Christopher Bell and the No. 4 Toyota Racing team earned Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) its first-ever superspeedway pole and were one spot away from bringing home another victory Saturday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Fred’s 250 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Date: Oct.14, 2017
Event: Fred’s 250 (Race 19 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile tri-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 20 laps / 20 laps / 54 laps
Start/Finish: 1st / 2nd (Running, completed 95 of 95 laps)
Winner: Parker Kligerman of Henderson Motorsports (Toyota)
The Oklahoma native was leading the field when a late-race caution set up NASCAR overtime. On the ensuing restart, rather than pushing Bell past the outside lane Justin Haley decided to make a move for the lead down the backstretch and slowed the momentum of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra when he pulled out of line. Bell fell back to the fourth spot momentarily, but rallied back up to the runner-up position and was waiting to make a move on eventual winner Parker Kligerman when a wreck ensued behind them and ended the race under caution.
The No. 4 team finished the Round of 8 of the Truck Series Playoffs in first place in the championship standings with 2,195 points and will enter the Round of 6 as the No. 1 seed with 47 playoff points.
Stage One Recap:
- Bell started from the pole and elected to take the inside lane for the start of the race. When the field took the green, the outside lane got a strong start and the top two trucks in that lane had cleared him by the time the field crossed the stripe for the first time. He settled into the third position and would remain there at the completion of Stage One on lap 20.
Stage Two Recap:
- When pit road opened, the over-the-wall crew put on fresh left-side tires, filled the No. 4 Tundra with fuel and returned Bell to the track scored in the fifth position.
- The Oklahoma native was running in the sixth spot on lap 37 when crew chief Rudy Fugle played the strategy card and summoned his driver to pit road. Having already clinched a spot in the Round of 6, and not needing the Stage points, the veteran signal caller was looking to gain track position for the final stage.
- After getting fresh right-side tires and a full load of fuel, Bell returned to the track and finished Stage Two in the 19thposition.
Final Stage Recap:
- Fugle’s strategy paid off and the No. 4 Tundra was at the front of the field when the Final Stage went green on lap 46. Bell was able to hold the lead for a lap, but the outside lane made a strong push and on lap 48 he found himself in the seventh spot.
- Bell was scored in the fifth spot on lap 54 when a multi-truck accident slowed the field for the third time. When pit road opened he came for a fuel-only stop, putting the team near its window to make it to the end of the race, and would take the ensuing restart in the sixth position.
- Over the next 20 laps, the 22-year-old would run inside the top three and communicated to Fugle that he was running partial throttle to save fuel in an effort to make it to the end of the race without having to make another pit stop.
- With 25 laps remaining, Bell was running third on the bottom lane with his two KBM teammates behind him. He moved to the middle lane and his teammates followed, but Myatt Snider got caught up in five-truck accident that resulted in a red-flag period.
- After restarting from the second position on lap 76, Bell jockeyed amongst the top four as the lanes alternated surging to the front. He was running fourth on lap 88 when Kligerman locked on to his back bumper and pushed him all the way to the lead and then fell in behind him in the second spot.
- Shortly after retaking the lead a one-truck spin slowed the field and set up overtime, per NASCAR rules. On the ensuing restart, third-place running Justin Haley made a move to take the lead instead of pushing Bell and slowed his momentum.
- The No. 4 Tundra fell to the fourth spot, but would rally back to the runner-up position on the final lap. Bell was unable to make a bid for the lead before a five-truck accident ended the race under caution and left him with his second-consecutive runner-up finish.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, driver of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Can you describe the last few laps and the effort you put in to try and get the win?
“Hair-raising. That’s really all I can say. Pretty intense there the last 10 laps — people started pushing and wiggling. It was very intense. Second was not where we wanted to finish, but the truck is in one piece. I’m just proud of all of my guys and the effort they put into this. They brought a really fast Toyota Tundra. We didn’t end up in victory lane, but we’re in second and the truck’s in one piece, so that’s the next best thing.”
Can you walk us through the overtime restart and your race today?
“It was pretty self-explanatory to me. I had the lead and just had to hang onto it for two laps, but unfortunately at Talladega that’s pretty tough. I just hate it for my guys. My Toyota Tundra was just so strong and they worked really hard to prepare a fast Tundra for this weekend. We started on the pole and then the top got by me. I don’t know. I need to go back and look at my restarts and see what I could’ve done differently to win the race on the last restart and not lose as many spots over the course of the race. Rudy Fugle (crew chief) did a great job on the pit box making the right strategy calls to get us track position because I felt like that’s how we gained all of our track position — on pit road and using the right strategy. Second place is not where we wanted to finish, but to roll it onto pit road and not get caught up in a crash and finish second that’s the second-best option.”
Fred’s 250 Recap:
- Kligerman collected the second victory of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career. Bell finished in the runner-up position while his KBM teammate Myatt Snider finished third. Grant Enfinger and Austin Cindric rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured six cautions for a total of 27 laps. There were 17 lead changes among 11 drivers. Bell led four times for nine laps and continues to lead the Truck Series with 739 laps led on the season.
How Bell’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Myatt Snider, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished third
- Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 14th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
With his win in the opening race of the playoffs at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Bell earned an automatic berth into the Round of 6 that begins Oct. 28 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The driver of the No. 4 Tundra will enter the Round of 6 as the No. 1 seed with 47 playoff points.
Bell will be behind the wheel of the No. 4 JBL Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action Oct. 28 at Martinsville. Live coverage of the Texas Roadhouse 200 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 12:30 p.m. ET on FS1.