For 2nd Straight Week, Bell Beats Cup Veteran En Route To XFINITY Series Victory In New Hampshire

Last weekend at the Kentucky Speedway, Christopher Bell came from the back to the front in his own version of a “spin and win.” On Saturday, he blocked Brad Keselowski from doing nearly the same. Last Saturday night, Bell held off Kyle Busch en route to a NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. This Saturday, he held off Keselowski en route to his second straight win and third of the 2018 season.

Bell, had fresher tires than Keselowski and made the pass for the win with 18 laps-to-go and held off Keselowski for his fourth career series victory in his No. 20 Toyota. 

It goes to show you how good this Joe Gibbs Racing driver could be. To hold off Busch who’s scored 92 series wins (most ever) and who also won a Cup title last weekend and Keselowski who’s tied for fourth on the all-time wins list with 38 and also won a Cup title too, and did so in winning fashion in a span of seven days.

But, if not for a late caution and a last pit call, Bell likely wouldn’t be the one celebrating in victory lane.

See, Keselowski passed Bell for the lead on Lap 146 and looked well on his way to cruising to his third career win on the Magic Mile. On the final green flag pit sequence shortly thereafter, Keselowski elected to take just two tires on his final stop. Bell and most of the other leaders decided to go with four fresh Goodyear’s. They had to do something different in hopes a caution flag would fall.

They got their wish.

Jeremy Clements got into pit road too hot and hit the big barrels at pit entry. That would bring out the sixth caution of the afternoon and bunched the field back up. Keselowski and Daniel Hemric would restart the race on the front row with two tires while everyone else behind had four fresh ones.

There’d be another caution flag 11 laps later for Garrett Smithley and Chad Finchum crashing in Turn 2. That set up a thrilling battle to the end in which Bell got by Keselowski on Lap 182 and never looked back.

Bell led a race high 93 of 200 laps and gave JGR their fourth straight New Hampshire win and eighth in the last 10 years.

Keselowski, who initially earned the pole in his No. 22 Ford had to settle for a runner-up. He won his previous two starts on the season and now has a second place effort to go with it. He missed the pre race drivers meeting and had to give up his top starting spot as a result. He’d quickly charge through the field though and would have won.

Ryan Preece gave JGR two of the top three finishers with his third place run in his No. 18 Toyota. He was second in this very race last year.

John Hunter Nemechek tied his career best series finish of fourth (finished fourth in Atlanta too) while Matt Tifft rounded out the top five.

The series has a standalone event next weekend at the Iowa Speedway.

Lakes Region 200 Results

  1. 20 Bell R
  2. 22 Keselowski
  3. 18 Preece
  4. 42 Nemechek
  5.  2 Tifft
  6. 19 Jones
  7.  7 Allgaier
  8.  1 Sadler
  9. 00 Custer
  10.  3 Dillon
  11. 21 Hemric
  12. 16 Reed
  13. 11 Truex
  14. 61 Grala R
  15. 39 Sieg
  16.  5 Annett
  17. 60 Cindric R
  18. 51 Clements
  19. 23 Sauter -1
  20. 78 Martins -1
  21. 40 Finchum -2
  22. 35 Gase -2
  23. 36 Labbe R -2
  24. 76 Boyd R -2
  25.  9 Reddick R -4
  26.  4 Chastain -4
  27. 01 Miller R -5
  28. 52 Starr -5
  29. 55 Currey -10
  30.  8 Ruch -12
  31. 74 Harmon -18
  32.  0 Smithley -24
  33. 90 Theetge -28
  34. 45 Bilicki -35
  35. 15 McLeod OUT
  36. 38 Yeley OUT
  37. 66 Long OUT
  38. 13 Hill OUT
  39. 89 Shepherd OUT
  40. 93 Green OUT

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