RACE: Xfniity Series 250
TRACK: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Dominating first win of the season for Bell after winning two of the three stages and leading 142 of the 163 laps.
Bell Wins at Atlanta
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-40)
- Qualifying rained out Saturday morning leaving NASCAR to set the field based off 2018 owner points, lining Bell up third to take the green flag.
- Bell started Stage 1 third and quickly took the lead and never looked back, pacing the field to the green-white-checkered to close out the first 40 laps.
- At the conclusion of Stage 1, Bell reported that his No. 20 Rheem Supra was “way too loose.”
- Bell pitted for four tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments and with a fast pit stop by his crew maintained the lead to start Stage 2.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 47-80)
- Bell started first, finished first.
- Shortly into Stage 2, Bell reported that the adjustments from the previous stop had greatly improved the handling on his Rheem Supra.
- With a few laps remaining in the Stage the loose handling returned, but Bell maintained his position at the front of the field to sweep both Stages.
- Bell pitted at the conclusion of Stage 2 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
Stage 3 Recap (Laps 87-163)
- Bell started second, finished first.
- Despite starting the Stage second, Bell wasted no time quickly regaining the lead.
- Bell came in for a four tire stop and fuel on lap 123, but the right-rear tire got hung up on the fender and cost the team extra time on pit road.
- As pit stops cycled through Bell reclaimed the lead.
- A caution came out with eight laps remaining and gave Bell an opportunity to pit for fresh tires to help him hold off some hard charging cars as the laps wound down.
- With another fast stop by the No 20 Rheem crew, Bell took the lead for the final green flag with three laps to go and held on to take home the win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
- Bell swept all three Stages and earned his first Xfinity Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The win is Bell’s ninth Xfinity Series victory to date.
- Bell dominated the field, leading 142 of the 163 laps raced.
- Bell is currently leading the Xfinity Series point standings.
- Christopher Bell became the first driver to win in the Toyota Supra after the Supra debuted in NASCAR competition at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last week.
- It was Bell’s first victory of the 2019 season and the 150th win for Toyota in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Do you think if you didn’t go to the high side on the last restart Cole Custer would have the momentum to make the run?
“He probably would have. Man, the top is just so good over there in (turns) 1 and 2. Even there on that long run coming to five (laps) to go, I knew I was going to have to move up to block the 2 car (Tyler Reddick) at some point. Just really struggling there. Man, very thankful and very fortunate to be able to drive this Rheem Supra. It’s the first Supra win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, so that means a lot to me to be able to become the first driver to win in this. I’m really happy for all of our partners at Rheem, Toyota, everyone at Toyota Racing Development. Thank you, the Supra is awesome. Looks great and it’s fast too. A lot of fun and man, I’m just honored to be here.”
History-making day and a perfectly executed day…
“I don’t know about that one. I felt pretty sloppy there as a driver at sometimes. Running the yellow line is so hard and I don’t know, I would just struggle on the longer runs there. Like I said, I knew that I was struggling on the bottom of 1 and 2 and I knew I was going to have to move up there if we didn’t get that last yellow, so I was pretty thankful that yellow came out so we could put some tires on it.”
Those last few laps were pretty exciting for us, how about for you?
“It made for a good finish, that’s for sure. Man, the 2 (Tyler Reddick) and the 00 (Cole Custer) really both of them were pretty good on the long runs. Our Supra was really good. I feel like the last 5 or 10 laps, I died. Very thankful there to get the yellow and put some tires on it, but it would have been fun to race it out with Tyler there.”
Is it nice to start the season with a win in just the second race of the season?
“Yeah, it means a lot to be able to come over here and win in the second race and what I call the first true race of the season. Hopefully it means something and we can build on this and try and help our long run speed.”
Is it pretty cool to be the driver that got the 150th win in a Toyota in the NASCAR Xfinity Series?
“There’s always these marquee wins, right? The first win, the 100th win, the 150th now, so it’s really special to become the first driver to win in a Supra. You don’t get to be a first timer very often.”
Next Up: The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Boyd Gaming 300. The race is scheduled for Saturday, March 2, with television coverage at 4pm ET on FS1.