No. 4 JBL Tundra Leads a Race-High 96 Laps and Comes Home Third
Date: April 1, 2017
Event: Alpha Energy Resources (Race 3 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 70 laps/70 laps/110 laps
Start/Finish: 6th/3rd (running, completed 250 of 250 laps)
Winner: Chase Elliott of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Christopher Bell started the final stage of the Alpha Energy Resources 250 at Martinsville Speedway from the front of the field and held off a tenacious challenge from eventual race winner Chase Elliott for the first 90 laps of the 110-lap segment. Bell was working his way past two trucks at the tail end of the lead lap with 17 laps remaining in the race, when one of the trucks appeared to be giving him room to the inside but then dove low to block him entering Turn 1.
The contact caused the other truck to spin and slowed the progress of the No. 4 JBL Tundra allowing Elliott and his GMS Racing teammate Johnny Sauter both to make their away past Bell before he gathered up his Toyota. The incident brought out the 10th and final caution of the event, but after the field went back green Bell was only able to maintain his position in the running order and ended the day with a disappointing third-place finish.
- Bell started the 250-lap event from the sixth position, and quickly worked his way into the top five. He ended the first stage scored in the fourth position.
Stage Two Recap:
- After pitting for fresh right-side tires and fuel on lap 75, Bell returned the track as the leader. Shortly after the field went back green Johnny Sauter, who had four fresh tires, quickly maneuvered his way around Bell. The 22-year-old was able to maintain the runner-up position until he was summoned to pit road by crew chief Rudy Fugle after the sixth caution of the day occurred when John Hunter Nemechek slowed on the track.
- After a four-tire and fuel stop, Bell returned to the track scored in the 15th spot with 18 laps remaining in stage two. He was able to methodically work his way all the way up to 10th position before the end of the stage.
Final Stage Recap:
- With the top nine trucks hitting pit road for fresh tires, Bell remained on track and started the final stage from the top spot. The field went back green with 101 laps remaining and Bell was able to hold serve on the restart.
- Bell had Elliott beating on his bumper for the majority of the final stage as they ran one-two for 90 laps. He was trying to work his way around the 19th and 20th-place competitors when Austin Cindric appeared to leave room on the inside heading into Turn 1, but then moved back down to the inside lane, the right side of the JBL Tundra. The contact caused Cindric spin and brought out the final caution of the event.
CHRISTOPHER BELL, driver of the No. 4 JBL Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
You had a good truck today, walk us through the late race incident in the final laps.
“We were in really heavy lap traffic and obviously both the GMS trucks were really fast. But I felt like our truck was able to maintain and we were strong enough that we were going to be able to hold on there and getting through lap traffic, got to the 19 (Austin Cindric), got into the back of him in (turns) three and four and then he got all the way up the race track off of four all the way to the wall. At that point I had went down to try and get underneath him getting into (turn) one and he decided he was going to go down with me.”
Describe the racing out there, particularly the racing with the lapped traffic late in the day.
“Well lapped traffic just didn’t go my way today. I’m just proud of everyone on this Kyle Busch Motorsports number 4 (truck). We brought a really fast JBL Toyota Tundra today and just don’t quite have the result to show for it. Third’s a good place to build on and we’ll come back here in the fall and be a little bit better.”
Is there anything you learned here today in navigating some of the challenges Martinsville brings?
“I love the way the new tire reacted. We were able to move around on the race track a little bit and find different grooves to help your truck whenever you were loose or tight. You could kind of find something to help you a little bit. Overall it was a great day for me as a driver. A great day for us as a team and we’ll go to Kansas and look to be a little bit stronger.”
NextEra Energy Resources 250 Recap:
- Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott won the race, his second victory in 12 truck starts. Elliott’s teammate Johnny Sauter was second, followed by Bell in third. Bell’s KBM teammate Noah Gragson was fourth and Ty Dillon rounded out the top-five finishers
- The race featured 10 cautions for a total of 63 laps. There were four lead changes among three drivers. Bell led twice for a race-high 96 laps
How Bell’s KBM Teammates Fared:
- Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished fourth
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 13th
NCWTS Driver Championship Standings:
Bell leaves the third race of the season second in the Truck Series Championship Standings, four tallies behind points leader Johnny Sauter. The Oklahoma native has tallied seven playoff points this season.
Bell will be back behind the wheel of the No. 4 SiriusXM Tundra when the Truck Series resumes action on Friday, May 12 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Live coverage of the Toyota Tundra 250 begins with the NCWTS Setup Show at 8 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.