NASCAR

NXS : Christopher Bell Gets First NASCAR XFINITY Series Win at Kansas

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(via NASCAR Wire Service)KANSAS CITY, Kan. Ė Saturdayís Kansas Lottery 300 may have been the opening race in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff, but the real drama involved two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates outside the championship battle.

On Lap 197 of 200 at Kansas Speedway, Christopher Bell caught and passed Erik Jones for the lead, clearing Jonesí No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with a slide job and drifting up to the outside wall right in front of his JGR teammate.

Under a full head of steam, Jones plowed into the back of Bellís No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, wrecking the No. 20 Camry, which slowed markedly and finished 15th, a lap down.

Bell took the checkered flag with polesitter Tyler Reddick and some hard feelings on Jonesí part in his wake.

“Itís not dirt racing,” Jones complained, referencing Bellís dirt-track background. “Heís not clear. I canít just stop on the top. I didnít expect him to drive in on the bottom so hard he wouldnít be able to hold his lane.

“Itís unfortunate. I thought we were going to race for the win, and unfortunately, it wasnít much of a raceóit was more of a wreck. Weíll just have to move on.”

Jones had led four times for 186 laps before Bell ran him down from more than two seconds back in the closing laps. The series leader in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Bell got the victory in his fifth start, becoming the first driver to get his maiden XFINITY win at the 1.5-mile track.

Bell also is the 10th straight different winner in the series.

“I never want to wreck anyone, especially my teammate,” Bell said. “I donít know. My spotter said ĎClear.í I drove it in really deep. I felt like I cleared him Ė I donít know.

“Itís my first XFINITY win. Iím sorry that Erik didnít finish the race, but, man, Iím just stoked. This thing was awesome. To be able to win in the XFINITY Series is something I dreamed of as a kid. We were both on old tires. We were sliding aroundÖ

“Bummed for the way it finished, but Iím glad it held on, man. I was getting tire smoke in the car there those last couple of laps, and I was worried we werenít going to make it.”

Ryan Blaney ran third, followed by playoff drivers and JR Motorsports teammates William Byron and Justin Allgaier, the latter of whom collected 11 stage points and took over the top spot in the standings by two points over Byron, who had to start from the rear of the field because of unapproved pre-race adjustments to his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

Elliott Sadler, another JRM entry, recovered from a spin in Turn 4 on Lap 76 to finish seventh and is third in the Playoff standings, 11 points behind Allgaier.

“A tire came apartóI donít know whether I ran over something or not,” said Sadler, who turned sideways in the path of oncoming traffic. Eventual sixth-place finisher Austin Dillon did a masterful job of avoiding Sadlerís spinning car.

“I gave Ďem a big target, but nobody hit us,” a relieved Sadler said after the race.

Beyond the top three Playoff positions, little was decided. With two races left in the Round of 8, thereís an eight-point gap between fourth-place Brennan Poole, who ran 12th on Saturday, and eighth-place Cole Custer, who brought his No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford to pit road with two laps left because of a cut tire and finished 19th, two laps down.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS
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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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