RACE: Go Bowling 250
TRACK: Richmond Raceway
Bell Solidifies Spot in Round Two of Playoffs with Win at Richmond
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75)
- Christopher Bell qualified fourth for 250 laps Friday evening at Richmond Raceway, but the car in second had to drop to the rear for changing a tire prior to the race, which shifted the entire row forward and positioned Bell on the outside of the leader to take the green flag.
- On lap seven Bell took over the lead and dominated the opening stage at Richmond.
- Bell won stage one and then came down pit road at the stage break for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment.
- A few competitors had opted to pit at a prior caution and remained on the track, so Bell lined up third to start the second stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 83-150)
Bell started third, finished first.
Bell took the green for stage two on lap 83 in third and by lap 85 regained the lead and never looked back.
Stage two went caution free and Bell put on another dominating performance around the 0.75-mile track to earn his 17th stage win of the 2019 season.
At the stage break Bell came down pit road for four tires, fuel and a small air pressure adjustment.
With another fast pit stop Bell maintained his lead to start the final stage.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 158-250)
Bell started first, finished first.
The No. 20 Rheem Supra was the car to beat and no one could catch Bell.
The final stage went caution free and Bell paced the field the entire way to the checkered flag, earning his third win at Richmond Raceway in four starts at the track.
Bell led a career-high 238 (of 250) laps at Richmond Raceway.
The win advances Bell to the ‘Round of 8’ in the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) Playoffs.
Bell maintains the points lead heading into the ROVAL.
The win is Bell’s seventh of 2019 and his 15th career NXS victory.
Congratulations! Win number seven.
“Yeah, that one was pretty special. Going 92 laps straight here is really difficult. We were sliding all around. I felt like if I could get to traffic I was going to be in good shape because my car could move around really good. I could run up or I could run down. The 00 (Cole Custer) was keeping pressure on us pretty good, but this Rheem Supra was too good.”
You said this week it’s really important for you to try to win this championship. You threw that gauntlet down tonight.
“Man, we have been really, really fast all year long, but the last three races, we had an opportunity to win. We have been slacking a little bit, and I’m glad we got it done.”
What do you want to say to the fans tonight?
“I want to say thanks for coming out. It’s an honor to run in front of you guys. If you don’t come out, we have no one to race for. Thank you to all the fans for coming out.”
It doesn’t matter what they throw at you after a night like tonight.
“Ah, man. Gatorade has never felt better.”
You began the night telling me that you weren’t very good in qualifying. What did you throw at it tonight?
“Well, I think I told you that it wasn’t good in qualifying, so hopefully that meant it was good on the long run. It was pretty good on the short and the long run. The 00 (Cole Custer) could kind of close on us in the middle part of the run. I was trying to hit my marks, keep my rear tires under me and run on that yellow line.”
Did you have any concerns when Cole Custer was catching you?
“I was just trying to keep a gauge on my gap there. When the 00 (Cole Custer) was closing, I was getting nervous because I was trying not to slip the tires. I was pretty much running as hard as I could without slipping them and he was catching me a little bit at a time. It seemed like my car could move around maybe a little bit better than his. Lap traffic got me a little bit of a gap. It was tough work. 90 laps here is difficult. You feel like you are crawling after it, but this Rheem Supra was really, really good, and I’m just thankful to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing. I’m glad that I can drive for all of partners at Toyota, TRD, all the people at Xfinity that put on this series. It’s a lot of fun to drive these cars right now.”
How important is this win knowing you don’t have to worry about the Roval next weekend?
“I think I told every one of my guys, this is an important race right here because if you win this, you’re pretty much safe until you get to the middle of October going to Kansas. This one means a lot. And it’s number seven, that’s pretty good too.”
You really dominated this race except the lapped traffic seemed to give you some trouble.
“It’s tough. The longer you go, the more you start slipping around. The 00 (Cole Custer) was really good. He was kind of keeping pace with us, gaining on me a little bit. Just had to stay focused and continue to hit my marks.”
What is it about this track with this being your third win at Richmond?
“We just have really good race cars. It’s a shame that I screwed it up in April because I feel like we had a great opportunity to make it four-for-four. I think it’s just him (Jason Ratcliff, crew chief), he’s got a really good package here and our cars just get around here really good for some reason.”
What is the significance of starting the Playoffs so strong?
“This is a very, very important race because if you win this one, not only do you get locked into the Round of 8, but you’ve got two back-to-back weeks and an off-week mixed in there. We’re living stress free for a long time now and I’m very thankful for that. I told my whole team, this is a very important race and we were able to capitalize on it and win.”
Do you foresee a win in the next round of the Playoffs?
“Looking at the schedule, I think that we realistically have a shot to win every race. That’s pretty special. I hope we can win in the next round. The ‘Round of 8’ was awful to us last year and it all goes away so fast. We just have to make sure we get through there and execute.”
Do you have any plans going into the next two races?
“Just don’t crash, which is the same plan we had last year and we didn’t execute it. It just changes so fast. We went to Kansas, we were the top seed going into Kansas, we crashed. That’s okay, I think we were right on the cut line after Kansas. Felt good about it, Texas was a great race track for us. The next thing you know, we crashed again at Texas and then we had to go to Phoenix and win. That was the only way we were going to race for a championship. That was not very fun. We’ve done a great job accumulating points so hopefully we can kind of cruise through it, but crashing is the biggest enemy there.”
Up Next: The Xfinity Series will have their final road course race of the 2019 season with the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 28, 2019. Coverage will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, SIRIUS XM Channel 90 and PRN radio.