Christopher Bell led a race-high 72 laps of Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series TheHouse.com225 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. but surrendered the lead to race winner Johnny Sauter with 28 laps remaining when the handling of his SiriusXM Tundra went extremely loose. Bell would hold on to cross the stripe in the third position, allowing the No. 4 team to clinch the regular season Truck Series title and earn an extra 15 playoff points.
When the playoffs start next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Bell will be the No. 1 seed with 40 playoff points.
Date: Sept. 15, 2017
Event: TheHouse.com 225 (Race 16 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 35 laps / 35 laps / 80 laps
Start/Finish: 4th / 3rd (Running, completed 150 of 150 laps)
Winner: Johnny Sauter of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage One Recap:
- Bell started from the fourth position, but raced side-by-side with pole sitter Ryan Truex off Turn Four and narrowly edged him to the stripe at the completion of lap one. Truex would regain the lead through Turns One and Two and Bell settled in behind him.
- A stalled truck brought out the first caution of the night on lap four. The SiriusXM Tundra was scored in the second position for the lap-6 restart and would settle into the third position during the next run.
- The second caution of the night slowed the field on lap 12. On the ensuing restart, Bell worked his way back up to the runner-up position tucked in behind Truex.
- The 22-year-old worked his way around Truex to regain the lead on lap 24 and remained out front until the third caution of the night occurred on lap 30.
- With a 30-point cushion in the regular season point standings, crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to put his team in a position for the race win and ordered his driver to pit road. The over-the-wall crew administered a four-tire and fuel stop and returned their driver to the track scored in the eighth position for the restart with one lap remaining in Stage One.
- Bell maintained the eighth spot when the field completed Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- After remaining on track, Bell took the Stage Two restart from the fourth position on lap 42. One lap later he had advanced up to the runner-up position and on lap 55 he worked his way around Chase Briscoe to regain the race lead.
- The Oklahoma native remained out front for the remainder of the stage and earned a playoff point.
Final Stage Recap:
- Bell communicated to Fugle that his SiriusXM Tundra was extremely loose before hitting pit road when it opened. A speedy four-tire and fuel stop with a trackbar adjustment allowed the No. 4 Toyota to remain the leader when the field went green for the Final Stage on lap 77.
- The talented youngster remained out front the next 30 laps, but communicated to Fugle that the handling of his Tundra was extremely loose.
- A one-truck accident slowed the field on lap 107 and set up the final round of pit stops. Bell came to pit road for four tires and fuel and returned to the track in the third position.
- Bell made a three-wide pass into Turn 1 to regain the lead on the restart and would remain out front for the next 12 laps. With 28 laps remaining, the SiriusXM Tundra snapped loose off the corner and as Bell gathered it up and avoided hitting the outside wall, Sauter rocketed past him for the race lead.
- With 15 laps remaining Chase Briscoe worked his way around Bell. The No. 4 team would end up finishing the race in the third position, but finished 21 points ahead of Sauter in the regular season standings and earned 15 playoff points.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, driver of the No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What does it mean to win the regular season championship?
“It’s huge, I’ve got the best guys in the world here. I’m really thankful to drive this No. 4 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, it’s a pleasure to drive.”
What did you learn tonight leading into the Playoffs?
“I learned that I have to get better, this isn’t going to cut it for Homestead. Really proud of how fast of a Tundra they built for us this weekend. Felt like we had the truck to win there and I just made some mistakes there at the end and gave it away.”
How big is this season for you?
“It’s huge, thankfully this year we were able to accumulate some points to have a little bit of a cushion going into the Playoffs and just really thankful to be here at Kyle Busch Motorsports driving this No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra and not just SiriusXM, but all of our partners at JBL, TRD, Toyota and everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports, there is a whole group there that builds these Tundras and they do an excellent job and it really shows week in and week out.”
TheHouse.com 225 Recap:
- Johnny Sauter collected his second NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory of 2017 and the 15th of his career. Chase Briscoe finished 2.005 seconds behind Sauter in the runner-up position. Bell finished third, while Ryan Truex and Grant Enfinger rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured six cautions for a total of 28 laps. There were 12 lead changes among six drivers. Bell led five times for a race-high 72 laps and continues to lead the Truck Series with 593 laps led on the season.
How Bell’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished eighth
- Myatt Snider, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 10th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Bell finished the regular season 21 points ahead of reigning champion Johnny Sauter. The Oklahoma will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed with 40 playoff points.
Bell will be behind the wheel of the No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action on Sept. 23 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Live coverage of the UNOH 175 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1.