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Friday March 22nd, 2019 4:25AM

Christopher Bell dominates For Atlanta Xfinity victory

By Brandon Reed Reporter
  Contact Editor

HAMPTON, Ga. – Christopher Bell wired it in Atlanta on Saturday.

The Norman, Oklahoma native completely crushed the competition at Atlanta Motor Speedway en route to the victory in Saturday’s Rinnai 250 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

It’s also a milestone victory for Toyota, as Bell gave the new Supra its first NASCAR victory and the 150th overall victory for the manufacturer.

Despite how strong he was, Bell was not quick to say it was a perfectly executed day on his part.

“I don’t know about that one. I felt pretty sloppy there as a driver at sometimes,” Bell said. “Running the yellow line is so hard and I don’t know, I would just struggle on the longer runs there. Like I said, I knew that I was struggling on the bottom of 1 and 2 and I knew I was going to have to move up there if we didn’t get that last yellow, so I was pretty thankful that yellow came out so we could put some tires on it.”

Bell led 142 of the race’s 163 laps en route to his ninth career NXS victory in a race that saw only one on-track caution. That caution came when John Hunter Nemechek spun on the backstretch with eight laps to go.

While Bell grabbed the lead again on the final restart with four laps to go, Cole Custer powered to second and reeled in the leader coming to the white flag.

But Bell had the stronger mount, and held off the challenge for the victory.

Bell said had he not gone to the high side on the last restart, Custer “probably would have” had the momentum to make a run.

“Man, the top is just so good over there in (turns) 1 and 2,” Bell said. “Even there on that long run coming to five to go, I knew I was going to have to move up to block the 2 car (Tyler Reddick) at some point. Just really struggling there. Man, very thankful and very fortunate to be able to drive this Rheem Camry – or sorry, this Rheem Supra. It’s the first Supra win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, so that means a lot to me to be able to become the first driver to win in this.”

Custer finished second, and said he thought it was a “fun race.”

“I thought the end was pretty good,” said Custer. “I thought I might get it for a second. We just didn’t have enough there and Bell kind of took my line there in the last lap. It is a great start to the year in our first race with the Jacob Companies Mustang. We got a new crew chief and it was huge for us to start the year strong. I feel like we will be a threat all year.”

Justin Allgaier finished in third, with Atlanta’s Brandon Jones in fourth and Tyler Reddick in fifth.

Jeffrey Earnhardt, Ryan Preece, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson and Austin Cindric rounded out the top ten.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Atlanta Motor Speedway – Hampton, GA
Rinnai 250 – February 23, 2019

1. (3) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 163.
2. (1) Cole Custer, Ford, 163.
3. (7) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 163.
4. (9) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 163.
5. (12) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 163.
6. (8) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 163.
7. (6) Ryan Preece(i), Chevrolet, 163.
8. (13) Justin Haley #, Chevrolet, 163.
9. (4) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 163.
10. (5) Austin Cindric, Ford, 163.
11. (18) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 163.
12. (16) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 163.
13. (11) Brandon Brown #, Chevrolet, 163.
14. (15) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 163.
15. (28) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 162.
16. (35) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 162.
17. (22) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 162.
18. (17) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 162.
19. (23) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 162.
20. (10) John Hunter Nemechek #, Chevrolet, 162.
21. (19) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 161.
22. (21) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 159.
23. (20) Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 159.
24. (29) B.J. McLeod, Chevrolet, 159.
25. (30) Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, 159.
26. (2) Chad Finchum, Toyota, 158.
27. (27) David Starr, Chevrolet, 158.
28. (33) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 157.
29. (32) Joey Gase, Toyota, 156.
30. (25) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 154.
31. (24) Tommy Joe Martins, Toyota, 152.
32. (14) Vinnie Miller, Chevrolet, Transmission, 94.
33. (36) Mike Harmon, Chevrolet, Electrical, 90.
34. (26) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, Ignition, 87.
35. (37) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Brakes, 45.
36. (31) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Vibration, 42.
37. (34) John Jackson, Toyota, Suspension, 14.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 139.456 mph.

Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 48 Mins, 0 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.191 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 3 for 16 laps.

Lead Changes: 11 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders: C. Custer 0;C. Bell 1-42;C. Custer 43;C. Bell 44-82;C. Custer 83;T. Reddick 84-91;C. Bell 92-122;B. Jones 123;N. Gragson # 124-132;C. Bell 133-156;T. Reddick 157;C. Bell 158-163.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) Christopher Bell 5 times for 142 laps; Noah Gragson # 1 time for 9 laps; Tyler Reddick 2 times for 9 laps; Cole Custer 2 times for 2 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 20,00,7,2,19,23,18,22,8,98

Stage #2 Top Ten: 20,00,2,19,18,22,1,98,8,23

Top 10 in Points: 1. Christopher Bell – 99 (1 Win); 2. Brandon Jones – 95; 3. Justin Allgaier – 81; 4. Tyler Reddick – 80; 5. Cole Custer – 76; 6. Austin Cindric – 76; 7. Jeffrey Earnhardt – 76; 8. Michael Annett – 71 (1 Win); 9. Ross Chastain – 66; 10. Ryan Sieg – 63.

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, Xfinity Series
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, xfinity series, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Motorsports Live On WDUN, #GAdrivers
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