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Christopher Bell Makes It Three In A Row at Iowa

NASCAR
Sunday, July 29, 2018

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Christopher Bell
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
How long had it been since a non-Monster Energy Cup regular triumphed in three straight Xfinity Series races?

Even NASCAR star-turned-NBC Sports Network commentator Dale Earnhardt, Jr., didn't seem to know the answer when asked on-air — and he was the most recent driver to accomplish the feat in 1999.

Until Saturday at Iowa Speedway.

Christopher Bell somehow steered clear of a spate of potential disasters within the final 15 laps of the mostly-green U.S. Cellular 250, wheeling his No. 20 Ruud Toyota to Victory Lane for the third consecutive time.

"When it's your day, it's your day," a smiling Bell said as he celebrated by his car. "I'll take them any way."

Whew? Sure.

Wild? Even more so.

"Our Ruud Camry was really, really good," Bell said. "I'm just thankful we were able to get Ruud in Victory Lane. This is their first win. All these Camry's are made in Georgetown, Kentucky here in the United States, so it's special to win for these guys."

Bell somehow kept his car intact after Chase Briscoe spun in front of him with 14 to go. The 23-year-old Joe Gibbs racing rookie's car sustained some damage, but he managed to maintain the lead after the restart — until Garrett Smithley spun out to draw another caution flag. Then the inexplicable occurred. On the following restart, Justin Allgaier — who won the June race at Iowa — boldly drove the high groove to the lead. Bell was shuffled back to fourth during a four-wide restart that completed one lap before contact between Matt Tifft and Max Tullman caused the red flag to wave.

Bell was momentarily stunned. How'd it happen?

"I don't know," he told NBC Sports during the red flag. "I really don't know."

But it would be Allgaier shaking his head after Bell found a way to reverse his fortunes on the final restart. He also said he felt Bell didn't race him as clean as he's accustomed to at the end.  "It's just disappointing to get run over," said Allgaier, who settled for second. "I know that Christopher definitely had the best car. … It's a good day at Iowa. 1-2 in the two races here. I know social media's going to blow up. They're going to hate me for being mad at Christopher, but it is what it is."

Bell said his last-gasp restart maneuver past Allgaier had been executed according to plan.

"I mean, I haven't seen it so I don't know, but the spotter was yelling clear and if I'm clear then it was clean," Bell said.

Bell's third win in as many weeks shuffled up spots atop the point standings.

He now leads Elliott Sadler by 16 points, 702 to 686. Cole Custer — who led 104 laps before car troubles hit later in the race — is third with 684 points and Daniel Hemric ranks fourth, a mere five points behind Custer, who finished ninth in Saturday's race.

Kyle Benjamin, Ross Chastain and John Hunter Nemechek completed Saturday's top-five.

Sadler, Saturday's pole-sitter, led most of the first stage and finished sixth.

Bell led 94 laps and shrugged off disappointment over a second-place June finish at Iowa.

Now the former dirt open-wheel racer's accomplished something no series regular has done in this millennium.

"It's pretty cool, man," Bell said. "I'm just kind of speechless. These races are really hard to win."

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 3 20 Christopher Bell # Ruud Toyota 257 94 58 Running
2 7 7 Justin Allgaier Precision Tank Chevrolet 257 6 48 Running
3 4 18 Kyle Benjamin Toyota Service Centers/Mobil 1 Toyota 257 5 44 Running
4 18 4 Ross Chastain KM Sports/Future Media Sales Chevrolet 257 0 33 Running
5 11 42 John Hunter Nemechek Fire Alarm Services Inc. Chevrolet 257 0 40 Running
6 1 1 Elliott Sadler US Cellular Chevrolet 257 41 43 Running
7 19 16 Ryan Reed Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford 257 0 32 Running
8 14 11 Ryan Truex Phantom Fireworks Chevrolet 257 0 29 Running
9 2 0 Cole Custer Haas Automation Ford 257 104 47 Running
10 12 60 Chase Briscoe Ford Ford 257 0 27 Running
11 10 21 Daniel Hemric South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet 257 0 29 Running
12 9 19 Brandon Jones Menards/Tide Toyota 257 1 36 Running
13 8 3 Shane Lee Childress Vineyards Chevrolet 256 6 25 Running
14 17 5 Michael Annett TMC Chevrolet 256 0 23 Running
15 15 23 Casey Roderick Chevy Accessories Chevrolet 256 0 22 Running
16 21 36 Alex Labbe # RoyAuto.com/VR Victoriaville Chevrolet 255 0 21 Running
17 22 35 Joey Gase SALARMYWESTERN.ORG/Iowa Donate Network 255 0 20 Running
18 6 22 Austin Cindric # LTi Printing Ford 254 0 32 Running
19 23 52 David Starr Honest Wrenches Chevrolet 253 0 18 Running
20 13 51 Jeremy Clements RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet 253 0 17 Running
21 25 78 Tommy Joe Martins Riessen Construction Chevrolet 253 0 16 Running
22 5 9 Tyler Reddick # Takl Chevrolet 252 0 15 Running
23 27 76 Spencer Boyd # Grunt Style Chevrolet 252 0 14 Running
24 31 90 Josh Williams Sleep Well Chevrolet 251 0 13 Running
25 24 0 Garrett Smithley FAME / fame-usa.com Chevrolet 250 0 12 Running
26 16 2 Matt Tifft American Ethanol e15 Chevrolet 249 0 11 Accident
27 28 15 Brandon Hightower Kustom Race Parts Chevrolet 249 0 10 Running
28 30 8 Ray Black II Chevrolet 248 0 9 Running
29 34 1 Vinnie Miller # JAS Expedited Trucking LLC Chevrolet 247 0 8 Running
30 26 26 Max Tullman(i) Zoomi\Myota Ford 245 0 0 Accident
31 36 55 Peter Shepherd III National Exhaust Systems Toyota 242 0 6 Running
32 35 74 Mike Harmon Horizon Transport Chevrolet 241 0 5 Running
33 37 66 Stan Mullis TLC Resorts Chevrolet 236 0 4 Running
34 20 39 Ryan Sieg Lombard Bros. Gaming Chevrolet 206 0 3 Running
35 32 38 Jeff Green RSS Racing Chevrolet 140 0 2 Ignition
36 40 92 Dexter Bean Chevrolet 73 0 PE Vibration
37 29 40 Chad Finchum # MBM Motorsports Toyota 56 0 1 Brakes
38 33 89 Morgan Shepherd Visone RV Chevrolet 46 0 1 Brakes
39 39 93 Stephen Leicht RSS Racing Chevrolet 36 0 1 Electrical
40 38 45 Josh Bilicki # Prevagen Toyota 2 0 1 Engine


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