RICHMOND, Va. – Christopher Bell made his point loud and clear Friday night at Richmond Raceway: the road to the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship goes through his No. 20 Toyota Supra.
Bell routed the field to win the Go Bowling 250 at the three-quarter-mile D-shaped oval, leading all but 12 of the 250 laps for his 15th career Xfinity Series win and series-high seventh of the 2019 season.
He took the lead for the first time on lap seven with an outside sweep around polesitter Austin Cindric, then only gave it up during the first stage break of the night when pit strategy briefly shuffled the frontrunners.
After Brandon Jones paced four circuits and Cindric got back out front for two more, Bell resumed command on the 86th revolution and never gave up the top spot again, leading the final 165 laps in succession.
It was a feat of dominance that even left Bell struggling to describe his night in victory lane.
“Man, that one was pretty special,” said Bell. “Going 92 laps straight there was really difficult. We were all sliding around a ton, but I just knew that if I could get to traffic, I’d be in pretty good shape … because my car could really move around all night long. I could run up (the track); I could run down (the track).
“The 00 (Cole Custer) was keeping the pressure on for a while, and he was pretty good, but this Rheem Supra was too much for him.”
Not only does Friday night’s triumph automatically advance Bell into the Round of 8 in the playoffs, it also pushed his career winning percentage in NASCAR’s second-tier division to a whopping 22.06%.
That winning record – 15 in just 68 starts – is the highest percentage by any driver in Xfinity Series history with 10 starts or more to their credit, a testament to Bell’s rapid and consistent dominance.
“Gatorade’s never felt better,” he said after his most recent win. “We just want to keep this run up.”
Though Custer chased Bell for most of the night, Cindric passed the Stewart-Haas Racing driver in the final laps to secure the second spot, leaving Custer to settle for third at the checkered flag.
Asked what more he needed to catch Bell and challenge for the win, Custer cracked a wry smile.
“A little bit of everything,” he noted. “We were just loose at the start of the run, and it just got worse as we went along. I probably worked too hard and had too much brake … or I was using too much brake. It got too tight (through the) center on me. I don’t know.
“I was wishing that we could have gotten the Go Bowling Mustang to victory lane; we were really close there for a second, but I just didn’t quite have the long run speed.”
Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe crossed the line fourth and fifth, respectively, followed by Harrison Burton, who was the first non-playoff driver to the checkered flag in sixth.
Noah Gragson, Zane Smith, Michael Annett and regular-season champion Tyler Reddick closed the top 10.
John Hunter Nemechek was moved out of the way on the final lap by Joe Graf Jr., finishing one lap down to the leaders in 15th. He retaliated after the checkered flag, spinning Graf out in turn one.
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