Christopher Bell Prevails Late In GoBowling 250 To Win Richmond Playoff Raceby Carter Buffkin September 21, 2018 0 comments
RICHMOND, Va. – On a night where NASCAR saw 15-time Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. return to action, Christopher Bell asserted himself as the star of the show, making a late pass on the final restart to win the GoBowling 250 at Richmond Raceway Friday night. The win advances Bell into the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.
The win marked the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s fifth win of the season, as well completing a sweep of both of Richmond Raceway’s NASCAR Xfinity Series races in 2018. Bell led 67 of 250 laps en route to the win on Friday.
While Bell did have as strong of a showing as he did in the series’ first trip to Richmond Raceway in April, he showed his strength finishing both of the first two stages in the second position. He had led 53 laps prior, the most strength was shown with 14 laps to go, when Bell restart on the outside of Matt Tifft on the final restart. Bell took the lead from Tifft without being challenged for the lead for the remainder of the event.
“It’s not very often that you get to win with a car that’s not a winning car so we’ll take it”, said Bell following the win. “Just thank you to my pit crew for the awesome pit stops tonight. Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) did a great job making this thing better each and every time we hit the pit road. Man, I’m just pumped. To be able to sweep Richmond and to get five wins on top of that just couldn’t be happier.”
In his final planned 2018 start in the No. Chip Ganassi Racing 42 DC Solar Chevrolet, Ross Chastain overcame the adversity of starting at the rear of the field following a third-place qualifying effort to finish second to Bell. Finishing 10th in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2, Chasten spent the night slowly working his way through the field, up to the final restart where he made a run for Bell’s lead, but at the end of the night, the effort was only good enough for the runner-up result.
Friday night didn’t result in a victory for the Richard Childress Racing No. 21 South Pointe Casino Chevrolet team, but Daniel Hemric once again showed that he will be a force in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. Winning the first stage and finishing out the second stage in third, Hemric held on to a third-place finish overall, continuing a consistent season from the Kannapolis, North Carolina native.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished out the night in fourth place after leading the most laps with 96 laps led, while Matt Tifft ended up finishing fifth following a disappointing restart.
The first stage was nothing short of a show, as Daniel Hemric took the stage win in a 75-lap battle. Hemric, Bell, Earnhardt Jr., and Justin Allgaier all led at one point during the opening stage. With the beginning of the race featuring a battle for first between Bell, Earnhardt, and Allgaier, Hemric saved his equipment, making a late charge for the stage victory, as well as the valuable Playoff stage points.
The second stage began with Bell assuming the lead following the restart, with Earnhardt and Allgaier trailing behind. Bell held the lead until the No. 88 Hellmans Mayonnaise Chevrolet driven by the returning Earnhardt, made a pass for the lead at lap 124. The two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion held on to the lead, winning Stage 2, when it ended under caution following hard contact in the Turn 3 inside wall for Ty Majeski.
Earnhardt maintained the lead on the Stage 3 restart before a quick caution was brought out for Katherine Legge spinning through the frontstretch grass on lap 162. Earnhardt held onto the lead for a good portion of the third stage, until a caution for Legge changed the race with 32 laps to go. Tifft took the lead off of pit road and restart side-by-side with Bell with 24 laps to go, before Cole Custer and Allgaier got together in Turn 3 after the restart, bringing out the caution once more. On the final restart with 14 to go, Bell took the lead from the outside and carried the lead to finish, winning the GoBowling.com 250 at Richmond Raceway.
The next time that the NASCAR Xfinity Series will take the track will be next weekend at the new Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL, race number two of the first round of the NASCAR Playoffs. Live race coverage will start on Saturday, September 29, at 3 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com