Christopher Bell sets XFINITY Series rookie record at Dover with sixth win
DOVER, Del. — Christopher Bell led 63 of the final 68 laps and staved off two late restarts to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International on Saturday at Dover International Speedway. It was Bell’s sixth victory of the year, a record-setting mark for most wins by a rookie in an XFINITY Series season.The record was previously held by Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, all of whom had five wins in 2001, 2004 and 2005, respectively.
Bell led a race-high 110 of 200 laps and topped Cole Custer by 0.525 seconds. He now enters the Round of 8 with 44 playoff points, the most of the eight drivers who are still racing for a championship. Daniel Hemric (seventh), Justin Allgaier (third), Cole Custer (second), Elliott Sadler (11th), Tyler Reddick (14th), Austin Cindric (eighth) and Matt Tifft (15th) all advanced to the semifinal round.
Ross Chastain (started 15th, finished 13th) entered the day nine points to the good but missed the final transfer spot by three. Brandon Jones (sixth, three laps led), Ryan Truex (10th) and Ryan Reed (16th) were also eliminated.
Custer (37 laps led), who came runner-up, collected his 12th top five of the season. Allgaier (22 laps led), Ryan Preece and Spencer Gallagher (two laps led) rounded out the top five. Jones, Hemric, Cindric, John Hunter Nemechek and Truex made up the top 10.
Hemric started on the pole and led 21 laps, but a speeding penalty during Stage 2 intermission pit stops washed the chances of his first career National Series victory.
The XFINITY Series takes a weekend off before heading to Kansas to start the Round of 8. Texas and ISM will follow and set the table for the winner-take-all, Championship Four at Homestead.
Stage 1 (Laps 1-45)
Christopher Bell led all 45 laps in a caution-free Stage 1 for his sixth stage win of the season.
Daniel Hemric started on the pole and elected the outside line to kick things off — thinking it’d be the preferred line — but Bell, starting second, worked the bottom to exit the race’s second turn with the lead.
Hemric, who challenged Bell multiple times for the top spot, finished second in the stage. Justin Allgaier, Brandon Jones, and Spencer Gallagher made up the top five. Elliott Sadler, Cole Custer, Austin Cindric, Matt Tifft, and Ryan Preece placed in the top 10.
Other playoff drivers: Ross Chastain (12th), Ryan Truex (13th), Tyler Reddick (14th) and Ryan Reed (19th, 1-lap down)
Top 10 after intermission pit stops: Hemric, Allgaier, Bell, Custer, Gallagher, Sadler, Cindric, Tifft, Preece and Jones
Stage 2 (Laps 46-90)
After regaining control on pit road, then losing the top spot on the restart, Daniel Hemric snatched the lead for good on Lap 75 and went on to win his seventh stage of the season.
Good news from that stage for Hemric: He clinched a spot in the Round of 8. Bad news: He got caught speeding on pit road and restarted at the tail-end of the longest line.
Like Stage 1, the second stage had no cautions. Christopher Bell, running a car length off the wall, finished second. Justin Allgaier, who led 30 laps that stage, was third. Spencer Gallagher, Cole Custer, Austin Cindric, Elliott Sadler, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, and Ross Chastain rounded out the top 10.
Top 10 after intermission pit stops: Hemric (caught speeding), Custer, Cindric, Sadler, Nemechek, Chastain, Reddick, Preece, Ryan Truex, and Ryan Sieg.
Final Stage (Laps 91-200)
Cole Custer assumed the race lead after a pit road speeding penalty booted Daniel Hemric to 19th. He led Laps 96 to 132 and opened up a one-second lead before Christopher Bell, using the highest groove on the track — two to three car lengths off the wall — powered around Custer with ease with 68 to go.
Eight laps later, Bell pushed the lead to two seconds. Not long after, the advantage swelled closer to three seconds. By lap 50, Hemric had battled from 19th to 10th.
Josh Bilicki brought out the first non-stage caution with 38 to go when his car snapped around into Turn 1. It wiped away green flag stops and Bell’s 3.5-second cushion. Bell shot out of a cannon to lead with 29 to go but eight laps later, Ross Chastain got into Matt Tifft, who then glided up the track and tagged Chase Briscoe for the second and final caution.
From there, Bell was off to the races for good with 18 to go and soon celebrated his record-setting win.
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