Date: Nov. 3, 2017
Event: JAG Metals 350 (Race 21 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 35 laps / 35 laps / 77 laps
Start/Finish: 3rd / 3rd (Running, completed 147 of 147 laps)
Winner: Johnny Sauter of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Christopher Bell led 20 laps of Friday night’s JAG Metals 350 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and ended the 147-lap event in the third position. Bell has finished inside the top 10 in each of the first two races in the Round of 6 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs and enters the final race of the round 55 points above the cutoff line for earning the fourth and final spot in the championship race at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.
Stage One Recap:
- Bell started from the third position, but by the time the first caution of the night occurred on lap four had advanced into the runner-up spot.
- On lap 26 he worked his way around pole sitter Justin Haley just before the race was slowed for the second time for a single-truck accident.
- The No. 4 JBL Tundra maintained the lead on the lap-31 restart and remained out front as Stage One came to a close on lap 35.
Stage Two Recap:
- Bell reported that the handling of his Tundra had been loose in the early stages of the race, but improved when he got out front in the clean air. When pit road opened, crew chief Rudy Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop. With several teams having elected to pit before the completion of Stage One, the No. 4 Toyota returned to the track scored in the 12th position for the start of Stage Two.
- Stage Two went green on lap 42 and two laps later Bell returned to the top 10.
- When the fourth caution of the race occurred on lap 58, he had advanced up to the seventh position and when one truck inside the top five elected to pit he gained another position.
- Bell took the lap-63 restart from the sixth spot, but was able to gain three more positions during the final seven-lap run to complete Stage Two in the third position.
Final Stage Recap:
- When pit road opened, Bell brought his Toyota to the attention of his over-the-wall crew who replaced the left-side tires and filled it with fuel. With several trucks on a different pit strategy and electing not to pit, the JBL Tundra was scored in the eighth position when the Final Stage went green on lap 76.
- Bell gained on spot in the opening laps of the Final Stage, but reported that he was “loose to fire off.” On lap 86, he was able to work his way back inside the top five. As a long-green flag run ensued with passing at a minimum at the freshly paved track, the Oklahoma native remained fifth with 50 laps remaining. He moved up to fourth on lap 103 and then into third on lap 109.
- Green-flag pit stops started taking place with 30 laps remaining and after the top-two trucks hit pit road Bell inherited the lead on lap 118.
- On lap 125, Fugle summoned his driver to pit road for fresh right-side tires and enough fuel to make it to the end of the race.
- When pit stops cycled through with 12 laps remaining, the No. 4 team found themselves back in the third position over three seconds behind the top-two trucks. Bell would cross the stripe in the third spot as he collected his series-leading 14th top-five finish of the season.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, driver of the No. 4 JBL Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Walk through the race from your perspective and how you feel going into Phoenix.
“Yeah Stage 1 went right as planned and then we were able to get the lead there, pit, take four tires and then from that point on we kind of seemed to mired back the entire night. I could fight my way up through to the top five, top three and then I kind of just got stalled out and couldn’t make anymore, but our JBL Toyota handled really good. It seemed like everybody’s trucks handled really good tonight, so whenever we pitted and we got left out by ourselves that was ultimately the race. I don’t know if maybe I could’ve charged pit road a little bit harder or accelerated a little bit better off pit road to beat those guys out.”
Are you comfortable with your position in the Playoffs after getting some points?
“Yes and no. It was a good points day, but we don’t want to points race. We did a good job points racing and accumulating all those bonus points throughout the regular season and I feel like we could attack the Playoffs and try to win races and we were able to do that in the first round – won Loudon and then we were close to winning the rest of them. It was a nice points day, but we already have really good points, so we really wanted to win.”
JAG Metals 350 Recap:
- Reigning Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter collected his third NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2017. Austin Cindric finished in the runner-up position, 0.170 seconds behind Sauter. Bell finished third while Chase Briscoe and Justin Haley rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured five cautions for a total of 26 laps. There were 11 lead changes among 10 drivers. Bell led twice for 20 laps and continues to lead the Truck Series with 775 laps led on the season.
How Bell’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 10th
- Myatt Snider, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 12th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Bell leads the NCWTS championship standings by four points over reigning champion Johnny Sauter. Sauter’s victory earned him one of the four spots in the championship race at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. With one race remaining in the Round of 6, Bell sits 55 points ahead of the cutoff line for making the championship race.
Bell will be behind the wheel of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Nov. 10 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway. Live coverage of the Lucas Oil 150 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.