Camping World Truck Series

NCWTS: Christopher Bell Claims Fourth Win of 2017 at Pocono


(VIA NASCAR Wire Service) LONG POND, Pa. – With his boss out of the race, Christopher Bell filled the void, pulling away to win the Overton’s 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday at Pocono Raceway.

Bell overtook John Hunter Nemechek on Lap 54 of 60 at the 2.5-mile triangular track and finished 1.964 seconds ahead of runner-up Ben Rhodes, who passed Nemechek for the second position on Lap 56.

One circuit later Ryan Truex took the third spot from Nemechek, who held on to fourth at the finish.

The victory was Bell’s first at Pocono, his fourth of the season and the sixth of his career – and it gave him the series points lead.

Kyle Busch, Bell’s team owner at Kyle Busch Motorsports, won the first two 15-lap stages, but moments after the restart that began the green-flag portion of the final stage on Lap 36, Busch’s No. 51 Toyota was wiped out by contact from Justin Haley’s Chevrolet.

After one more caution and the final restart on Lap 45, it took Bell nine laps to race from fifth to the lead. After battling side-by-side with Nemechek for two laps, Bell gained momentum through the Tunnel Turn and made the winning pass in Turn 3, after struggling to clear the No. 8 Chevrolet down the long frontstretch on the previous circuit.

“The only real passes that I made down the front straightaway were whenever they gave it to me,” Bell said. “It was pretty tough, because I wasn’t good enough with the side-draft to stall the guy beside me and clear him by the time I got to Turn 1. I looked up in my mirror, and whenever I got side-by-side (with Nemechek) we were just bringing all those guys behind us with us.

“I was just trying to figure out where we were going to beat him at, and, thankfully, I showed enough nose to where he couldn’t get to the bottom of the Tunnel Turn, and it screwed up his exit out of (Turn) 2.”

Ultimately, it was clean air that made the difference for Bell.

“It was definitely who could get in front on the restarts,” said Rhodes, who spent the last three laps breaking the draft with the pursuing Truex, taking Truex’s line and blocking the No. 16 Tundra.

“I was doing everything in my wheelhouse to keep him behind me,” Rhodes said.

Truex was keenly aware of the second-place finisher’s tactics but said he would have done the same thing if the positions had been reversed.

“Track position was extremely big,” said Truex, who posted the second-best finish of his Truck Series career, one spot short of the runner-up result he posted in last year’s season opener at Daytona. “Once we got single file, it was really hard to pass. There was a lot of blocking.

“It’s frustrating that we’re this good and this close, but it’s great that we’re continuing to have good runs like this.”

Bell leaves Pocono with an 18-point lead in the standings over defending champion Johnny Sauter, who started from the rear of the field because of unapproved adjustments to his No. 21 Chevrolet and finished fifth.

“That’s really special – I’m just so thankful to be able to drive this thing,” Bell said of assuming the series lead. “It’s a dream come true to be able to compete in the NASCAR series and to be able to drive for Toyota and Kyle Busch Motorsports. It’s just a dream come true.”

Note: The No. 52 truck of Stewart Friesen, which finished 12th in the race, was found in post-race inspection to be missing one lug nut. Any potential penalties will be announced next week.


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About Jacob Mullins

Jacob Mullins serves as the managing editor and senior NASCAR writer covering all three national touring series's. You can find him on on Twitter at @JMulls15. An intercollegiate athletic administrator by trade, Mullins can be found at the big tracks as well as the local short tracks in the Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Mullins enjoys social media, photography and graphic design. A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Mullins follows all forms of racing, Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles) and college football (Virginia Tech Hokies).

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  1. Brian

    July 30, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Good Morning Jacob, some pretty good and wild racin’ yesterday huh !! I thought for sure Justin was going to Win and I knew he should have pitted instead of gambling on a late caution, heck he had the fastest car. Crew Chief blew that one bad…
    So glad Kyle got taken out in the Truck race too…Vince Welch pulled the “Stat” on Rowdy about him winning 48 Truck races himself and that all other drivers only had a total of 49 and that he doesn’t run full time in the series…did ya notice that after Kyle got taken out, it turned into a great race ?
    I swear if I had anything to say about it, and I’ve been saying this for the last 15 years, if you claim at the beginning of the Season that you are registering for the Cup series, that’s what you race in…only. You have graduated from the “lower” Series, be it a Truck, Xfinity, Indy or a Legends Car, you’ve reached the Top Tier, you can’t go back down hill that season.
    It’s like The G.O.A.T. bringing his Boys down to play at some local College football game……..blow out…
    And especially with this new points format, just look how many Stage Points and Playoff Points have been “robbed” by Kyle and the other “Bushwhackers”…(lol = old school).
    If NASCAR says Cup drivers don’t earn any points Racing in the Lower Series, then tell me how they can take points away then ???
    If your going to let them run, don’t let them interfere in the Points Race. If they win a Stage, then the 1st Xfinity/Truck driver next in line gets the Playoff Point and the Stage Win points, and so on down the line.
    This Rule needs to be corrected before next year (too late to change it now for this year as the damage has already been done) because it has already made a huge difference on the points standings and has ruined a couple of drivers careers as I can remember a couple of teams didn’t make the field because of all of the Cup drivers in the race, and others that got a bad finish because of the Cup drivers beating them, and they ran out of money and had to close up shop…which is sad, I mean these guys are out there fighting for their livelihood, not just to get some practice in before Sundays race.
    Well I got to get ready for Qualifying, enjoy the Cup Race.

    • Jacob

      August 1, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Brian –

      The racing at Pocono was solid this past weekend. Although the MENCS race was a bit of a snooze for stage 1 and the stage 3, stage 2 racing was some of the better racing I have seen at Pocono.

      I understand and agree with your sediments on Kyle and other Cup regulars moonlighting or “Busch Whacking” in the lower divisions. With that term, I can tell you’ve been a fan of NASCAR for a while.

      I take it your a fan of the announcement today by NASCAR, I know I am. However, I feel that NASCAR shouldn’t allow them to race at all. In reference to Kyle’s comments today about NASCAR not allowing him to race he would shut KBM, I think that is very narrow-minded and would only hinder the growth of the sport, but as an owner, it’s his decision not to put the money into the sport.

      What did you think of Sunday’s race? Thoughts on Watkins Glen this coming weekend?

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