It was a misty afternoon as the NASCAR Xfinity Series took to the track for the Rinnai 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but for Christopher Bell, it was all smiles.
Bell in his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra dominated the race. Bell won all three stages and led the most laps leading 142 out of 163. A late caution bunched the field up as the green flag flew with three laps to go and drivers trying to get the top spot, but Bell was just too strong today.
“Man, I’m very thankful and very fortunate to drive this Rheem Supra,” Bell said, “It’s the first Supra in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, that means a lot to me to be able to become their first driver to win this.” Bell then added, “The Supra is awesome, it looks great and it’s fast too. It’s a lot of fun and I’m just honored to be here.”
Stage 1 and Stage 2 both ran caution free, with Bell sweeping both stages. Cole Custer who started on the pole in his No. 00 Jacob Companies Ford Mustang came up just a little short but still had a great run.
The final stage of the race saw Brandon Jones get the jump off pit road in first place, however, a speeding penalty sent him to the rear of the field giving Tyler Reddick the top spot. It took Bell about 11 laps to retake the lead and it was game over. A late caution for the spinning car of John Hunter Nemechek saw the field bunch up for a late-race shootout but it wouldn’t deter Bell who took the checkered flag in first place. Custer would end up in the runner up spot.
“That was a fun race. I thought the end was pretty good. I thought I might get it for a second. We just didn’t have enough there and Bell kind of took my line there in the last lap. It is a great start to the year in our first race with the Jacob Companies Mustang. We got a new crew chief and it was huge for us to start the year strong. I feel like we will be a threat all year,” commented Custer after the race.
Justin Allgaier in his No.7 JR Motorsports Chevy also had a good run today finishing in third.
“Hats off to the guys at JR Motorsports. We had great pit stops all day. We were able to charge our way back through there and at the end, I thought we had the ticket.” Allgaier stated. “I was going to go to the middle on the last restart. I thought I could get that momentum but unfortunately, I let Cole (Custer) get by me. Still all in all a great day and a great start to the season.”
Jones and Reddick would round out the top five. Jeffrey Earnhardt, in his No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, is having his best season ever coming home in his career best finish with sixth place. He continues to become a fan favorite in the series.
Ryan Preece, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, and Austin Cindric finished seventh through 10th, respectively.
Bell leads the Xfinity Series standings with 99 points, Jones is in second with 95 points, in third is Allgaier with 81 points, fourth is Reddick with 76 points and Custer rounds out the top 10, also with 76 points.
The Xfinity Series heads next to Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 2.