Christopher Bell wins first career Xfinity Series race at Kansas
Christopher Bell passed teammate Erik Jones for the lead with four laps left in the Kansas Lottery 300, withstood contact from behind by Jones and claimed his first career Xfinity Series win.
Bell, driving the No. 18 Toyota, won in his fifth career start. It comes in the opening race of the second round of the playoffs.
Bell passed Jones in Turn 3 and drifted up to the wall as they exited Turn 4, where Jones then ran into him.
“I haven’t seen it so I can’t really talk much about it,” Bell told NBC. “But I never want to wreck anyone, especially my teammate. I don’t know. My spotter said clear, I drove it in really deep. I felt like I cleared him (watches replay). I don’t know man, I was clear. It’s my first Xfinity win. I’m sorry that Erik couldn’t finish the race. But I’m just stoked. This thing was awesome.”
Jones dominated the race until the pass by Bell. Jones led 186 of 200 laps and swept the first two stages. He finished 15th, one lap down due to damage from running into the back of Bell.
“It’s not dirt racing, he (wasn’t) clear,” Jones told NBC. “I can’t just stop on the top. I didn’t expect him to drive in on the bottom so far he wouldn’t be able to hold his lane. It’s unfortunate. ... I thought we were going to race for the win. Unfortunately there wasn’t much of a race. It was more of a wreck.”
Jones has not finished better than 15th in his last four Xfinity starts.
It is the first win for Joe Gibbs Racing since Denny Hamlin won at Darlington Raceway, a five-race stretch. JGR has won 11 Xfinity races this season.
Bell, 22, is a full-time driver in the Camping World Truck Series. He will race full-time for JGR in the Xfinity Series next year.
The top five was Bell, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Justin Allgaier.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Erik Jones
STAGE 2 WINNER: Erik Jones
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Elliott Sadler finished seventh after bouncing back from a spin in Turn 4 on Lap 77 and a pit penalty … Tyler Reddick gave the No. 42 Chevrolet its fourth top-two finish in the last five races ... William Byron finished fourth and Matt Tifft placed eighth after both had to start from the rear for unapproved adjustments.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Daniel Hemric finished 18th, a lap down after receiving a penalty for pitting outside his box … Blake Koch finished 23rd, four laps down after getting into the wall with about 35 laps to go ... Cole Custer finished 19th, two laps down after pitting for a bad tire with less than five laps to go.
NOTABLE: The 186 laps led by Erik Jones are his most in 75 career Xfinity starts ... The cars of Matt Tifft and Ryan Blaney each had one unsecured lug nut after the race. Any penalties will be announced later in the week.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I just don’t think that’s the way to do it. I get that (Christopher Bell) was clear. He wasn’t clear for the run I was having on the top. I was in the gas. There was no way I could slow up enough to let him. It’s just unfortunate. It took me out of the race. … I just don’t really appreciate that. I don’t think many people will.’’ - Erik Jones
WHAT’S NEXT: O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway at 8:30 p.m. ET on Nov. 4 on NBCSN