Bell earns KBM's 50th truck win in Gateway thriller
Christopher Bell scored his second career Truck Series win and his first on pavement at Gateway Saturday night.
Bell's victory locks him into the 2016 Chase for the Truck title, holding off a late charge from pole-sitter Ben Rhodes.
"This one is for my guys," said Bell. "They deserve this one. We've been fast all year long and I've just kept making mistakes. Track position was everything.
“This is just a dream come true. Eldora came fairly quick in my NASCAR deal, but the next one didn’t come so quick, but this one – it was a long time coming.
"I mean, I just can’t thank everyone enough over there on this No. 4 team. It’s a dream to be here and just really thankful that – I wouldn’t be here without Toyota, JBL, KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports), Kyle (Busch, team owner), Samantha (Busch), everyone, my crew chief Jerry (Baxter), everyone who believes in me. I’ve made a lot of mistakes and I’ve used up my fair share of mulligans, so I’m glad to be here.”
Daniel Hemric finished third, Johnny Sauter fourth, and Jones fifth. John-Hunter Nemechek, German Quiroga, Kaz Grala, Ben Kennedy, and Timothy Peters rounded out the top ten.
"He did an awesome job all night," added runner-up Ben Rhodes. He raced with respect and we could use a lot more of that in this series after tonight. After tasting (victory) so many times now and missing out, it's been tough."
Sauter took the lead at the start of the race and held it for most of the early going.
Jones' top five is especially impressive considering the significant damage he sustained to the left rear after spinning into the outside wall earlier in the race.
The Brad Keselowski Racing duo of Tyler Reddick and Daniel Hemric were able to spend some time out front after staying out during an early round of pit stops. Both drivers were able to hold their own, still running first and third as the 20-minute caution clock ran out.
Rookie sensation William Byron moved into control of the race during the next round of pit stops and maintained the lead on the restart that followed. Behind him, the BKR teammates had a coming together. Hemric spun after a late dive under Reddick, making slight contact with the outside wall.
A green-flag run took hold of the race until the caution clock expired and slowed the field once again. Sauter retook the lead during the crucial set of pit stops with a two-tire call. Byron did the same and was second, while Crafton fell to 11th.
On the restart, Bell rocketed to the lead on the outside with four fresh tires. But moments after completing the pass, a three-truck accident forced the race to be put under the red flag with 40 laps to go. Austin Wayne Self and Jordan Anderson got together and after impacting the outside wall, Self rolled back down the track, resulting in a massive impact with Jennifer Jo Cobb.
The Big One
With 17 laps to go, Nemechek was reeling in Bell for the race lead with John Wes Townley crashed. Chaos ensued on the following restart. Several trucks washed up the track, including the leaders. This allowed Tyler Reddick to make it three-wide for the top spot. He got a shove from Rhodes into Turn 3 and got up into Nemechek as a result. He then spun down the track, clipping Crafton and sending him hard into the outside wall. Several other drivers got a piece of it as well.
"You got to go on the restarts ... I hate it for the 8 and the 88. It wasn't their fault. I feel bad for all those guys. We had a shot to win this race tonight," said Reddick.
The red flag was needed for the second time of the night, lasting 11 minutes.
The red flag came out for a third time soon after when Townley and Gallagher had a purposeful coming together. A fistfight broke out between the two rivals, which was allowed to carry on for a bit before being broken up by a NASCAR official. (WATCH FIGHT).
The race restarted with just two laps to go and Bell was able to maintain his advantage by choosing the bottom of the race track. The win is the 50th for KBM, tying them with the all-time record set by Roush-Fenway.
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