FORT WORTH, TX – Last year, Christopher Bell left the Texas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR XFINITY Series playoff race knowing that he needed to win the next weeks’ race at Phoenix in order to race for a championship at the Homestead-Miami Speedway a few weeks later.
This year, the worry is gone.
Bell, dominated Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 en route to his 16th win of his career, tying Jeff Green and Joe Nemechek for 18th on the all-time wins list. The victory propels Bell to the Championship 4, meaning it doesn’t matter what he does next weekend at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix, he will race for a title for the second consecutive year.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver gave the organization their fourth win at Texas in the last six races. The Oklahoma native led a race-high 101 of 200 laps on Saturday night in earning his first career win on what he considers his home track.
Bell, led 127 laps in a third place effort in his No. 20 Toyota back in the spring race. This was his third top three finish in his last four Texas starts in the series. It’s also his ninth top two result since mid July on the season.
Ross Chastain would bring his No. 10 Chevrolet home runner-up for his second top five result of the season. The other was a win in the July race at Daytona. Chastain, stayed out while all the other leaders hit pit lane on Lap 141 and inherited the lead for the first time of the night. He’d go the final 70 laps without pitting as he led 29 laps following his maneuver out of pit road.
Bell, was just too good as he swept both stages for the seventh time of the season and now has 20 stage wins, to go along with getting by Chastain on Lap 170 and never looking back in leading the final 30 laps of the race.
Austin Cindric finished third in his No. 22 Ford for his fourth top three finish in five playoff races run this season. It was also his second straight third place run in the Texas playoff race.
Brandon Jones earned his first career Texas top five finish with a fourth place run in his No. 19 Toyota while John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top five in his No. 23 Chevrolet.
The race was a wild night for playoff drivers. Tyler Reddick crashed on Lap 160 when he tried to evade Chase Briscoe who got into the wall in front of him. Reddick’s night ended with a 29th place finish. He came home runner-up in each of the last two Texas races and is now +37 in the standings heading to Phoenix.
Briscoe, would have damage from the contact with the wall but not pit. That cost him dearly as a tire ended up going down and he’d have to pit as a result. He’d come home 22nd, three laps down and falls from two points behind the cutoff to 18.
Noah Gragson crashed on Lap 149 when he tried to pass Jeb Burton coming into the dogleg on the front stretch. Unfortunatley, he wasn’t cleared of Harrison Burton yet and it sent Gragson’s No. 9 Chevrolet into the infield grass. That in turn badly damaged his race car as he’d finish 30th as a result. He’s -47 in the playoff standings.
Cindric, is -31 despite his top five finish. Michael Annett finished 11th and scored zero stage points. He’s -28.
Cole Custer finished eighth and is +52 while Justin Allgaier saw his six race stretch of top fives come to an end with a sixth place result in his No. 7 Chevrolet. He’s +18 and holding the final playoff spot that transfers to Homestead.