Christopher Bell fends off teammate to win Xfinity race at Richmond
Christopher Bell headed a Joe Gibbs Racing 1-2 finish at Richmond Raceway, beating rookie teammate Noah Gragson to the line by four tenths of a second.
For Bell, it was his second NXS victory in his 16th career start. "That was pretty special there buddy," Bell said, having led 120 of 250 laps. "Had to work for it. My teammate was really good. I knew from practice both of our cars were really strong."
Noah Gragson finished second in his Xfinity debut, followed by Elliott Sadler, who won the Dash 4 Cash bonus.
"I really wanted to win at this track," Sadler said. "It would mean a lot for me, but we did win the Dash 4 Cash. To win a $100,000 is great. This Camaro was fast all night. It was fun leading at my home track, just came up a little short."
Matt Tifft and Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five. Behind them, pole-sitter Cole Custer, Ryan Truex, Jeremy Clements, Ryan Reed, and Brandon Jones rounded out the top-ten.
Custer led the field to the green flag from pole position, maintaining control of the race until a Lap 18 caution for David Starr slow on the track.
The race resumed seven laps later and Bell quickly made his presence known, surging into second place. After working under Custer for several laps, Bell finally completed the pass for the top spot on Lap 44.
Custer then fell back to fourth before a caution with just 12 laps to go in the stage when Josh Bilicki bounced off the wall. A handful of cars pitted while the majority of the field stayed out for what would be a six-lap shootout.
On the restart, Dash 4 Cash contender Daniel Hemric got the jump on Bell and moved into the race lead, winning the opening stage of the race. Bell was second, Custer third, Jeb Burton fourth, Sadler fifth, Tifft sixth, Tyler Reddick seventh, Jones eighth, Nemechek ninth and Cindric tenth.
As the leaders pitted during the stage break, those who pitted during the previous yellow and assumed the top-five positions. At the front now was Nemechek, followed by Michael Annett and Noah Gragson.
On Lap 89, the race went back green with Nemechek in control. It took him half the stage, but Bell eventually made his way by the No. 42 and retook control of the race.
With 20 laps to go in the stage, the battle for the lead became a three-way fight between Bell, Sadler and Gragson. Sadler prevailed, taking the lead and the stage win for JR Motorsports.
In the final laps of the stage, Stage 1 winner Hemric cut a right front tire down and limped around the track, losing multiple laps. He went on to finish 29th.
Behind Sadler at the conclusion of the second stage, followed by Gragson, Tifft, Bell, Custer, Nemechek, Brandon Jones, Tyler Reddick, Cindric and Ryan Truex.
Although Sadler held the lead for the ensuing restart, it was Gragson that took control as the race went back green. The caution flag quickly returned though when another Dash 4 Cash driver found trouble. After Spencer Gallagher got into the wall, Justin Allgaier had to check up and as a result, got spun off the nose of Burton. He was able to continue.
The next restart with 80 laps to go would be the last and the caution would never return again.
Bell grabbed the lead, but he did not cruise to the checkered flag. Making his Xfinity debut, teammate Gragson got the back bumper of Bell with ten laps to go, but he was unable to complete the pass for the race lead.
"It's definitely a team effort," said Gragson. "Not racing here before in the Xfinity Series, I didn't know what to expect.
"Just so thankful for the opportunity."
|13||42||John Hunter Nemechek||Chevrolet||250||24.279||36|
|15||38||J.J. Yeley||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|16||36||Alex Labbé||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|17||23||Spencer Gallagher||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|18||4||Ross Chastain||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|19||90||Brandon Brown||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|20||5||Michael Annett||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|21||39||Ryan Sieg||Chevrolet||249||1 lap|
|22||35||Joey Gase||Chevrolet||248||2 laps|
|23||8||Tommy Joe Martins||Chevrolet||247||3 laps|
|24||28||Tony Mrakovich||Ford||247||3 laps|
|25||15||Joe Nemechek||Chevrolet||247||3 laps|
|26||60||Chase Briscoe||Ford||246||4 laps|
|27||0||Garrett Smithley||Chevrolet||246||4 laps|
|28||76||Spencer Boyd||Chevrolet||246||4 laps|
|29||21||Daniel Hemric||Chevrolet||246||4 laps||11|
|30||24||Kaz Grala||Ford||245||5 laps|
|31||01||Vinnie Miller||Chevrolet||244||6 laps|
|32||78||B.J. McLeod||Chevrolet||244||6 laps|
|33||45||Josh Bilicki||Toyota||244||6 laps|
|34||40||Chad Finchum||Toyota||238||12 laps|
|35||52||David Starr||Chevrolet||229||21 laps|
|36||74||Mike Harmon||Chevrolet||133||117 laps|
|37||55||Stephen Leicht||Toyota||128||122 laps|
|38||66||Timmy Hill||Dodge||107||143 laps|
|39||89||Morgan Shepherd||Chevrolet||32||218 laps|
|40||93||Jeff Green||Chevrolet||26||224 laps |
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About this article
|Location||Richmond International Raceway|
|Drivers||Christopher Bell , Noah Gragson|
|Teams||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Article type||Race report|