Christopher Bell wins Truck Race at Texas by a whisker after massive wreck

Whilst the Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup Series races were being held in Pocono, the triple header weekend was about to start in Texas Motor Speedway with the Camping World Truck Series. Taking to the track for the 400, rookie Noah Gragson was starting on the pole for Kyle Busch Motorsports ahead of Sauter, Crafton, Truex and rookie Enfinger in the top five. This was the seventh Truck race of the season and this would be their first run ever since the new configuration was created. This would totally change the entrance and exit lines that these trucks would have to take and could lead to a lot of looseness as a result of the new banking. Strategy would be key.

Gragson led the first ever lap in his career as he stayed at the front following the restart. The track was showing it’s newness when the top groove saw trucks lose control due to lack of grip. Falling victim to this early on was Cindric who got into the wall within the first couple of laps. Gragson continue to lead the way after the restart and there was trouble when Anderson brought the second caution of the day out in less than a lap. Crafton was the guy who got ahead upon the restart but Gragson took it back swiftly ahead of Crafton and Truex.

Bell was fastest in practices but had issues during qualifying, meaning he started at the rear. With 25 to go, he was already up to 4th. This was the first sign of great things to come for the young Kyle Busch Motorsports driver in this race. Gragson lost the top spot to Sauter and Bell was up to 3rd with 18 laps to go and it wasn’t long before he got ahead of Crafton for 2nd place. The Stage ended with Sauter winning ahead of Bell and Crafton.

Strategies came into play during the end of Stage caution, when the first six drivers on the track were those who had only opted for two fresh tyres. Sauter continued his lead ahead of rookies Briscoe and Gragson. Crafton was slipping back terribly and seemed to be having issues with turns one and two. With 29 laps to go, he was all the way back in 16th. Near the end of Stage 2, Bell pounced on Sauter when he made a mistake, and nabbed 1st for himself. Briscoe was also running well with just two fresh tyres, as he passed Sauter when the Stage was drawing to a close. Bell won Stage 2 ahead of Briscoe and Sauter.

There were 80 laps left of the race when Stage 3 began and Bell continued his lead. JH Nemechek also had a fantastic restart and barged through to 2nd ahead of Sauter, within the first lap. With 56 laps to go, Briscoe was stepping on Bell’s heels but just couldn’t make that crucial pass to put him into the lead. The 5th caution came out for Friesen who got into the wall after a front-right tyre issue, and he sustained heavy damage with 49 laps to go in the race. Drivers headed to pit road for their final stops of the night. Bell received two right tyres only on this stop and he won the race off pit road.

Briscoe had issues on the left side when they were putting the left rear tyre on and the jack was dropped too early before all the lug nuts were tightened. He risked staying out despite potentially having a loose lug nut – something his team was penalised for just last week. When the race restarted, Bell was back in the lead ahead of Briscoe and Haley. There were 37 laps to go when Snider span off turn two and brought out the 6th caution of the day. Bell resumed his lead following the restart a few laps later and had now led for 66 laps. It wasn’t long before the 7th caution was out for JH Nemechek who was running 4th when he got loose and slid up the track into the wall.

Bell finally secured 1st after the restart when Briscoe gave him a real run for his money and the pair drag raced for well over a lap. With 17 laps to go, Briscoe was all over Bell, who blocked well. Coughlin brought out the 8th caution of the day when his truck dumped fluid on the track with only 14 laps to go in the race. It was a dash to the finish with only 8 laps to go when the race restarted and Bell had another immaculate start that gave Briscoe no opportunity to steal 1st place. The two were side by side once again when Grala and Snider made contact and brought the 9th caution of the day out before the first restart lap had even been completed. Briscoe would be leading for this restart after it was decided by NASCAR that he was leading when the caution was brought out.

It was a shootout for the finish when the race restarted with 2 laps to go, and this restart would decide the race. Briscoe was looking for his first career win on the inside of Bell. The two were door to door again and there was little more than a hair’s breadth between them when Briscoe got loose. Further back, Self and Peters were involved in heavy contact and Peters flipped across the grass dramatically causing a 10th caution. As this unfolded, Bell was leading by inches and won the race under caution, ahead of Briscoe.

Bell had this to say about his friendly rivalry with Briscoe:

“I was concentrating on making him (Briscoe) slow down as much as I can. I didn’t think he had the lead whenever he got it and then I didn’t think I had the lead whenever I got it, so it’s just so tight, man. Me and Chase have known each other for a long time – we’re really good friends and met each other racing online whenever we were in our teens and now here we are racing in the Camping World Truck Series together.”

And Briscoe had this to say:

“It was close, I enjoyed it. I definitely wanted to get the win. But I was sleeping on couches two years ago and never imagined I’d be here.”


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