Date: March 4, 2017
Event: Active Pest Control 200 (Race 2 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.5-mile quad-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 40 laps/ 40 laps/ 50 laps
Start/Finish: 1st / 1st (running, completed 130 of 130 laps)
Winner: Christopher Bell of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota)
Christopher Bell started off Saturday by capturing his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole award and ended it by dominating the Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Bell led the first 83 laps en route to winning each of the first two segments and 16 of the final 17 laps en route to his first victory of 2017 and the third of his career. With the dominant victory, Bell took over the lead in the Truck Series championship standings with two races complete.
Bell’s victory was the first for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) at Atlanta. The organization, which originated in 2010, has now registered at least one victory at all 21 of the tracks on the current Camping World Truck Series schedule.
Stage One Recap:
- Bell started the 130-lap event from the pole and remained out front for all 40 laps of stage one. He crossed the stripe over two seconds ahead of KBM teammate and owner Kyle Busch.
Stage Two Recap:
- After pitting for four fresh tires and fuel, Bell restarted out front in stage two. Once again, the JBL Tundra led every lap of the stage, finishing over eight seconds ahead of Busch.
Final Stage Recap:
- Crew chief Rudy Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with a trackbar adjustment before the start of the final stage. Busch’s No. 51 team won the race off pit road, leaving Bell in the second position when the field went back green on lap 87.
- The JBL Tundra had trouble getting up to speed on the restart and had subsided to the seventh position just one lap later. He returned to the top five on lap 90 and was scored in the fourth spot when the sixth caution of the race occurred on lap 95.
- The outside lane once again had problems getting up to speed on the ensuing restart and Bell fell back two spots. He was running in the fifth position when a one-truck accident slowed the field on lap 105.
- The No. 4 Toyota came down pit road where the over-the-wall crew put on the final set of fresh tires. With Grant Enfinger electing not to pit and Austin Dillon getting only two fresh tires, Bell restarted fifth with 18 laps remaining.
- Within one lap he had maneuvered his way into the runner-up position and he regained the lead by making his way around Matt Crafton with 17 laps remaining. Bell was cruising to the victory, three seconds ahead of Crafton, when the eighth and final caution slowed the field on lap 126.
- The field took the green with two laps remaining. Bell was able to clear Crafton as they took the white flag and held him off for the final circuit.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, driver of the No. 4 JBL Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What were you thinking during the final restart?
“I was just trying to do everything I could to make sure I got a good restart and I didn’t get my momentum broke. These Truck races are really tough to get restarts going because it’s so, so aero dependent and you can get all sorts of momentum or you can get all sorts of momentum taken away from you and I think that happened to me there in the middle section of the race, but Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and the guys just – they did an awesome job preparing this thing. It was really fast all weekend. Man, it was just a dream machine. It was really, really good.”
Congratulations and how does it feel to win at Atlanta?
“Yeah, thank you. Man, it’s been a dream come true to be able to be at Kyle Busch Motorsports and in this No. 4 JBL Toyota Tundra. All the guys at TRD, Rowdy Manufacturing and everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports and all the guys at the shop work really hard on this thing, so I’m just really thankful to be able to be the one that drives this thing because it’s a dream machine.”
How did you recover when you fell back?
“Well, I knew we were really, really good and air is so important here, so whenever we took off by ourselves, I kept keying up and just saying, ‘Man, I’m really good. I don’t need anything,’ and then as soon as I fell back there, it kind of brought out some flaws on my truck, but I knew I was really good and if I could get back out front, I’d be just fine.”
What was the final restart like?
“It was heartbreaking whenever the yellow came out with five to go or whatever it was, but, man, this thing had been so good, I knew all I had to do was get a good restart and then not screw it up, but I’m just really happy I could finally get JBL to victory lane. It’s been a year now since we’ve had them on the truck and we haven’t been able to win for them, so I’m glad we got them here in victory lane.”
How does this win feel given last year’s Atlanta finish?
“Well, this was definitely a race I had circled ever since we left here last February, but to be able to be see good here last year and then to come back and be as dominant as what we were was really cool for me and it was just kind of a dream weekend ever since we unloaded. We were really, really fast right off the truck and everything we did to it just made it better and better and better throughout practice. As soon as they dropped the green in the race, it was just really, really good and then kind of got shuffled there on the restart and got stalled out back there in fifth or sixth, but whenever we were able to restart back on the bottom, we were able to get right back up there.”
NextEra Energy Resources 250 Recap:
- Bell earned his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2017 and his third across 32 career Truck Series starts. Matt Crafton finished in the runner-up position, 0.446 seconds behind Bell. Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured eight cautions for a total of 38 laps. There were six lead changes among four drivers. Bell led three times for a total of 99 laps, while teammate Kyle Busch led once for 25 laps.
How Bell’s KBM Teammates Fared:
Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 14th
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 26th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Bell leaves the second race of the season leading the Truck Series Championship Standings, 7 tallies ahead of Johnny Sauter. He earned 10 points each for wins in the first two stages and 40 points for winning the race. The Oklahoma native also tallied seven playoff points in the race.
Bell will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 JBL Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action April 1 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Live coverage of the Alpha Energy Solutions 200 on Fox begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 2:30 p.m. ET.