Christopher Bell Dominates UNOH 175 En Route To Playoff Opening Victory

On NASCAR’s top level, Martin Truex Jr. has done the rare feat of sweeping all three stages in a race twice. In NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition, Christopher Bell was trying to accomplish that rare opportunity in Saturday afternoon’s UNOH 175. If he was going to go that though, he was going to have to beat Truex’s brother Ryan Truex.

Bell did just that. 

Christopher Bell during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2017 in Loudon, New Hampshire.

The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver passed Truex in Turn 3 with 16 laps-to-go and never looked back en route to a victory in the opening race of the 2017 Truck Series playoffs. Bell, led a race-high 77 of the 175 laps in reaching victory lane for the fifth time of the season and seventh time of his Truck Series career.

The victory automatically advances Bell into the second round of the playoffs as a result.

Bell, won the first two stages and stalked Truex in the third and final stage, until getting his No. 4 Toyota by heading to Lap 160 and pulling away for KBM’s fifth win at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the last seven starts.

Last year, William Byron won the season opening race at the “Magic Mile” and here Bell was with Byron’s crew chief and Truck from last year doing the exact same.

Truex, would bring his No. 16 Toyota home second for his best career finish in the series. It was his fifth top five finish in the last six races though, as he led 28 laps on Saturday.

17 year old Todd Gilliland brought his No. 51 Toyota home third for his best career finish too. It was a 1-3 finish for KBM.

Grant Enfinger gave Toyota a clean sweep of the top four finishing positions, bringing his No. 98 Toyota to a fourth place finish on Saturday afternoon. It was his eighth top five result in the last 12 races on the season.

Stewart Friesen also earned his best career finish in rounding out the top five.

Playoff contenders Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes would come home sixth and seventh respectively to give Toyota’s six of the top seven finishers.

Austin Cindric, Johnny Sauter, Kaz Grala and Chase Briscoe would finish eighth through 11th respectively.

Sauter, had a top five truck until being caught up in an early race incident with pole sitter Noah Gragson on Lap 63. Gragson, spun in Turn 4 and Sauter had no where to go as Gragson ran into the right side of his truck. His No. 21 Chevrolet was heavily damaged which hurt the aerodynamics of his Truck.

John Hunter Nemechek had a miserable day in having an early race mechanical problem. They’d go behind the wall to fix his No. 8 Chevrolet as he’d finish 36 laps down in 20th.

There’s two races left in the first round of the playoffs. Bell is automatically through to round two, but Sauter (+25), Crafton (+24), Rhodes (+15), Cindric (+8) and Grala (+3) currently hold the other five spots. Briscoe (-3) and Nemechek (-7) will try to work their way back in.

The series heads to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway next Saturday night.

UNOH 175 Results

  1.  4 Bell
  2. 16 Truex
  3. 51 Gilliland
  4. 98 Enfinger R
  5. 52 Friesen R
  6. 88 Crafton
  7. 27 Rhodes
  8. 19 Cindric R
  9. 21 Sauter
  10. 33 Grala R
  11. 29 Briscoe R
  12. 13 Coughlin R
  13. 24 Haley R
  14. 44 Self -1
  15. 18 Gragson R -1
  16. 45 Bell -2
  17. 50 Reaume -6
  18. 49 Chavous R -7
  19.  6 Benning OUT
  20.  8 Nemechek -36
  21.  1 Anderson OUT
  22. 02 Hill OUT
  23. 83 Emerling OUT
  24. 10 Cobb OUT
  25. 15 Gaulding OUT
  26. 87 Nemechek OUT
  27. 63 Murphy OUT
  28. 57 Senica OUT
  29.  0 Ciccarelli OUT

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