole Custer) was kind of able to get out on me and we were really equal, but I thought he might have been a little bit better. My crew chief Jason (Ratcliff) just kept making the car better and better and better and just praying for no yellow there on that long green-flag run and then it came it just came time to execute on restarts. I let one get away on me, but this thing was just so good I was able to come from the second row and get there.”
What does it mean to be the first Xfinity Series regular to win three straight races since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999?
“It’s pretty cool, man. I’m just kind of speechless. These races are really hard to win. Growing up Sprint car racing and Midget racing you don’t have long races like this and it’s been really difficult for me to wrap my head around how to run these long distance races and thankfully with the great people behind me like Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and our spotter Tony Hirschman who wasn’t here with us, but I had another great spotter Al on top of the roof today. Those guys take good care of me and make sure I keep my head on for all 250.”
Did you get into Justin Allgaier intentionally on the final restart?
“I apologize to him if I lifted him up off the back straightaway. I was definitely pushing him, but I felt like I was helping both of us get away from the field so I didn’t mean to pick his rear end up, that’s not a fun feeling. So, I apologize for that. I didn’t plan on doing that or didn’t want to do that.”
Can you take us through the final restart?
“Well, it was definitely hair raising for sure. I was praying for no yellow, but when we went green for that long – I think it was over 100 laps – I was like there’s no way. I saw two or three guys getting into the wall in front of me and I was like there’s no way we’re going to make it to the end of the race. I didn’t expect the yellow to come literally at my front bumper. That caught my attention a little bit. From that point on I knew it was going to be a matter of executing on restarts. I was able to get the first restart good and then my teammate Brandon Jones did a heck of a job pushing me. Then, the next restart (Justin) Allgaier did an awesome and poked to my outside instead of pushing me through and then once he did that I lost some momentum and fell back. This thing was good enough that I was able to come back on that (final) restart).”
Can you talk about the momentum this team has as you get closer to the Playoffs?
“It’s great, but this racing gig is extremely difficult. It’s never easy. You can win today and that doesn’t guarantee you anything for next week. We’ve won a lot of races now but you’ve got to keep winning more.”