BRISTOL, TN —“Show me the money, baby,” the No. 20 team said, as Christopher Bell scored his first Xfinity Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday and collected the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus.
Bell didn’t have the fastest car early, but the Joe Gibbs Racing crew found the balance he needed to attack in the second half of the Alsco 300.
Bell led 57 laps and held off Tyler Reddick by .906-seconds at the finish for his second win of the season.
“It feels really good," Bell said. "Cardboard checks are my favorite trophies. I’ve got a couple of them from the dirt races, but none of them say a hundred grand so that’s pretty cool."
Polesitter Cole Custer finished third, followed by Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Cindric, Justin Haley, Michael Annett, Noah Gragson and Harrrison Burton—
making his Xfinity Series debut. Eleventh-place Zane Smith was the final car on the lead lap.
Reddick snagged the lead from Custer on Lap 26. A “stupid mistake” acknowledged by the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing team cost Reddick a shot at the first stage win. The team told the driver the segment was over prematurely and he backed off with one lap remaining in the stage, allowing Justin Allgaier to steal the Playoff point that goes with the win. Reddick held on for second followed by Custer, Burton, Cindric, Briscoe, Bell, Haley, Nemechek and Jones.
The battle resumed between Allgaier and Reddick when Stage 2 started on Lap 97. The segment was slowed by Jeremy Clements, who spun in Turn 2 on Lap 167 for Caution 3. Bell, who was running third, went high and barely missed the No. 51 Chevy.
The No. 7 JR Motorsports of Allgaier led 80 laps and held the position under caution for the second stage win, with Reddick second. Bell finished third with Custer, Nemechek, Cindric, Briscoe, Burton, Jones and Haley in tow.
Allgaier’s dominant run was challenged by Bell on Lap 202. The No. 20 Toyota led a lap but the No. 7 Chevy wasn’t going away without a fight. He got one 22 laps later. Bell executed a solid crossover move for the lead out of Turn 4 on Lap 224. The pair made contact and the damage led to Allgaier slamming the backstretch wall two laps later.
"I've got no brakes, I've got nothing,” Allgaier said as he drove his car behind the wall. “I don't know what it's doing dude.” He finished 30th.
With 40 laps remaining, Burton suffered a flat left front tire and hit the wall in Turn 2 to trigger Caution 4. He dropped to 12th. Jones stayed on the track under yellow and assumed the lead for the Lap 268 restart. Bell was first off of pit road. Jones and Bell made contact coming to the line after the first lap. Reddick passed Custer for third and set his sights on the No. 20 Toyota.
Bell rebounded and regained the lead from Jones on Lap 283. With a right front tire rub after contact with the outside wall, Jones was forced to pit four laps later. Bell extended his lead by a half-second after 10 circuits and held on for his 10th-career win in NXS. He cut Reddick's points lead in the Xfinity standings to 13.
“I knew that if it would stay green I’d have a better shot because this thing was really good on the long run,” Bell said. “The yellow came out with 35 (laps) to go and I was like man, if I can get the lead off pit road I think I can hold them off and then Brandon, my teammate, got out there on old tires and was doing a really good job.
“Ultimately, I was okay with that because I was still in the spot for the one hundred grand and then he started fading and my car started coming to me and I felt really good.”