Despite wild closing laps with road course ringers and Cup regulars spinning off track, Christopher Bell displays his talent and wins the CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“Man, I’m honestly in shock,” Bell said. “I really butchered qualifying and tore the crap out of the left front. I felt like once we got in the race there, we’d be able to drive by those guys. Instead, they dropped the green flag and they were driving by me. That wasn’t much fun.
“Then I told Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) I was really, really tight. We got those tires off and he said the left-front was hurt pretty bad. We got pretty good there when we put our new set of tires on.
“That strategy worked out well for us coming in there (with 14 to go) and then the yellow coming out. This car was really, really fast today. We’ve had a great road course season.”
NASCAR was forced to throw a caution for debris, setting up the race for a two-lap shootout for the win. Bell controlled the restart perfectly, but AJ Allmendinger spun his tires and fell back from the outside front row. Bell would hold off the field for the win, but it was eventful throughout the field behind him.
Austin Cindric pitted during the last caution flag to make a late-race charge through the field. After restarting in the 20th position, he had passed 15 cars and found himself on the heels of Matt DiBenedetto. Coming through Turn 14, DiBenedetto ended up spinning his No. 18 iK9 Toyota Supra, allowing Cindric to cross the start-finish line second — 1.891 seconds behind Bell.
“We talked about a five-to-go plan, that was like a green-white-checkered,” said Cindric, who came a position short of claiming three straight road-course wins in August. “I wasn’t 100 percent confident, but at the same time, we were battling a lot of wheel hop after four or five laps on tires and we had a lot more than on tires.
“In this kind of racing, you pretty much know that you’re going to get used up if you’re slower, so we wanted to go on offense and that was our strategy all day and we probably just needed one or two laps to get our Menards–Richmond Ford Mustang in Victory Lane. All in all, a good day, good points. P-2 is all right.”
Cindric also shared his viewpoint in the last two laps fittingly.
“It was chaos, it was insane. I think it’s why all these people show up at Road America and enjoy this type of racing. You never know what you’re going to get, it always comes down to those last-lap dashes to the finish, I’m glad to be able to put on a show at a place like this.”
Allmendinger admitted to the poor restart, but also collided with Noah Gragson after Turn 1 and spun off course. He would later be collected in a different off-course exchange and finished in a dismal 24th position.
The rest of the top five included points leader and Bristol Motor Speedway winner Tyler Reddick. Gragson and Kaz Grala. Justin Haley, Chase Briscoe, Jeremy Clements, Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer completed the top 10. Allgaier and Custer both recovered from earlier race incidents.
It was Bell’s 14th career Xfinity Series victory but his first triumph on a road course.
“I guess I just get lucky on these things, that’s for sure,” Bell said.
Just three races remain in the regular Xfinity Series season. They compete next in the throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway with the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, NBC/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).