Christopher Bell dominates for Truck Series win at Atlanta
It was a Bell-ringing day in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Pole-sitter Christopher Bell won the first two stages of the event, then regained the lead late after a caution to claim his third career Truck win in 32 starts.
Following a late caution brought out by an Austin Cindric spin, Bell had a great restart with two laps left, holding off a strong charge by former Truck Series champion Matt Crafton.
“This thing was really fast all weekend,” Bell told FS1 in victory lane. “It was a dream machine. It was really, really good.”
Added Crafton, “We had a shot. At the end of the day that was what it all about. It was close.”
Bell dominated the first two stages, leading the first 83 laps. When the third stage began, teammate and team owner Kyle Busch gained the lead coming off pit road, with Bell alongside on the front row.
Busch seemed headed to the win, but he fell back and then cut a tire, making contact with the outside wall and ending his chances at the checkered flag. He finished 26th.
Bell ultimately led 99 laps in the 130-lap event.
Crafton finished second, followed by Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes and Chase Elliott. Sixth through 10th were Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Grant Enfinger, Timothy Peters and Ross Chastain.
Prior to the Truck race, Busch won the Xfinity Series’ Rinnai 250 earlier in the afternoon and was seeking a three-race sweep, including Sunday’s featured Folds of Honor Quik Trip 500 NASCAR Cup race. He still can go 2 for 3.
STAGE 1 (Laps 1-40) WINNER: Christopher Bell.
STAGE 2 (Laps 41-80) WINNER: Christopher Bell.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: It was a good day for Truck Series regulars, who claimed the top four spots and six of the first nine spots. … Chase Elliott, who made only his second Truck Series start since 2013, finished fifth.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Last year’s race winner, John Hunter Nemechek, was knocked out of the race when a right-side tire blew out and sent him into the wall on Lap 79. Nemechek finished 28th. … After avoiding a crash on the first lap and improving from 17th to ninth over the next 25 laps, NASCAR On NBC analyst Parker Kligerman lost power in his truck under caution on Lap 28. He coasted to a stop on the back straightaway. He was unable to get restarted and finished 31st in the 32-truck field.
NOTABLE: Surprising Daytona winner Kaz Grala finished 15th. … Japanese driver Akinori Ogata, making his sixth career Truck start and first of 2017, was involved in a late Stage 2 incident that ended his day with a 30th place finish.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Please, please do not repave this racetrack. This is, by far, the coolest racetrack that we race on.” – Runner-up Matt Crafton on FS1 (AMS will begin repaving the entire track following Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race).
WHAT’S NEXT: The Truck Series is off for the next four weeks. The next race is April 1 at Martinsville Speedway.